You’d be forgiven for thinking that a bidet is a foreign, unnecessary object only found in European countries or the depths of Asia.
But bidet fans will tell you about how much more of a deeper clean they provide, whilst also trying to dispel myths about increased water consumption (hint: they use less than producing toilet paper!).
In this article I’m going to clear up the most common misconceptions about bidets, and ask the question: are bidets sanitary?
In case you’re after a quick answer:
Yes, bidets are sanitary. Water is a very effective cleaning agent, and lots of bidets come with self-cleaning features to keep the hardware germ free.
Types of Bidet
Before we take a look at how sanitary bidets are, we need to clarify exactly what we mean by the term bidet. There are several different types of bidets, with some being cleaner than others.
Bidet attachments arguably provide the easiest transition into bidet use. They sit underneath your current toilet seat and have what’s called a spray wand attached which is where the water comes from.
The bidet attachments will generally have a control panel where you can adjust the position of the spray wand, and some will also have different temperature and pressure settings.
Bidet Toilet Seats
The seats tend to come with a lot of extra features such as heated seats, a drying function, and self-cleaning spray wands. They don’t require much movement to operate so are great for people with reduced mobility.
Most bidet seats are electric so require a power source in the bathroom but there are also a few non-electric options.
Standalone bidet units are completely self-contained and are separate from the toilet. While they’re common in some bathrooms, they’d be a surprising sight in an American bathroom.
Using them is much like using the toilet. You crouch down above the bidet, turn the bidet faucet on, and then wait until you feel sufficiently clean.
You can think of these as toilet showers. The water is provided via a spray hose that taps into your toilet’s water supply.
They hang up next to your toilet and when you want to use it you’ll need to position the wand yourself which can take some getting used to, but is made easier with our guide to using a bidet correctly!
Portable bidets, also known as travel bidets, are small compact devices that you can carry around in your bag for use on-the-go.
They’re simply designed, with most consisting of a squeezy plastic bottle that can be filled with water and a spray nozzle. You can also get battery-powered travel bidets which are operated with buttons rather than having to squeeze a bottle.
These are great temporary options for renters, or people who are recovering from surgery.
Are bidets sanitary?
We’ve broken down and examined each of the factors that affect how hygienic a bidet is.
You may think that the water sprayed from a bidet will cause a mess, possibly spreading harmful bacteria across your bathroom. Whilst this is not completely impossible, it is far from likely to happen when using a bidet normally.
Bidet toilet seats are a good way of ensuring that the spray is aimed directly at where it needs to hit, without running the risk of germs spreading outside of the toilet bowl. So no, bidets don’t get poop on them!
Women don’t need to worry about germs spreading to their frontal regions either. Lots of bidets offer a separate rear and feminine wash mode, both are perfectly positioned to clean just the area they’re meant to. For more information check out our article on the best bidets for women.
Some bidet seats even have a sensor that detects when you’re sitting on the seat before allowing the spray function to start. The same logic also applies to standalone bidets, where you need to physically sit or squat over the bidet spray.
When it comes to handheld bidets, the answer is a little more complex. With proper use, a handheld bidet can be sanitary and hygienic, but this is largely dependent on the user. People who are overweight or can’t stretch might find bidet seats easier to use.
Look for handheld bidets that have an adjustable water pressure setting – this will help ensure that the spray is not too powerful or overwhelming.
The water source
Another misconception people have is that the dirty water from the toilet is used in the bidet spray. This is completely and utterly false.
In fact, in the vast majority of cases the water being fed to the bidet is exactly the same as the supply being fed to the sink. Any contaminated water is not reused, instead following the same path as all of the other sewage.
Some of the more luxurious bidet toilet seats even have built in water sterilization mechanisms. For example some have nano silver filters in the spray wands.
The only case where the water might not be fresh is if you’re used a portable bidet. These need to be filled up before use. Usually this is easy if there’s a tap nearby, But if there’s no clean water source then you could come a bit unstuck.
The cleaning power – bidets vs toilet paper
The biggest debate when it comes to how sanitary a bidet is is how it compares to toilet paper.
We scoured the internet for a scientifically backed answer to this question, but couldn’t find anything that looked like solid evidence for either side.
One thing seemed certain though, using a bidet makes you feel cleaner.
Take this analogy –
“If you get poop anywhere else on your body, would you just use toilet paper to wipe it off?”
If, like most, you answer “of course not!”, then maybe it’s worth reconsidering taking such a different approach when cleaning your bottom. We’ve found that using warm water over cold water gives us the freshest feeling.
Also, toilet paper can be an irritant. If you have a sensitive bottom or suffer from itchiness, then ditching the toilet paper in favor of a bidet can help.
Of course, what most people end up doing is using a mixture of the two. First, you rinse with a bidet and then use a small amount of toilet paper (reusable toilet paper is more eco-friendly!) to pat yourself dry. This way you get the best of both worlds.
Should I use soap with a bidet?
We’ve been conditioned to use soap to clean almost every other part of our body, which begs the question, shouldn’t we use it to clean our bums too?
However, it’s a common misconception that you need to use soap with a bidet.
Using soap can make you feel cleaner and like you’re getting rid of more germs, but you don’t need to use it with your bidet. Warm water is more than capable of thoroughly cleaning the area.
We’re certainly not medical experts by any stretch of the imagination, but there’s one thing that we do know. Private areas are sensitive. Most soaps are too harsh to be used on the behind or frontal regions and will strip the area of natural oils.
If you’re dead set on using soap with your bidet, we’d suggest erring on the side of caution and looking for a gentle feminine wash.
Does a bidet get dirty?
It’s not unusual to wonder about the bidet itself getting dirty. Of course, just like a toilet can get dirty, so can a bidet. But lots of bidets are self cleaning.
Yep, you heard right! Self cleaning bidets are a real thing, and can come in very useful for those worried about the cleanliness of regular bidets.
Even the most basic bidet attachments have self cleaning wands that rinse themselves with water before and after use. More modern bidet toilet seats go even further and use technologies such as UV sanitation to clean the toilet bowl.
Other hygiene features you can find in bidet toilet seats include air deodorizers and antimicrobial plastics. Many also come with quick release hinges so you can easily take them off and clean underneath them.
Other types of bidet, like the stand alone bidet or hand held bidets don’t come with these self cleaning functions, so will require slightly more effort to keep clean.
How to clean a bidet?
Bidet manufacturers recommend using a mild antibacterial soap and a soft cloth to clean your bidet.
Vinegar is a really good natural disinfectant, so add a splash of this to your cloth if you want some extra cleaning power.
About once a year, if you have a bidet seat or attachment, it’s advisable to take the whole seat off and clean underneath it. Also, if the wands aren’t self cleaning these should be removed and rinsed once a month.
Hopefully this article has answered your question about whether bidets are sanitary or not.
In short – yes they are!