Ever since reading Farhad Manjoo's ode to the high-end toilet-seat bidet in the New York Times in 2015, I've been curious to try one. Although I was familiar with standalone porcelain bidets, I'd never successfully used one, and I'd definitely never tried the attachment-style bidets he was raving about — the ones that you sandwich between your toilet and your toilet-seat lid, and that have a little nozzle that emerges, Alien-like, at the push of a button to spray your butt (and whatever else you like) with water.
The bidet Manjoo preferred cost $350 at the time of the article; I'm finding a similar model going now for $420 on Amazon. I emailed him to see if he still uses it, and he does: "Yup, still have it (and now others in the rest of our house) and love it," he wrote. "I find it hard to do without. I don't get why everyone doesn't have one."
I felt the same way, even though I'd never tried one: While I had already been convinced by his story, and by The Sweethome's further exploration into the world of electronic toilet-seat bidets, I'd never been quite compelled enough to shell out $250 for a toilet-seat accessory, which seemed to be the amount to pay if I wanted to experience bidets in the ways these writers were experiencing bidets. It was only when the Apartment Therapy team received a tester — and under-$100 — non-electronic unit that the idea for this post came about.
Note: While there are toilet-seat bidets in this price range that have hot-water attachments, I decided to try exclusively cold-water bidets.
How It Works
The idea behind this type of bidet, in case anyone isn't familiar, is that with a couple of extra pieces for your toilet's current plumbing, you reroute some of the water that flows from the water source (in the wall) into your toilet's tank by adding a splitter to that pipe (or hose). The newly rerouted water then flows through the bidet and into a little nozzle beneath the rear of your toilet seat, and you can then spray it up onto your nether regions with the turn of a dial.
Here are some questions I had before starting:
Are these under-$100 units any good? Are they easy to install? (Even for someone who doesn't know anything about plumbing?) And what's up with the cold-water thing? Wouldn't that be more than just "not as good as warm water" but actively unpleasant? Or does the fact that it's cold water truly not matter, as thousands of Amazon reviewers claim? (But, really, how could it not matter?!)
Also: Wouldn't water that just cleaned your rear potentially get into your female anatomy? And what are you supposed to do about having a wet butt after all this? If you're supposed to pat yourself down with a towel, is that hygienic? And do you just keep that towel in the bathroom? (Is it your regular towel?) And if you aren't sitting properly, would water spray up between your legs, or from behind your butt (or otherwise shoot upward like some wild toilet fountain)?
Here are the three units I tested.
TUSHY ($69 for the cool-water model)
This was the bidet unit that inspired this post (by being sent to our office), and out of gratitude/loyalty the TUSHY was therefore the first bidet that I tried. I came in ready to haul the units home from the office (they'd sent us two), with backup help at the ready, but it turned out that the TUSHYs (and the other bidet seats I tried) were surprisingly light — I could carry both TUSHY boxes under one arm, although I did put them in a bag, so I wouldn't be the person carrying boxes labeled "bum wash a.k.a. booty cleaner a.k.a. avant garde post poo routine a.k.a. your new butt buddy" on the train.
Installation: I started this review optimistically, thinking that I'd be popping these bidet attachments on and off my toilet with ease, more or less the way people might try on different hats. That did not turn out to be my experience — although it might be for you. It depends on what you face when inspecting your toilet's current plumbing. Mine, for instance, had a straight pipe between the wall water source and the toilet tank (which is common), meaning I needed to swap it out for a bendable, braided-steel hose, which I could either buy on the TUSHY website (for $6), or get on my own at the hardware store. I got it at the hardware store.
It took me about half an hour and a couple of tools, given my toilet's proximity to the wall (and the weird angles that called for), to get the original pipe off and the new braided-steel hose on. It was also unexpectedly difficult to get my toilet seat off, but hopefully I'm an outlier there (I think the pins were outdated). But then, finally, another half-hour or so later, when I got the TUSHY all set and ready to be used, it was legitimately thrilling. (Although when I first turned the water back on, it sprayed out a bit from two of the places I hadn't screwed in tightly enough, but that took only a couple minutes to fix.)
The bidet experience: My first use was exciting; I made a noise like laughter when it hit me. It's somehow true what everyone says — the cold water thing just isn't a big deal. I don't know how to explain or justify, but maybe butts just aren't that sensitive to water temperature. I'm also not in any rush to further mess with my bathroom plumbing (the warm-water models call for a hookup to the hot-water source under the sink). So maybe it's part determination to not hate it, but the cold water really is totally fine.
