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Do you need a bidet seat? Well, that’s a matter of very personal opinion. More people are answering yes.
If you haven’t tried one, it replaces your existing toilet seat, attaching to the bowl. It draws water from the toilet’s supply line and electricity from a nearby outlet. With the press of a button on a remote, a wand extends beneath you and trains a stream of water powered by an electric pump to clean your underparts. Some have fancy options, such as dryers.
The bidet has come a long way since it first caught on among 17th-century French aristocracy. You can still find the classic porcelain basin that looks like a toilet but sprays clean water, providing a rinse for your backside.
The primary benefit manufacturers tout for bidets is an easier-than-wiping cleaning experience.
Kohler, the kitchen and bathroom fixture manufacturer in Wisconsin, reported an eightfold increase in bidet seat sales this past March compared with the same time last year. Tushy, one of a group of startups that offers a less expensive product, says its sales more than doubled this past year.
Toto, one of the largest players, is based in Japan and has sold more than 40 million bidets worldwide since 1980. It says demand is growing rapidly from customers in a wide range of income brackets.
“Consumers are expressing their opinion on e-commerce and social media with words of love,” says Bill Strang, Toto USA’s president of operations and e-commerce. “It’s better than a television commercial.”
A medical expert told CR that bidet users should make sure they pat themselves dry after using one. This protects the skin in potentially sensitive areas from problems associated with excessive moisture, says Allen P. Chudzinski, M.D., a colon and rectal surgeon who is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.
Here are some considerations for anyone considering a bidet seat. Below that, members can read on for a selection of top-rated toilets.
Bidet Seats: What You Need to Know
Cost: Prices range from $30 on Amazon for a Brondell bidet seat that simply sprays water to $1,900 for Toto’s top-of-the-line S550e bidet seat with washlet+, which features a warm air dryer and personal memory settings for two users. Some bidets are mechanical rather than electric (using just water pressure, like your toilet does to flush).
Size: To determine fit, all you need to know is whether your bowl is round or elongated; there are only two types.
Installation: Some manufacturers, like Toto, offer DIY YouTube videos (and in-home service if you aren’t sure about installing). Bidet seats will work with toilets from any manufacturer, but some might not fit perfectly on the bowl, though they’ll still work. Check with the bidet seat manufacturer to make sure that the model you’re considering is compatible with your setup.
Really, that’s all? A bidet that’s a separate ceramic fixture requires you to remodel and replumb your bathroom to install it. You can also buy a toilet with a built-in bidet and hire a plumber to install it, or buy a bidet seat and install it yourself. By far the easiest and least expensive way to bring a bidet into your life is with a bidet seat.
Bidet Seat Features
The following are popular features you may want to look for.
Remote control. Bidet toilet seats can be controlled by a small panel on the side of the unit, by remote control, or both. Some users prefer a remote control because they don’t need to turn and look down at a control panel.
Tankless water heater. Most bidet toilet seats are outfitted with mini water tanks that heat and store water until it’s needed. Tankless bidet seats heat the water on demand, which means they can provide a limitless warm spray. (Tank models can run out of warm water in under a minute, but that’s enough time for most users.) Tankless models also usually have a more streamlined profile that some consumers prefer.
Automatic open/shut lid. Some high-end models have a seat lid that raises automatically when a user approaches, then closes when the user leaves the bathroom.
One-button operation. Many models have buttons on the remote to adjust temperature, water pressure, water direction, and other functions. Some models also have a one-button option that washes and dries for a set time at a set temperature for ease of use, and so that guests won’t require a tutorial.
Oscillating spray. This function provides a short-motion oscillating spray for wider cleansing.
User presets. These allow people to program the remote with their preferences for water temperature, pressure, and spray position so that they don’t need to make adjustments with each use.
What about toilet paper? You’ll probably still need to use some to pat yourself dry, albeit less than usual. Some manufacturers, like Tushy, claim that their bidet seats result in less toilet paper waste and water use.
Aren’t wipes an easier option? Wipes are cheaper and less of a hassle than a bidet in the short term, but they’ll almost certainly add to your toilet clogs. And many colon and rectal surgeons advise patients to avoid wipes because many contain drying agents, such as alcohol, that can lead to itching and other problems.
Best Toilets From CR’s Tests
If you’re considering a bidet, you may also want to buy a new toilet. Many of the newest models save more water per flush and have coatings on the interior of the bowl that can help reduce soil and odor. The toilets featured below are compatible with bidet seats. Just make sure you buy a seat for the appropriate bowl shape. (Most toilets made today have an elongated bowl shape.)
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