Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Bidet — Plus 6 You Can Shop Right Now

updated Feb 19, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image

We’ve seen them in the wild, heard about them from a friend who tried one while abroad, and contemplated buying one after heeding the advice of a rave reviewer who’s sworn by them for years. Who knows, maybe you’ve even used one yourself.  Bidets are far from “new” by any means and, in fact, their origins date back to the early 17th century, when they were invented to serve as a follow-up step to the chamber pot. Over time, bidets evolved and gained an entire slew of innovative features and accessories.

But while they’re lauded internationally and are more or less a household staple across the globe, bidets have had quite a mixed reputation stateside. The bidet has baffled the likes of many American consumers but did recently get the millennial reboot treatment, with obligatory direct-to-consumer options, too. And if the last year has shown us anything, it’s that the fixture is certainly getting a second chance here in the United States. It only took a pandemic and the great toilet paper shortage of 2020 for bidets to break onto the scene in this corner of the world. 

“When you look at search terms on Amazon, the bidet washlet became the 20th most searched item in March 2020,” says Bill Strang, TOTO USA‘s president of corporate strategy, ecommerce, and customer experience. In fact, it was only preceded by terms such as “rubber gloves,” “hand sanitizer,” and “toilet paper,” all of which were unavailable at the time. 

It’s safe to say that circumstances created unprecedented demand, finally ushering the bidet to popularity. Could it finally be the time to try one yourself? Here’s everything you need to know when it comes to buying a bidet

What Is a Bidet?  

The answer to what exactly a bidet is can be manifold. The key function is to wash and rinse you off after going to the bathroom, and that is true for all bidets, regardless of size, model, or make. That said, there is a wide variety to choose from and not all are created equal.

At the most basic level, there are electric bidets and manual ones. The latter will often look like a combination of a toilet and a sink (if it’s an older version), with levers and a faucet. If it comes in the form of a bidet seat attachment, it will typically include a handheld sprayer and a knob with which you can control the water. Electric bidets are a bit more advanced, with features such as heated seats, front and back sprayers, and a self-sanitizing mode.

“The most important and frequently referred to advantage of using a bidet is that people will say they feel cleaner going to the bathroom,” says Strang. “At the zeitgeist of where we are today, hygiene and cleanliness are absolutely the foundation of where people are experiencing angst and concern.” In that vein, bidets have turned from something that most want to something that they need, Strang adds.

Bidets are also an eco-friendly alternative. Sure, you may end up using a bit more water, but compared to the resources needed to manufacture, stock, and ship toilet paper, the bidet is likely the more sustainable of the two options. (And saving money on toilet paper is in itself a major plus.) 

Credit: Carina Romano

What to Consider Before Buying a Bidet

Before you purchase a bidet, there is a host of factors to keep in mind. Consider your budget and how much you would be willing to spend on the bidet, with installation-associated costs included. Will you be going for a tricked-out model or will you be content with a seat attachment? Prices will fluctuate depending on the bidet’s brand and style. At the most basic level, you can snag a manual bidet seat attachment for around $100-$200, while an electric version with advanced components can run upwards of $3,000. 

Finally, assess how much square footage you can allot for the addition and if you have the infrastructure to support one — the availability of water lines and the proximity of electrical outlets can be deciding factors. If you have the room to roam, you can easily bring in a separate bidet; those in smaller spaces may be better suited with a two-in-one option.

The Type of Bidets to Know 

Once you have a rough idea of what you’re willing to spend and what your expectations are from the bidet, you’ll be pretty much ready to make that purchase. Here are the most common varieties you’ll encounter.

If you’re looking for the real deal and the most traditional choice, a stand-alone bidet is the way to go. As the name suggests, a freestanding version is entirely separate from the toilet and comes with its own levers, faucet, and spray nozzle. While the benefit is that you have a dedicated spot to cleanse in, it will take up additional floor space and require added costs for installation. This classic TOTO freestanding bidet is equipped with a deck mount faucet and a vertical spray, plus a flushing rim, which is essential for rinsing out the basin. 

One of the more luxurious (and therefore costly) alternatives is a toilet with a built-in bidet. All the features are instantly elevated — you have an ample water source, a heated seat, sanitizing and self-cleaning modes, plus deodorizers and remote control functionalities. The pros of an integrated bidet are evident in this streamlined model from Woodbridge. It comes with both front and back nozzles, adjustable water pressure, a self-cleaning element, as well as a contoured heated seat, and a dryer.

Bidet seats offer the perfect middle ground in both design and cost. Most can be outfitted on top of your existing toilet, which means you’ll be swapping out the seat you have for the bidet version. This attachment includes a nozzle, and depending on which type you buy, you can opt for one with an oscillating element and different modes for water pressure. Toilet seat bidets come with a remote as well as built-in controls on the seat. This electric seat bidet from Bio Bidet Bliss has a fixed side control panel for comfort and convenience along with an array of washing modes — a “vortex” feature, an oscillating spray, and a hybrid on-demand heating system are among its many selling points. 

Bidet Toilet Attachments

If you’re seeking a less intrusive choice that can still provide a similar experience to that of a traditional bidet, go with a bidet attachment. Unlike the bidet seat, which requires you to purchase an entirely new top, this version is made to fit in between an existing toilet bowl and seat — simply remove the seat, place the attachment at the head of the basin, connect it to your toilet’s waterline, and place the seat back as it was. TUSHY’s easy-to-use product is virtually foolproof. The addition can pair with just about any type of toilet and comes with temperature control knobs as well as a self-cleaning nozzle. It requires no electricity and comes with everything you’d need to install it yourself. 

A bidet sprayer is an external attachment (think of it as a mini handheld showerhead) that serves the same purpose a standard nozzle would on a bidet seat. The primary difference is that your toilet seat will remain as is and the only addition would be the sprayer, which will live on the side of the toilet tank. This manual option is certainly more utilitarian and lacks the comforts that come with a seat attachment. That said, if you’re in the market for a product that can get the job done without the headache of dealing with installations and electrical wirings, this may be the next best thing. This Amazon find includes a nozzle with adjustable water pressure and has a flexible hose for easy use.  

A portable bidet (yes, they exist!) is a great way to test out the concept before fully committing to anything even remotely permanent. They’re significantly less expensive and small enough to remain discreet, even if you choose to openly display them in the bath. The downside is that you won’t be getting the full bidet experience, but at least it’ll get the job done. We previously covered Sonny, a travel-friendly bidet that’s equal parts chic and effective with its sleek form. Aside from that, there’s also TUSHY’s take on the concept, which features a collapsible bottle with a solid grip and a squeezable build that produces a strong and steady stream of water. It comes with a hinged nozzle and can hold up to 11 ounces of water.