But, here's a play-by-play of how the TUSHY works, specifically: Once you're done going to the bathroom, and while you're still sitting down, you twist a dial to turn on a spray of water that zaps you in the butt. The dial further adjusts the strength of the spray, and a little lever adjusts the angle at which it's hitting you. (It's sort of like pin the tail on the donkey.) When you feel clean, or bored, you turn it off.
Using the TUSHY felt a little like sitting on a tiny but very intense sideways water fountain, like there was the direct jet of water, yes, but then there also seemed to be ambient, smaller clouds of other water (ricochet water?) coming off around it. But it wasn't unpleasant, and it didn't feel like any water was getting anywhere other than on my own body, and on the underside of the toilet seat. Afterward, my butt/crotch was pretty thoroughly wet, and I did pat down with a towel. (I don't see how you couldn't.) Which was slightly awkward, because if you're wearing pants, you kind of hop around and try not to drip water on your clothing. (Although I got better at this.)
TUSHY's website also addresses the question of rear-cleaning water potentially coming into contact with female anatomy. Or, as they put it in their FAQ section:
If you're thinking, "Hmm, so this bidet is spraying water up onto my butt, so wouldn't that poop water get in my vagina?" Well, we have seen time and time again that this magical splash is an effective way to remove fecal matter and even prevent UTIs. Our super smart doctor friend John Cluley, M.D. says that, "any trivial amount of bacteria the urethra is exposed to as a result of using a bidet is far outweighed by the improved hygiene you have by using the bidet in the first place."
Hardware: Although the "noir" model of TUSHY didn't match my toilet (but they do have a white one), I didn't mind that, and I did appreciate its sleek look. The TUSHY lifted my toilet seat up about a half-inch in the back, but the seat rested against the front lip of the toilet in the front, so it didn't clatter around when I got up or sat down. (In reviews for other, non-TUSHY models, users suggest buying additional under-seat bumpers, but I didn't find this necessary with the TUSHY.)
Overall: I love it. I love spraying myself with water instead of using toilet paper. I get it now.
And an upside of the more-challenging-than-expected installation experience is that I got more familiar with some concepts of basic plumbing, which makes me even more incredulous that this unit is $69 (not that I paid for it, but still), since it's such a basic mechanism. That being said, I'm grateful for the TUSHY for opening my eyes to the pleasures of the bidet experience. I'd say, officially, and after only two days of use, that I never want to go back to not having a bidet.
The No. 2 bestselling bidet attachment on Amazon, the Astor CB-1000 is also the cheapest of the top seven bestselling bidet attachments on Amazon (No. 8, the Greenco, is $22.99). While researching this and other bidets, I came across a website called The Toilet Keeper, a general toilet-review and toilet information site (although it seems they've been on hiatus since 2015). In their favorable review of the Astor CB-1000, they embedded this helpful video on how to install it, in case anyone wants more of a visual idea of what's going on.
Installation: I can't imagine many people will be in the same boat I'm in, which is installing and uninstalling three different bidets in a row, but I'd say the Astor bidet generally lived up to its promise of "All it takes is a screwdriver and 10 to 20 minutes of your time" — except I also needed a wrench, but that was in part to disassemble the TUSHY. I'd say it would have taken me 20 minutes if I'd started cold. No swearing, no leaks (no extra tightening needed). Impressive.
Oh, and even though the Astor was the cheapest of the three bidets I tried, it was the only one to come with its own braided-steel adaptor hose (the part I'd gone out to buy from the hardware store for the TUSHY).
Hardware: Nothing too fancy, just a single nozzle and a straightforward dial to turn the water on and ramp up its pressure from low to high. And the pressure is pretty powerful: I was happy with the higher end of low; mid-range kind of stung; and I can't imagine ever wanting to go all the way up to high, but I guess you never know. And I'm not sure if this is because of the way I installed it, but now that my toilet seat is sitting atop the Astor bidet in the back, it no longer rests against the lip of the toilet in the front; instead, it projects out into the air a half an inch, so that each time I sit down, the seat makes a little knocking noise as it hits the toilet. It's not so bad, but I can see this getting irritating. Amazon users suggest buying additional bumpers from a hardware store for the front of the toilet seat for just this purpose.
The bidet experience: I miss the lever that the TUSHY had, which allowed me to toggle the flow of water up and down, but, really, it's fine without. Same powerful spray of cold water (that somehow isn't unpleasant or even especially cold feeling), and if I scooch around I can accomplish the same effect as with the lever. The Astor's stream of water feels like a laser with ambient water-frizz around it. It gets the job done, and afterward I needed to dry off with a towel. So far no guests, yet, so I don't have to take that part into account ("Oh, just don't use the green towel, that's the one I use to dry my butt").
