What Is a Bidet? How to Use a Bidet: Steps, Tips and Proper Bidet Etiquette

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Imagine walking into a washroom while globetrotting around the world and coming across a bidet; unsure of what it is and how it functions.

Well the culture shock is allowed if you live outside Asia and Europe where a bidet is a common toilet feature. However, you cannot be ignorant forever.

If you do not want to be the butt (pun intended) of a joke, then it is time to further acquaint yourself with the functionality and working of a bidet. 

If you are a first time bidet-er, then you are likely a bit curious as to how a bidet works and how to use it. Once you are done reading through this article, you will realize that it’s easy and guarantees a clean butt — in case you missed it, everyone poops.

If you’ve considered equipping your toilet with a bidet but haven’t gotten to it yet, the time to join the bidet bandwagon is now. After all, a vote for bidets is a vote for clean butts.

And if you are yet to try out a bidet, then it’s time to do it, it is guaranteed to be a blast (literally)! After all the only day that ends with you using the least amount of toilet paper is one where a bidet is used.  Purpose to save the trees!


How Does a Bidet Work?

Crocodile Dundee encounters his 1st standalone bidet. | Movieclips (Paramount Pictures)

Before getting into how to use a bidet, it is crucial to first understand how a bidet works in order to do away with some of the misconceptions surrounding bidets. It’s simple really. A bidet works by spraying your nether regions with a vertical jet of water through a nozzle leaving it clean and fresh. As opposed to plain toilet paper, a bidet does not smear poop all over your butt.

There is also a traditional bidet which tends to be separate from the toilet. It comes in the form of a wash-basin equipped with a faucet through which water runs to fill the basin for you to wash your butt.


Types of Bidets

The word bidet comes from the French, and literally means “little horse” because of the straddling position associated with their use. It’s important to acquaint yourself with the four types of bidets that exist in order to understand how to use them.

Standalone Bidets

A standalone bidet has its origin in 18th – century Europe and is the first model of bidets. It exists as a separate unit and can be found alongside the toilet, down the toilet’s hall or across the room. This then means that you need to first use the toilet, stand up and move from the toilet to the bidet’s location in order to use it. Well moving over can be a bit awkward but it grows on you with time. 

This is the kind of bidet Crocodile Dundee movie clip above. Standalone bidets are less common in the United States, and will typically only be found in luxury homes or spas.

Handheld Bidet

Also called a bidet sprayer or a bidet shower, a handheld bidet is quite interesting as it is found hanging on the wall providing a certain kind of flexibility while using it. Why you ask? You get to manually move it which means that you can manipulate it to whatever position you deem fit to use it. Isn’t that just great?

Just think of them like a handheld showerhead that’s next to to the toilet. People with babies and toddlers will also appreciate that many handheld bidets come with a diaper cleaning sprayer

Built-in Bidet

Also known as an add-on side toilet rim, a this type of bidet can be found inbuilt within the toilet or as a fixture above the toilet seat or side rim owing to the limited spaces in most toilets in America and Asia. This then means that the task of using the bidet is simplified owing to the fact that you use the bidet without having to move as soon as you are done with your business.

With modern technology, there are now bidet attachments that can be added to your existing toilet so that you don’t have to purchase an expensive bidet toilet that has the cleaning system as part of the actual toilet design. 

Bidet Toilet Seats

In some ways a bidet toilet seat is similar to the built in, however instead of attaching the bidet to your existing toilet or toilet seat, you replace the entire seat. This type of bidet has the entire system built right into the seat itself.

Video: How to Install a Bidet Toilet Seat

Plumber Roger Wakefield shows how to install the American Standard SpaLet Bidet Seat.

Related: Best Bidet Toilet Seat Reviews


How to Use a Bidet

If you never used a bidet before, then walking into a toilet equipped with one might leave you intimidated and confused. However, do not worry. Below you will find a step by step guide with three parts on how to use a bidet, bound to leave you “bidet-ing” like a pro.

Part One: Scale the Bidet

Step One: Do Your “Business”

The first step is to use the toilet; after all you cannot clean something that’s already clean. And no, there is no unique way of using a toilet in this particular instance. You just use it like you normally would.  You can also choose to wipe yourself using toilet paper before using a bidet. Some people even use a towel to dry off the water after using a bidet. However, that is totally optional and can be foregone altogether.

