Most Americans are unfamiliar with bidets (also referred to as washlets), which are similar to a toilet but not used as one. The word bidet (which is pronounced bee-day) is a French word meaning "pony", with the name's origin relating to the manner that the bidet is used by sitting astride as if one were riding a pony. The earliest bidets were built in France during the earliest part of the 1700s, when it was only expedient to bathe the entire body once each week. For this reason, the bidet was invented in order to keep the private areas of the body clean between weekly baths. By the 1900s, the bidet had made its way out of the bed chamber and into the bathroom, where it now has a place next to the traditional toilet. A bidet can help users maintain their personal hygiene and their dignity when they find it difficult to take care of such needs in the usual manner.
Bidet Use Growing in the U.S.
In most of Europe, the bidet is a standard installation and is thought of as having nearly as much importance as the shower or toilet in the modern bath; in fact, most homes have a bidet in at least the master bathroom. And while the majority of Americans have never even seen a bidet (other than on occasion at a chic hotel or posh resort), there are a growing number of U.S. homeowners who demand the usefulness of a bidet and more and more new constructions can be found with a bidet in place.
|Who Uses a Bidet?
A bidet can be used by either a man or a woman, and offers a hands free method of washing the genital and anal areas of the body. Bidets are invaluable as aids to personal hygiene, and are very beneficial for the elderly, disabled, handicapped, or anyone who has impaired motor functions or limited mobility due to accident, illness, or injury. Bidets are extremely popular for sitz baths in which only the buttocks and hips are soaked in a saline solution or water (very common for those who have had surgery in the rectal or vaginal area, hemorrhoids sufferers, inflammatory bowel disease, gave birth, or those with uterine, ovarian, or testicle discomfort). However, a bidet is not only for cleansing the private areas of the body but can be used as a foot bath or for other needs (some European users employ the bidet to bath their babies).
How is a Bidet Used?
A bidet can be a separate fixture in the bathroom or it can be an attachment that fits in with your existing toilet or plumbing system. The user of a bidet sets upon the bidet with one leg on each side, facing the bidet's faucets. The user then turns on the water, adjusts the temperature to the desired level, and then directs the stream of water towards the area that is to be cleansed. Other models are designed with seats that the user sits on in the same fashion that they would a traditional toilet. Most bidet owners install a grab bar near the bidet (especially when used for the elderly) in order to assist the person in getting on and off the bidet easily. Most bidets are made from vitreous china, shaped to resemble a toilet.
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