An Interesting Look At The History Of Bidets And Its Revival
Multi-ply toilet paper is the go-to way to wrap up the morning business for most Americans and Australians. But there exists another alternative. We’re talking about bidets. The history of bidets is quite interesting, and so is their recent rise to popularity.
But are you familiar with what bidets truly are, how they came into existence, and why people around the world are using these over toilet paper? If not, buckle in and start reading!
What is a Bidet?
Bidets are a type of plumbing fixture meant to help you wash your genitalia, anus, buttocks, or perineum after pooping. They come in various types, which we’ll explore a little further in this article.
In a traditional bidet, a person would have to straddle the toilet-like bowl. The word bidet means “pony” and comes from French. Today, it is one of the most prevalent toilet accessories. But its history is far more intriguing than you can ever imagine. So keep reading for an in-depth dive into it.
History of Bidets - All You Need to Know
Invention and Origin Of Bidets
While bidets are said to have been invented in the 17th century, there’s no information available on the inventor. Back then, these were used most frequently by the upper-class citizens of France. It was incredibly popular amongst the French aristocrats.
Bidets were such an integral component of the high society in France that when Marie Antoinette was in prison after being convicted post the French revolution, she got a red-trimmed bidet to stay clean. Moreover, some ancient French paintings also showcased it.
Bidet’s Spread to the Rest of Europe
Even though France was the champion of bidets back in the 17th century, by the 1700s, they appeared in other European countries like Italy. A written reference of bidet going back to as early as 1726 can be found in Italian writings.
A famous instance of bidet use in Europe is when the Queen of Naples and Sicily had a bidet installed for her personal usage in the latter part of the 18th century. Moreover, after the second world war, bidets gained further popularity in Italy.
Birth of Misconceptions Surrounding the Bidet
No new invention can save itself from lies, myths, and misconceptions. Naturally, the bidet couldn’t either. There was a time when bidet attachments were possibly a form of birth control. Women believed that rinsing their genital area with a bidet might save them from pregnancy.
Sex And Bidets
How could something like a butt-washing device be associated with sex? It was, and for a long time. American soldiers visiting brothels in European countries would often see bidets in bathrooms during the wars. So they eventually started associating these fixtures with prostitution.
Some historians also believe that the perception of bidets as contraception further fuelled its relation to sex. This perception made bidets a taboo for many Americans.
Even as bidets started being commercialized, these taboos prevented their popularity in America and other parts of the world.
Evolution Of Bidet Designs
Back when bidets were first invented, they weren’t even a part of bathrooms! Instead, bidets were installed and used in bedrooms. This happened mainly because of plumbing restrictions. During this time, bidets consisted of a nozzle-like attachment connected to a water pump handle. The water supply came from a refillable water tank.
As the 1800s dawned and plumbing saw significant advancement, bidets abandoned bedrooms and moved to bathrooms. Plus, they became far easier to use. A standard model during these times would consist of a tub with a faucet on one end. However, some models would even have a tub filled with water and would require manual cleaning.
In 1928, John Harvey Kellogg had patented a design involving a nozzle-like attachment to the toilet seat. He called his invention the “anal douche.”
After that, in 1964, the American Bidet Company released a similar design and tried to market it as a revolutionary replacement to toilet paper. Unfortunately, however, the message fell on deaf ears, and this bidet attachment called Sitzbath saw no interest.
During this same time, the Japanese replaced their squat toilets with western ones. And instead of using standalone bidets, they attached a nozzle to water closets themselves to act as a toilet bidet spray. Sitzbath inspired this design of Japan.
Such bidet toilet seats started becoming more and more advanced with time. Eventually, they even had provisions for temperature control and came with a well-designed control panel, adding a touch of technology to the entire butt-washing regime. These warm water bidet attachments are popular today, especially in cold countries.
We’ve got a few different bidet attachment designs in our store. Do check them out.
Various Different Types of Bidets
1. Stand Alone Bidets
These are the oldest designs of bidets, but they aren’t the most practical. As the name suggests, they are a separate fixture usually installed beside a water closet. Once you've defecated, you have to move over to the bidet to clean yourself.
Not only do they take up additional space in your bathroom, but they’re also pretty complicated to install. You’ll need separate plumbing and pipes to make sure these work.
However, despite these drawbacks, stand-alone bidets add a vintage touch to your bathroom. So if you have the space and want this classy touch, go for it.
2. Portable Bidets
Portable bidets are incredibly popular these days. The reason is pretty simple. They are not fussy or complicated to use. Plus, they can be carried around, which makes them great for travel.
If you suffer from piles, these could be a huge blessing whenever you use a public restroom. You can easily find an excellent portable bidet in Australia and carry it around every time you leave the house.
3. Toilet Seat Bidets
One of the most modern and trendy types of bidets, toilet seat bidets, are precisely what the name indicates: a toilet seat with a bidet feature.
The best bidet toilet seats today come with various features, such as a heated rim, temperature and pressure control, a warm air dryer, and even music. Today, many plumbing companies are designing bidet toilet seats with built-in AI features.
Most of these require electricity or battery power to run, so they’re also called electric bidet toilet seats or simply electric bidets.
Bidet toilet seats are indeed the picture of luxury and convenience. They’re highly convenient even for people with disabilities or mobility issues. If you have someone aged at home, these might make their life very easy.
Heated bidet attachments or those with the advanced features mentioned above are often very expensive. The technology that goes into making them is costly in itself, so these retail for hundreds of dollars. So they aren’t accessible for everyone. However, cheaper alternatives with limited functions are also available pretty easily.
4. Hand-Held Bidets
Extremely popular in countries where butt-washing is commonplace, hand-held bidets consist of a spray hose and a long pipe. These can be used in the same way as a hand shower, except to wash your genital region and buttocks.
Hand-held bidets are cheap and lightweight. Plus, they come in a variety of trendy designs too and are very easy to install. But they do have certain drawbacks that make them impossible for some people.
Firstly, using hand-held bidets requires a great deal of mobility compared to some of the other types on this list. If someone is physically challenged, they might not be able to use a hand-held bidet properly.
Second, most hand-held bidets do not come with a warm water provision. So it might not be suitable for particularly cold regions. However, some designs allow you to use hot and cold water both.
Despite these drawbacks, they are prevalent in some southeast Asian countries like India and Pakistan.
Aren’t You Enlightened!
We hope you enjoyed learning the history of bidets thoroughly. And now that you’re also aware of the different types of bidets available in the market and their pros and cons, you can try one yourself.
So check out the best bidets available right away and amp up your morning experience!