If you’re from a country where these are uncommon (which I’m kind of assuming you are. Otherwise, I’m surprised about your desire to only now learn to master one) then you’re probably thinking one of two things when you hear that word:
a) “What the hell is a bidet?”
Or, if you are familiar with what is it…
b) “Uh…the bum-washer?! No, thanks.”
But hold up! If travelling is all about trying new things and embracing new cultures, then who are you to write it off so fast? Embrace the bum-washer!
Allow me to teach you more about bidets, why they’re useful, and provide you with a few handy tips and tricks to master it! You never know. You may become a bum-washing convert.
What is a bidet?
Bidets were first invented in France in the 1700s (when bathing the entire body was a weekly affair) as a way to keep your nether regions fresh in between baths. The word “bidet” comes from the French word for “pony”, in reference to how one sits astride the bidet as if riding a pony. There, now doesn’t that make them seem less threatening?
Bidets are those strange contraptions next to the toilet that you’ll find in bathrooms across the globe. Although it looks a little like a toilet, it is not a toilet! It is more like a mini basin for washing your private parts. Don’t be a prude- it’s actually very hygienic, even if it does take a little getting used to…
When is a bidet useful?
Not to put too fine a point on it: after a bowel movement. It makes sense really. If you wanted to wash your face, would you wipe it with a dry paper towel? No, of course not – you’d head straight to the sink. Makes sense to give your bum the same treatment, right?
Other than that, bidets are a quick and easy way for you to freshen up before and after sex, and during your period.
They can also be used for a number of other, slightly less icky tasks. They make great foot baths for a weary traveler after a hard day’s sightseeing, and can also double up as a convenient second washbasin when you need to rinse off the contents of your bag in a hurry following yet another shampoo explosion, for example. Just don’t drink from them!
Okay. So how do I use one?
So I’ve convinced you to give it a try. Here’s how to go about it like a pro:
- Just to state the obvious: if you want to use the bidet for its primary use, then go to the toilet first! Then wipe yourself off, as normal, at least once. You do not want anything going down the bidet. It is not designed to cope with that. So just don’t go there.
- Now we’re all clear on that, it’s time to mount it: you either face forwards (like a normal toilet) or towards the faucet. Use your common sense and what feels most comfortable, as it really depends on the model. Although most bidets don’t have seats, you are meant to sit yourself fully down on the rim.
- Turn on the water carefully, and play with the power and temperature until happy. Some models have jets of water which you position yourself above to get the cleaning effect; other are more like basins that have to be filled, and you then rinse yourself with your hands using the water, as you would in the bath or shower.
- Once done, dry yourself off using toilet paper, paper towels or air dryers. On no account grab the nearest fluffy cloth towel though, as I assure you those are meant for hands only! Do not throw any of this paper towels in the bidet – it will clog it up. Put it in a bin or flush it down the toilet.
There you go! You’ve successfully navigated the bidet. That wasn’t too scary, was it? Another cultural experience to write home about (or maybe not…)