Anyway, the Astor is great. Perfectly fine, and I appreciate its low price. It's as effective and straightforward the TUSHY, and for $45 less. I'm getting attached to these bidets.
Overall: Yeah, I love these bidets. I don't love installing and uninstalling them, but I'm coming to enjoy the satisfaction of that, too, the longer I go without a major disaster. Knock on wood.
And now for my final bidet.
Nine of the top 20 best-selling bidet attachments on Amazon come from Luxe Bidet, and all of them are favorably reviewed, which made it especially hard to pick which one to try. Luxe Bidet's least expensive model is also Amazon's No. 1 overall best-selling (and most-reviewed) bidet attachment — but the company also has a warm-water model that sells for less than the cold-water Tushy (and which The Sweethome nodded at in their excellent overview of generally more-expensive bidets).
I finally settled* on the model 180, which was tied with the 185 as the highest-rated, at a 4.7 star average, out of nearly 2,000 reviews. Like the other bidet attachments I tried, the 180 sprays cold water from a nozzle at the back, under the toilet seat, but unlike the others, this one also came with a specific "feminine" nozzle option, in that it was "Equipped with dual nozzles for rear and frontal wash." Further: "The frontal or feminine wash is gentler than the rear spray. It can be useful for monthly cycles and is highly recommended by new or expecting mothers." (Note: If you wiggle around, the other bidets can generally also be used in this way.) I reached out to Luxe Bidet about this story, and they sent me a unit to review and keep.
(*Okay full disclosure, I actually got that warm-water model, the 320, but then realized after I got it that I should probably be testing only cold water models, to reduce variables, so I checked to make sure that if I just didn't hook the 320 up to the hot water outlet, it would behave like a 180 — shoutout to the lovely Ella in customer support at Luxe Bidet!)
Installation: I was feeling like a bidet pro at this point, and the Luxe Bidet was a relative breeze to install, taking about 10 minutes to put together, as advertised. The installation package even came with its own plastic wrenches for tightening, although they didn't seem to quite fit the nuts they were made for, and I just used my own wrench for tightening.
Hardware: The dual-nozzle Luxe Bidet's console has a lever and a dial. The lever at the top turns the water on, and the dial below it controls the water's power and which nozzle it emerges from: "wash" comes out straight at your butt, while "women" comes out angled more toward the front.
The bidet experience: I loved it, it was wonderful. The Luxe Bidet's nozzles emitted direct, even flows of water — it was my favorite of the bunch — and I especially loved its "women" option. (If I had to pick, I'd rather have a "women" option than a warm-water option, which I wouldn't have guessed before getting into this. The cold water now feels like a pleasant and important part of the bidet experience.)
Overall: Great. I would choose the Luxe Bidet 180 as my forever (or, for now) bidet, although all three were very similar, and I liked them all.
My conclusion is that I love the bidets. I'm already wondering how many fewer showers I'm going to take, which also makes me wonder if bidets are the new (old?) dry shampoo.
I'm still curious about those fancy Toto Washlets, but having enjoyed these no-fuss, far less expensive bidets as much I have makes me wonder if it's a grass-will-always-be-greener situation. Although I'm also tempted to try to make a bidet myself using the DIY guides I'm finding online.
But, to try to answer the remaining questions I had before getting into this:
Are these under-$100 units any good? Absolutely. You don't even need to spend $50 — or $30 — to get a good one.
Are they easy to install? (Even for someone who doesn't know anything about plumbing?) Well ... that depends a lot on your toilet's current plumbing situation, but if I can do it, you probably can, too. Definitely have a wrench, though, and give yourself about triple the time suggested.
If you're supposed to pat yourself down with a towel, is that really hygienic? And do you just keep that towel in the bathroom? Is it your regular towel? I'm still not totally sure about this one, but having a secondary towel for this seems reasonable. I've just been lightly patting myself dry with my regular towel. (Although TUSHY did just come out with "silky-strong-kinda-soft" bamboo toilet paper for just this purpose.)
If you aren't sitting properly, would water spray up between your legs, or from behind your butt? No. Although I can imagine that with small children around, these bidet attachments might not be a great idea (for the adults).
(I should maybe mention that at some point during the installation and uninstallation of these three bidets, my toilet tank sprang what seems to be a very small leak. Once that's fixed, though, I'll put the Luxe Bidet back on for good. I think.)