Living Space: A better bathroom experience? Bidet's the word
The TV commercial starts with a teasing promise that it will expose "what really goes on in the bathroom."
Well, the list of activities is short, unless you live in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Japan, where bidets are so popular and common that residents think America is unhygienic for not adopting this basic appliance.
Far from being a secondary toilet, the bidet is actually a very smart piece of porcelain. After using the bathroom, Europeans commonly straddle a bidet to wash the perineal region. The two most common models are 1. vertical, which features water squirting up from the center of a basin, and 2. horizontal, with a faucet and handles, that allows for washing much like one would in a bathtub.
Today, thanks to advances in technology, there are many other choices that range widely in level of complication and, of course, price. At the higher end, there are bidet/toilet combinations, such as the Toto S400 Washlet(totousa.com). This tricked out model can do everything for you automatically. With front and rear washing, heated seat and warm air dryer, the need for toilet paper is greatly reduced. The Toto sells for $1,200, but there are less expensive options that get the same job done less luxuriously.
Hand held bidets, such as the all-white Mrs. Bidet (mrsbidet.com) or the chrome Mini-Shower (Amazon.com) are around $50 and are unobtrusive sprayers that connect to standard toilet water connections and mount to the side of the tank. This puts the bidet in easy reach without the expense or extra space required for a traditional bidet, and the device doesn't look as institutional as a standard water spray head.
There are also a number of bidet toilet seats and attachments if you want something with more features.
A quick search of the Internet will help you narrow down exactly the style, functions and features you may need. If you want a traditional floor model bidet, Kohler and American Standard have a number to choose from.
Bidets are often associated with luxury because they're frequently found in expensive hotels and are considered a European touch in the bathroom. If you're visiting in Europe, you may spot them in many homes and standard hotels. A bidet is simply an appliance for cleanliness and hygiene. Bidets are especially helpful for those who've had surgery, suffer from hemorrhoids, or who have limited mobility.
Bidets are also a smart ecological choice. Today, more people than ever are using wet wipes in the bathroom and flushing them down the toilet - what many municipalities call sewercide. This practice is especially bad for septic systems. Even so-called "flushable" wipes don't break down as purported and now are becoming a severe problem for sewer systems across the country.
Given all the benefits, a bidet is a good idea for both cleanliness and conservation.
Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her web site, www.redlotusletter.com.