Consumer Guide: Shopping For Bidets

Describes basic types of bidets: inexpensive hand-held bidets, classic European bidets, and spray nozzle bidets with adjustable features.

Bidets for the American Bathroom

We see them in our hotel bathrooms when we travel to Europe. Perhaps we've even used bidets while abroad and have wondered where we can find good quality, low cost bidets in America. Europeans have long enjoyed the advantages of bidet use. Bidets conveniently provide the extra cleansing women need during and after menstruation and childbirth. They are also useful for those suffering from diarrhea and can soothe hemorroidal discomfort. Bidets provide convenient hygiene for the elderly and the obese and prevent many diseases, including colon cancer. Finally, bidets can be used by the entire family for regular cleaning. If you own a bidet, you can save the money you would usually spend on toilet paper, as well as saving trees.

There are bidets that suit every bathroom and price range. Hand held bidets begin at $25, while bidets that fit within existing toilets can cost anywhere from $200 to $600, depending on their quality and variety of features. Traditional bidet units usually cost between $400 and $600. Some common bidet brand names include Feel Fresh, American Biffy, Bio Bidet, C-B Bidets and Daelium.

The best hand-held bidets have a chrome head and hose and can fit into a water source that is separate from the toilet. These can be used in the shower or over a toilet bowl and usually begin at about $25-$30.

Traditional European-style bidets are either porcelain or plastic and can fit into a medium-sized bathroom alongside a toilet. The small faucets at the top of the bowl create a gentle stream of water for convenient cleaning. The cost of these bidets is similar to that of a regular toilet, around $500.

There is also a wide selection of bidets which fit into toilets. The most basic type can be installed with a pair of pliers or a screwdriver. They are made of durable plastic, and have adjustable water pressure and self-cleaning spray arms. These bidets don't occupy space in the bathroom and the spray arm can be positioned so that it is out of sight when not in use.

In the $200-$400 range are bidets which have adjustable temperature control (the bidets discussed up until now use mainly cold water). The source of the warm water is the bathroom sink. There are also pressure control options and self-cleaning nozzles. More advanced bidets have a 60 second automatic shut-off system, and water pressure that can be adjusted on four levels.

State-of-the-art bidets have adjustable nozzles that suit special needs. Some bidets have a feminine cleaning feature which uses a more gentle spray or a swirling jet for regular cleaning. There is a sit-on switch which is weight sensitive to prevent the bidet from shutting on when it is touched accidentally. Remote control buttons adjust type of stream, water pressure and temperature. Seats are heated and have warm-air dryers, especially soothing for hemorrhoid sufferers. Lids are slam-resistant and have a gentle closing feature. Some bidets are even equipped with alarm systems, a convenience for elderly consumers. These bidets range from $400-$600 and are made of germ-resistant plastic.

There is no reason to reserve bidet use for the occasional European vacation. Whether you choose an affordable hand-held bidet, a classic porcelain bidet or a heated bidet with remote control, you can feel confident that, by installing a bidet, you are improving the health and hygiene of the entire family.

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