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Bidet History: Isn’t The Bidet From Europe?

By November 29th, 2023No Comments

The Bidet: A Complete “Behind” The Scenes Guide

Isn’t The Bidet From Europe?

More specifically, the bidet was an invention of France in the 1600s. Basically, it was a wash basin for your nether regions. Bidet comes from the French word “pony” or “small horse” and was used to indicate the fact that you were to straddle the seat as if you were riding. At first, French high society built little wooden or wicker ottoman bidets that were used for cleaning after a galop on an actual horse. The aristocracy and upper classes would spend the money on extra furniture and take the time to haul water just for the bidet because it stood as a sign of privilege and wealth. The Atlantic in 2018 did a great write-up of the history of the bidet and the lead up to the modern versions in The Bidet’s Revival.

The standard European version of the bidet was separate from the combined toiled-bidet system that is popular in the US right now and in Japan. The original European version of the bidet was a separate squat washbasin that could either fill with running water (after the addition of indoor plumbing) or had rear and front nozzles for a directed spray.

As technology improved, so did the features of the bidet. At first it was basically a bowl in a seat. In the 1700s, a spray spicket with a hand pump chamber was added to the bidet. Before indoor plumbing the bedroom was still a common location for a bed pan. So, the bidet was also located there as well. In the 1800s, when indoor plumbing became more popular, the bidet moved into the bathroom from the bedroom. From France the popularity of the bidet as a high society symbol spread to Western Europe, much of Asia, the Middle East, and even Latin America. However, entry into the US market for any product, bathroom products especially, can be difficult due to the learning curve of the American consumer and the cultural differences between countries.

US Reception

It wasn’t really until World War II that Americans really came into contact with the bidet in its natural habitat. Looking more like a washbasin for children soldiers either didn’t understand how to physically use the bidet or associated them with a more “lewd” connotation. Bidets were more often used by women during their monthly cycles to stay clean. However, the GI in France looking to explore what trouble he could get into on his down time often came across them in many of the bordellos, as the ladies would use them before and after. Thus, the enormously popular and sanitary bidet became a staple, and in some countries a legal requirement, while Americans associated them with unsavory hanky-panky.

A Japanese Hit


In a testament to American ingenuity, The American Bidet Company, started by Arnold Cohen in 1964, tried to sell a toilet seat that had a spritzing function. This was the first adaptation of the bidet to American toilet seat. At the time it was shown in studies to help with rashes, hemorrhoids, and many other underneath irritations. Because his father was suffering from many of those issues, he built the invention with the intent to help people with all sanitation issues and named it the Sitzbath. Starting in New York, he took the company to Miami. The Miami New Times has a delightful article on his inventive product and curious life entitled Behind the Bidet.

Though he was never successful at selling the Sitzbath to the Americans of the ‘60s and ‘70s, the Japanese sat on it immediately, having no longer the need to straddle the device. A Japanese firm in the late ‘60s, Nichimen Jitsugyo, started purchasing the Sitzbath before creating a model of its own. As it grew in popularity, the bidet toilet seat became a stable in Japanese homes. In 1980 Toto Ltd., one of the largest appliance manufacturers in Japan, started selling its version called the “washlet.” Talk about sitting on a gold mine. Asia embraced the modern toilet bidet with both arms (aka cheeks) wide open.

Today’s Options

Bidets for sale in the American market are not the old wicker or wooden bedroom horse shaped ottomans first produced in France. Further, there is no need to install a whole new piece of furniture in the bathroom, unless you would like the more modern European look. Instead you can opt for the electric Japanese creation that either comes as a toilet seat replacement or a combination toilet – bidet.

Whether you choose to install a separate bidet from your toilet or a combination toilet – bidet, you need to know what you want in a cleaning, cleansing, and sanitary situation. The separate bidet is a through-back to the European mentalities of two fixtures. This is great for Ex-Pats, but harder to integrate by non-natural bidet users. Instead, the toilet – bidet combination is an excellent way to get all of the great cleaning features from a bidet without having to leave the comfort of your white throne. With a push of the button, you can instantly spritz and dry discreetly and safely.

What To Look And “Feel” For

women seating on commodeWhen you are looking to invest in a toilet – bidet when you are remodeling your bathroom you need to know what your options are. You also need to know what you are looking for in the optional benefits to the different levels of models. When you think of toilet use what do you want to experience? A quality alone time experience for you and your thoughts could be improved by a heated seat, warmed water, drying air, a calming light, scented air freshener, and even a toilet bowl cleaner. Some international models will even play you a song.

So, when you are thinking about remodeling your bathroom, don’t disregard the quality of your toilet. It isn’t just a secluded seat for deep thoughts. Instead, view it as a place to stay clean and improving on your physical hygiene. A spritz of water and a puff of air may sound a bit odd, but instead you should think of your bottom! If it could talk beyond the random verbal raspberry, it would ask for a little love down below. Here are a few of the beneficial features of the modern toilet – bidet combination.

Heated Seats

Common to most higher end toilets the seat replacements or combination units come with a seat warming option to make the coldest late-night bathroom run pleasant. There is no need to cringe when sitting down as you will only expect a warm welcome and pleasant stay.

Warmed Water

No one likes getting hit by ice cold water unless it is the middle of the summer and you are at a backyard pool party. Even then it can be a bit of a shock. Instead of using water straight from the source, the combination systems have heating units or can hook into your hot water system. Either way, your behind will be kissed with a welcomed warmed water similar to a shower or sink faucet.

Air Drying

Think you need to pat dry? Think again. Many of the higher end models include an air-drying system that blow dryers you after the water has washed you clean. This allows hands free toilet use. The world has come a long way. With air-drying you can live in the future, today.

Illuminated Seats

Turning on the overhead light can be a blinding and visually painful experience. The brightness of the lights, your image in the bathroom mirror, all things better dealt with in the morning. Instead, an illuminated bowl allows for easy location and use even in the darkest of bathrooms. Your toilet – bidet becomes a nightlight, a lighthouse, in the cave. You can keep the overhead lights off safely, finally.

Scented Air

A luxury often left to plugins or bowls of ancient dead flowers, scented air is a pleasant feature of many of the toilet – bidet systems that help a person with the entire bathroom experience. There is no need think about how to detox the air, your toilet has it covered, literally and figuratively.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner


Each flush of the toilet is an opportunity for you to brush away the film on the porcelain bowl and for ugly brown film to grow around the edges and the water line. The toilet – bidet has you covered by integrating a cleaning mechanism into the functionality of the system. Cleaning you and cleaning itself, what could be better?

Fully Electronic

Most modern bidet – toilet combinations operate with electricity. The more advanced features need it to operate properly. Some that are not electric will not have the full functionality of the others. The electronic ones can have self-flushing features, and even a remote control to help customize the user experience. This could be color of the illumination, the angles of the spray, the intensity of the spray or the temperature of the water.

Wouldn’t you love to be pampered while your on the throne?

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