The Boundless Benefits of a Bidet
2014 may have been the year of the booty, but it took me six cold and less-than-sterile more (plus 2020’s lockdown) to get mine into the warm seat of a Toto Washlet C200, my top pick in this rotund—or rather, well-rounded—assortment of bidet toilet-seat attachments—and love-letter the form.
Let’s start with the basics. Bidet is French for “pony”—ride it, indeed—but it was an American, Arnold Cohen, who invented the rump sprinkler in the early 1960s. In ’67, Cohen licensed his patented design to the Japanese toilet manufacturer Toto, which in turn, in 1980, debuted the Washlet series I know and adore.
An incredible marketing campaign ensued throughout the ’80s and ’90s, and now, approximately 80 percent of Japanese households plop down on the furniture. They really do do it better in Japan, where the devices are increasingly common (and in China, and in Korea… The list, like that megapack of TP that may last forever if you get a bidet, goes on). A good bidet attachment slides right on top of your toilet. You can (as I did) install it yourself, and its features range, depending on your model’s price point, from a cold jet of water with missile-like precision to a warm and ionized oscillating spray. Other features include heated seats, hot-air dryers, bowl-wetters, self-cleaners, deodorizers, lights, automatic seat-raisers, and digital music or sounds of the natural world (think: rain) to mask one’s earthly human business.
The result is no less than a revolution in self-hygiene, and, frankly, a better way to move through the day. Besides the extra confidence you’ll gain from perma-clean buns, you’ll save on toilet paper. (Bidets are good for the earth, too: The bidet manufacturer Tushy estimates that the water used to produce one roll is equivalent to 296 bidet squirts).
For those ready to hop on the bidet bandwagon, there are several models to compare. Consider the Omigo Element, a non-electric (i.e., powered by water pressure), bare-bones but functional apparatus that provides front and back washes, adjustable water pressure, and a self-cleaning function. (Heated water is available on the Element+ version.) There’s also the Tushy Classic 3.0, another basic, nonelectric perch that inflicts an ice pick of pain; or BioBidet’s BB-600 Ultimate Bidet Seat, a low- to mid-range model that is operated via a side control panel instead of a remote. Offered in two sizes, for round or elongated bowls, it has a wash for him and her with adjustable positions, warm water and air dying, and a heated seat.
My favorite, as mentioned earlier, is the Toto Washlet C200. It has all the features of the BioBidet, plus others that include a pulsating spray, an automatic air deodorizer and wand cleaning, a soft-close lid, and a “pre-mist” that wets the bowl before each use. A comparable but slightly pricier second is the remote-controlled Lotus ATS 2000, which is made only for elongated bowls and offers a soothing “oscillating/massage” function.
I’ll never forget my first encounter with a Toto Washlet, at a family friend’s place in Japan’s Saitama prefecture, when I was six years old. The memory is recorded on a Sony mini-cassette from my parents’ long-dead camcorder. From behind it, I explain (to an American audience) each feature of the wall-mounted remote control system: “This one heats the seat. This one dries with warm air. This stops it.…” I wavered for a moment, my finger gliding over the “Front” wash button, too much for a small boy’s brain to bear, then descended, “And this one washes your butt.”
Almost three decades later, I’m still enamored with bidets, and less shy about singing their praises. In fact, I encourage all guests to rest their weary cheeks immediately upon entering my house. But don’t let this final word of advice wash over you unheeded: Invest—lest the ice pick hit you where it hurts—but there’s no need to break that (big) bank. A mid-range model with core features (warm water and seat, adjustable nozzle and pressure, and ideally a dryer) will keep your best end warm on the coldest winter nights, squeaky clean on sticky summer days, and veritably excited for one of life’s less-enthralling duties.