It’s funny how we human beings think in such absolute terms. For example, we latch onto a particular way of doing things and then just assume it’s the only way. Take the debate over toilet paper and the bidet. More than one bidet fan has insisted it is better than using toilet paper. But is it?
The answer depends on your criteria. There is no doubt that some people prefer the bidet. They might prefer it so much that they only use toilet paper when absolutely necessary. There are other people who could never bring themselves to use a bidet. For them, it is toilet paper or bust.
Basics of the Bidet
Americans are not bidet users by and large. But if you go to other parts of the world, especially Europe and the Middle East, bidets are quite common. You will find them in public restrooms, hotels, and even private residences. Some are stand-alone units that sit right next to the toilet. Others are built into the toilet.
In a nutshell, a bidet is a device that cleanses your privates with a stream of water after you finish using the toilet. A towel or toilet paper is used to pat yourself dry after cleansing. When toilet paper is used, it is flushed down the toilet.
Better for Your Skin
Bidet fans insist that the device is better for your skin. They say it is more hygienic, it gets you cleaner, and it avoids the problems associated with toilet paper making contact with the skin. Some even say it helps reduce hemorrhoids and anal itching.
It is hard to understand why a bidet would be more hygienic except to say that you’re not directly using your hands to clean yourself. But some bidet designs still require getting the hands involved. In either case, people concerned about hygiene wash their hands after using the toilet anyway. So in the end, is the bidet really more hygienic?
As a side note, some bidet fans like to point out that they are better for the environment because you are not using as much toilet paper. That may be true. But bidet users have to use something to pat themselves dry. If it’s not toilet paper, it’s a towel. Do you really want every bathroom user drying with the same towel? And if not, any savings from less toilet paper are lost by laundering towels.
Common Bidet Questions
Perhaps it’s appropriate to close this post with a number of bidet FAQs. Below are two of the more commonly asked questions, compliments of Salt Lake City-based Salt City Plumbing:
1. Can I use the bidet instead of the toilet?
As a standalone device, the bidet is not a substitute for the toilet. Its plumbing is such that it is not designed to handle solids safely and effectively. So no, you should not use a bidet in place of the toilet. Use it only for cleansing purposes. All waste and toilet paper should be flushed down the toilet.
2. Which way should I face when using a bidet?
Your position while using it bidet depends on a number of things. You can straddle a bidet facing forward or backward in relation to the nozzle. The best position depends on where the nozzle is located, the direction of the water, and other factors.
Bidets are slowly becoming more popular in this country. However, they still aren’t the norm for American consumers. Some people love them, others do not. Just know this: the bidet is not inherently better than using toilet paper. It is a matter of preference.