5 Things I Learned After Installing My First-Ever Bidet

published Jun 30, 2021
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I’m pretty sure the first time I saw a bidet was as a young teen on a family vacation. And I’m pretty sure my parents told me and my younger brother that it was for washing underwear. I accepted it for years because the alternative — that it was in fact for washing BUTTS — just seemed too outrageous.

As an adult, though, my bidet curiosity was piqued. I remember going to a restaurant in downtown NYC that had an extremely fancy toilet in the bathroom with about 10 different buttons next to the seat controlling various comforts. I managed to find one for heating the seat (heavenly!) but didn’t get any farther before I started to feel guilty about holding up the line (formed not because of the unique draw of this special toilet but because the law of women’s bathrooms is that there must always be a line).

Not that long after, I started seeing more bidets and smart toilet seats on the market; then, I started seeing them in my Facebook and Instagram feeds, and hearing about them from obsessed friends who seemed to be constantly evangelizing.

And then… COVID-19 happened, and panicked toilet paper runs were creating a short supply of not only my beloved TP, but also bidets as people started to seek bathroom solutions that wouldn’t require them to stalk their grocery store’s paper goods aisle.

I was one of the suckers stuck playing the TP lottery, which made bidets all the more appealing. Fewer grocery store trips? Less to buy? Fewer toilet paper rolls for our dog to steal from the trash and shred to pieces? Sign me up. I finally got my hands on one this year, courtesy of Whisper. Here’s what I learned as a first-time bidet owner.

1. You don’t need a modern toilet, but you do need a modern supply line.

The process of installing the bidet is not complicated, but heed my warning: Not every toilet is equipped for it. Whisper notes this on their site, but I ran into the problem firsthand when I realized mid-job that my rigid water supply line looked nothing like the flexible, easy-unscrew one in the illustrated instructions.

Whisper says installation takes 10 minutes, so naturally, I started the project at midnight. This was a mistake. That’s because I could not, with any amount of effort or any tool in my house — wrench, pliers, rubber band to grip — get the darn water line to unscrew from my toilet.

After about an hour, I’d wiggled my water line loose enough that it leaked all over my floor once the water was cranked back on, but I still couldn’t get it all the way off to install my bidet. Then, disaster: I couldn’t get it back up, either. The toilet was out of order for the time being. Whoops.

I called for a plumber in the morning. Nearly $200 later, here’s what I learned: Old-school rigid supply lines like mine were used as late as the 1990s, and work great for ferrying water from the pipes to your toilet. Unfortunately, they’re made to be single use — which is why once you unscrew it (like I did), you can’t get it back in. A flexible supply line is what you’ll need to install a bidet, and it will run you a whopping $7 if you don’t already have one. If you’re uncomfortable replacing the line yourself, a plumber can do it — just tell them when you call that you want to swap your toilet’s rigid water line for a flexible one. The job will take 15 minutes or less.

(Also: When I actually had the correct supply line, the installation really did only take about 10 minutes, and the illustrated instructions were easy to follow. If you’re more of a video person, Whisper has that on their site, too. As long as you’re working with the right type of supply line, this install is very much beginner-friendly.)

2. You’ll need a nearby outlet or hot water line if you want warm water.

Like other affordable bidets on the market, the Whisper bidet I have hooks straight into the room temperature water supply line that feeds to my toilet tank. There aren’t any fancy controls — just varying degrees of “on” — which is perfect for me. It easily fits my bathroom layout and is just the right amount of “treat yourself.”

If you’re expecting a warm spray to your tush, though, you’ll need to shell out for a fancier model that either hooks into your sink’s hot water line, or plugs into a nearby outlet. While these cost less than a full-on smart toilet, they’re still much pricier than the Whisper — and your ability to install them will depend on whether your bathroom’s layout can accommodate them. On the other hand, the Whisper bidet works in virtually any bathroom layout, so you can easily take it with you when you move to use in your next place — which may or may not be the case for a plug-in model.

3. These are renter-friendly, but can easily be forgotten.

Speaking of moving: That plumber I called? He says he frequently gets hired by landlords and management companies to take out bidets that were left behind by tenants. If you’re putting one in your apartment toilet, don’t forget to un-screw it before you move out so you can reap the benefits at your new place, too.

4. Cleaning your toilet is a little trickier (but not too much).

Your toilet brush shouldn’t touch your bidet’s nozzle, so you might have to remove your bidet from the toilet seat before cleaning depending on how deep your toilet bowl is. Fortunately, that takes only a few extra seconds, and also gives you the opportunity to thoroughly clean under and around your toilet seat.

As far as the actual bidet goes, the Whisper model has a handy self-clean function that flushes the nozzle with fresh water; this should be run for a couple seconds before and after every use. Every once in a while, it’s a good idea to clean the nozzle with a soft cloth and dish soap.

5. You really will buy less toilet paper.

My toilet paper purchasing has not gone down to zero — nor will it ever — but it has lessened from once per week purchases down to once every other week (about half!). I like that I’m saving money, and I like even more that I’m cutting down on our household’s consumption of nonrecyclable paper products. Hate to say it, but I think my Whisper has turned me into one of those vocally obsessed bidet people.