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Who invented the bidet

Who Invented The Bidet?

The History of Bidets 

Bidets are a convenient and comfortable addition to the bathroom, so it’s no surprise that they are becoming a more common sight in American households these days. But where did bidets originate from? And when were bidets invented

You may be surprised to learn that the bidet has been around for centuries. It was invented in France in the 1600s, during a time when full-on bathing was a laborious process. This may also answer the question, why do bidets exist?

Who Invented the Bidet?

While we aren’t completely sure who invented the first bidet, it was likely a French furniture maker named Christophe de Rosiers who introduced it in wealthy circles. It quickly became popular among the upper classes to freshen up after using the chamber pot. 

In fact, bidets became so popular in France that one artist even painted a portrait of a young aristocratic lady sitting on one!

French woman sitting on bidet oil painting historic

Origin of the Bidet—The Early Years

The first bidets were originally designed as small wash basins on wooden legs that you straddled to cleanse your nether regions. In fact, the word bidet (bidet pronunciation: “bih-DEH”) comes from the French word for "pony" or “little horse.” 

Antique Bidet Furniture

These were standalone fixtures that were typically placed next to the toilet. They consisted of a basin of water with a spout, and users would use their hands to clean themselves. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then. 

The Spread of the Bidet

In the 18th century, bidets began to be incorporated into furniture such as cabinets and chairs. Some featured a small water hand pump that could spray water. 

Bidets were popular with upper class society and often turned into ornate works of art. Surprisingly these pieces were often found in the bedroom since this is where the chamber pot was used. 
Antique wooden Bidet with artwork

But when were bidets popular in other parts of the world?

The bidet quickly spread from France to other parts of Western Europe. The invention of indoor plumbing really helped bring the bidet to other classes and countries. Indoor plumbing also helped move the bidet from the bedroom to the bathroom. It eventually looked less like a nice piece of furniture and more like a toilet fixture, with a faucet at one end that filled a small tub. 

TOTO Traditional European Bidet

In the 19th century, the bidet started making its way to other parts of the world, including:

  • South America
  • Asia
  • Middle East

It then started to morph into a few different forms, including a mini bidet shower nozzle attachment that is common in Southeast Asia. 

The Bidet in the United States

Though popular in other parts of the world, the bidet had a hard time catching on in the United States. This was due in part to the fact that the bidet was seen as a foreign and exotic item. Additionally, the American public was used to using toilet paper, and there was no perceived need for a more hygienic alternative.

Puritanical Family

Americans also had more puritanical values than their European counterparts. They were less likely to want to discuss bathroom habits and associated the bidet with scandalous activities. This attitude contributed to keeping the bidet from spreading across the country. 

The Bidet Revival

In 1964, the American Bidet Company tried to get the United States to embrace the bidet. The founder of the company created the bidet toilet seat to help his aging father. Studies have shown that bidets can help soothe sensitive skin issues like:

  • Rashes
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Anal fissures

While the bidet toilet seat still didn’t quite catch on here, it did make its way to Japan. 

TOTO Washlet

Eventually Japanese company TOTO took this bidet toilet seat design and revolutionized it with new technological advances like seat warming and controllable water pressure. They created the incredibly popular Washlet series, which is still a top-of-the-line bidet seat today. In fact, Google famously installed these luxurious toilets at their headquarters in Mountain View as an employee perk! 

Finally, in recent years, there has been a growing interest in bidets in the United States. This is due to a number of factors, including the increasing awareness of the health benefits of using a bidet, the growing popularity of Japanese bidet toilets, and the availability of affordable bidet attachments.

TOTO Neorest Japanese Toilets

But some Americans still wonder what is a bidet used for? And are bidets sanitary?

What is a bidet used for?

Bidets are used to clean yourself after using the toilet. They are considered more sanitary (and more comfortable) than using toilet paper alone since they wash with water instead of dry paper. Plus they are more environmentally friendly than wet wipes which can clog city sewers. 

The Benefits of Using a Bidet

There are many benefits to using a bidet. Bidets can help to:

  1. Improve hygiene: Bidets can remove more waste and bacteria than toilet paper alone. This can help to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections 
  2. Increase cleanliness: Bidets help keep personal areas clean and free of odor. This is especially beneficial for people who suffer from bowel issues like Crohn’s Disease.
  3. Comfort: Bidets provide a more refreshing way to clean yourself up. This is great for people who have sensitive skin or conditions like anal fissures and hemorrhoids.
  4. Save money: Bidets save money on toilet paper. A study by the University of Leeds found that using a bidet can save the average household $1,300 per year on toilet paper.

The Different Types of Bidets

How to use a bidet depends on the type of bidet you have.There are three main types: bidet toilets, bidet toilet seats and non-electric bidet attachments

Non electric bidet attachments are usually installed under your existing toilet seat. They can also look like a small hose and nozzle and are attached to the side of the toilet (also called a bum gun). You manually aim and spray the hose wherever you need to wash. Bidet attachments are the less expensive, more basic type of bidet. 

Non electric bidet attachment bum gun

Electric bidets can be either toilet seats with a bidet attached or an all-in-one appliance where the bidet is built into the toilet. In this case there is a button or remote that you press to spray water where you need to clean. Some higher-end bidet toilets even have an adjustable dry mode that dries the area with warm air. 

American Standard Electric bidet seat

How to use a bidet as a woman doesn’t differ much from how men use them. Many electric bidets have a front spraying nozzle option to help clean up feminine areas. Bidet attachments are easy to use from the front or back. 

The Future of the Bidet

Where are bidets common now? And what can this tell us for the future? 

Bidets are common in several countries across the world, including:

  • France
  • Italy
  • Portugal
  • Argentina 
  • Japan

The bidet is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. As more people become aware of the benefits of using a bidet, either from more frequent travel to these countries or from increased globalization, the demand for bidets is expected to continue to grow.

Conclusion

If you’re new to the world of bidets, you may have wondered how long have bidets been around? Are they a new fad? 

Hopefully we’ve shown that bidets have had a long and rich history. Although they have not been very popular until recently in America, many other countries have long been convinced of the health benefits and convenience of bidet use. 

So if you are looking for a more hygienic and comfortable way to clean yourself,  a bidet is a great option. Check out at our buyer’s guide and see how you can get started today. 

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