Okay, but how do you sit on a bidet?

1) Dear Alice,

What's a bidet?

2) Dear Alice,

I was glad to see an explanation for the purpose of a bidet. I've seen them in other countries and in upscale homes here. I still don't understand, though, just exactly HOW one uses it. There is no actual seat. Are you supposed to "hover" over the water jets, or what?


Dear Reader,

If you travel through Europe, Asia, and Latin America, you may stumble upon a device that looks a lot like a toilet sitting right next to the actual toilet. These are called bidets (rhymes with "hooray," "relay," and "filet"). The water jets of bidets are commonly used to clean the anus and genital areas after using the bathroom, sexual activity, or when you’re just feeling the need to freshen up!

Bidets come in many shapes and sizes. Similarly, they’re used in a variety of ways. For the most conventional, stand-alone bidets, the following steps may be helpful when attempting to use one for the first time:

  1. Always use the toilet before using the bidet. The bidet isn't an actual toilet!
  2. Mount the bidet. You may straddle, sit, hover, or squat facing either direction — it really just depends on where you want the water jets to hit and how you’re most comfortable. Some people find that straddling the bidet to face the nozzle gives the best control over jet settings and water temperature. You may need to take your pants off in order to comfortably mount the bidet without getting your clothing wet.
  3. If adjustable, make changes to water temperature and pressure so that the experience is comfortable for you. Beware of notoriously powerful jets! It may be helpful to inspect the bidet before turning the water on so you can identify where the water will come out and position your body accordingly. Stories abound of unwary users getting a jet of water to the face.
  4. Readjust your position so that the water hits the areas you want to clean. Some bidet models fill with water instead of spraying jets. In this case, use the water and your hands to clean your genitals and anal area as you would in a shower.
  5. Dry off! Some bidets have heat settings or built-in air dryers for this purpose. If not, you may decide to use toilet paper or a designated towel.

Newer bidets, especially those found in the US today, are often built into conventional toilets. Usually, this takes the form of an adjustable mechanical nozzle located inside the toilet bowl under the rim, which can be used to wash off while still sitting on the toilet. These bidets might be technologically advanced (with some designs offering automatically adjustable massage jets, seat warmers, and internal cameras that locate the lower body orifices to clean), or they might be simple handheld models that use a flexible hose to squirt water at whatever it’s aimed at.

Though it may be a struggle at first, figuring out how to use a bidet may be beneficial in the long-run. Consistent bidet use has the potential to improve personal hygiene by ensuring your skin is clean and healthy, and it may also reduce or even eliminate the amount of toilet paper you use. This can save you money on toilet paper purchases, reduce your carbon footprint, and help avoid toilet clogs and future plumbing problems. All told, a bidet benefits not just your body but your wallet and the environment as well!

With advances in healthcare technology and the consistent spread of cultures and traditions across the globe, bidets may begin to become more common in places they’ve never been before. It’s time to start practicing your stance!

Last updated Apr 29, 2022
Originally published Feb 08, 2002

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