Step Two: Pinpoint the Bidet

Once you are done doing your business, it is time to use the bidet. The first thing is to locate where the water spray comes out. In order to pinpoint it, you need to refer above on the types of bidets as the location differs for each type.

For a standalone bidet, you have two choices. You first remove your pants then either face way from or towards the water controls. The position you take while on your direction of choice is similar to the one you would be in while using the toilet. It is advisable to straddle the bidet while facing the water controls as it makes it easier to not only control the water temperature but also see the water which makes the cleaning process a tad bit easier.

However, the direction you face is also hugely determined by the nether region that you are targeting and the water jets direction. Therefore if you are cleaning the front region, facing the water jets is more convenient and vice versa.

When it comes to using an add-on bidet, there is the added advantage that removing your pants is not necessary. When using an automatic bidet, the first step when is to activate it by locating the button marked as “Wash” that activates a nozzle beneath you that produces a stream water to clean either part. The button can be found on either the toilet or on a remote set up on the wall adjacent to the toilet.

Once you are clean, press the button labeled “Stop”.   The nozzle then retracts into the toilet seat but not before rinsing itself. However if you are using a manual bidet, all you need to do is locate the lever and turn it. And if the bidet has a string as opposed to a lever, just pull at the string which will in turn activate the mains valve. 

Part Two: Now Clean Yourself

Step One: Control the water temperature and jet strength

Some bidets have both hot and cold water options. This is great as it allows you to choose the temperature that works best for you. Depending on the region that you are in you can either start by running the hot water first then the cold water to adjust the temperature and vice versa.

In hot areas, you are advised to start with the cold water as hot water heats up immediately which then means that if you directly start with the hot water you could end up burning your nether regions. You do not want to have to deal with burns in such sensitive areas.

Tip: Always acquaint yourself with the nozzle’s location to prevent any accidental showers as you could end up leaving the toilet with wet clothes.

Step Two: Find the perfect position

Keep in mind that if you are positioned too much to the right or too much to the left of the bidet, then the experience is bound to be crappy (pun intended). Finding the perfect position is therefore crucial. You can either squat or sit over the stream of water, the choice is yours. These positions allows the water to clean whichever nether region needs cleaning

However, if the bidet has no water jet, then you will find that it is equipped with a faucet and a basin. All you need to do is turn the faucet and allow the water to run until it is filled with water. This process is hands on so you will be required to fold your sleeves and use your hands to clean yourself.

Step Three: Clean your nether regions

Cleaning your nether regions can either be a hands-on or hands-off process depending on the bidet’s features. If the bidet is equipped with a jet then the cleaning process will be so easy and relaxing as the water’s force to clean you followed by a quick rinse using your hands. However, with a basin things are different as you need to involve your hands.

Tip: Using a toilet paper during the cleaning process makes it more effective. You can either choose to slightly dampen the tissue paper while cleaning yourself or use it towards the end to ensure that you are clean. Either way, the results will be a clean nether region.

Part Three: Common Courtesy

Step One: Dry that part!

Depending on the type of bidet you are using, some come equipped with an in-built air dryer while some require you to use toilet paper to pat yourself dry. Either way, do not skip this step as wet nether regions are a breeding ground for quite a number of bacteria and infections. For a bidet with an air dryer, pinpoint the button labeled “Dry” and let it do its job drying both your genitals and hands.

Step Two: Rinse the bidet and wash those hands

Now that your tushy or genitals are clean, it is time to shift your attention to the bidet. First get off the bidet and put on your underwear and clothes. Once that is out of the way, rinse the bidet by allowing the water jets to run at a very low pressure for not more than a few seconds. This not only rinses the basin but also ensures that the bidet remains oh so fresh. Failure to do so only stands in the way of the next person using the bidet. And surprise, it could be you.

When you are done with the rinsing process, turn off the water jets. After all, saving water is the goal. Finish off by press on the “Dry” button that was mentioned earlier as it also dries any water splashes on the bidet.

Once that the bidet is just as clean as you found it, there’s only one last thing left to do. This step is crucial and forgetting it is a crime against hygiene. It’s simple really. All you need to do is use water and hand soap to wash your hands at the sink.


With this detailed guide on not only how to use a bidet but also how it works, what are you waiting for? It’s time to call that plumber to equip your toilet with one. Or simply purchase a bidet that you can install yourself. You will not regret the decision to join the bidet bandwagon.

After all, who does not like clean butts? Not ready for a bidet — use flushable wipes!