Knowing what a Bidet is, is only half the work. Anyone can look up the word and get the definition down.
The real question has to be what types of Bidets are out there and which one is right for you. I will attempt to clarify the most common types by categorizing them and providing some pros and cons for each type.
The most iconic image of a Bidet that comes to mind must be of the type that can be seen above. These Bidets have been around for a really long time. Perhaps twice or three times my lifetime. I'm barely pushing 30. These Bidets were used by royalty and the wealthy at first. Slowly they made their way to the middle class in Europe and parts of Asia. You can find many luxury homes in the States with them present to this day. Unfortunately they are rarely used and are a preferred napping place for cats now. Other uses include beer coolers and water bowls for pets. That's only because they aren't too practical to use for what they were designed for.￼
What you thought I was joking?
Pros: Found to be very beneficial for female hygiene. Traditionally a symbol of luxury and class
Cons: They take a lot of space. Which means larger bathroom spaces are required. Making them inefficient for our present day lifestyles.
The Bidet Seat:
The Bidet seat (Washlet) was undoubtedly invented by TOTO. A large Japanese manufacturer of Toilets that is well known globally. They have been developing and designing them for a few decades now. When it comes to Bidet Seats they are the clear choice. So many bells and whistles that it can be regarded as the Mercedes Benz of Bidets.
Pros: Can heat the water electronically. Usually have features like heated seat and Dryer. The brands with good dryers can eliminate the use of toilet paper completely.
Cons: They require electricity to operate. They can run anywhere between $300 to $7000 USD. Requires an outlet to be placed near the toilet bowl with a Ground wire according to building codes of the area where you live. Too many electrical components means higher chances of something breaking down.
3) The Bidet Attachment:
A Bidet Attachment is inspired by the good design of the Bidet Seat. It is meant to attach to your existing toilet. The installation process is very simple. It will also require your existing toilet seat. While the Bidet Seat comes with it's own seat as part of the unit. An attachment can be a great option for an entry level Bidet user. This is because they can start from $30 all the way up to $100 USD. If you want to see if a Bidet is a right choice for you, you can start here. The more expensive Bidet Attachments are great if you want something that will last you a few years without breaking the bank. There are also some Bidet Attachments that have the seat included. Those too don't require power to operate. These Bidets usually have the bare essentials. A few Wash settings, adjustable pressure and ability to connect to hot water.
Pros: Very economical. Universal fit and not too bulky. Require no power to operate. Can simply hook up to hot water supply if it is accessible and nearby. Such as the water supply to a nearby sink.
Cons: The cheaper models can break easily. Try to find brands that use Certified parts and have great warranty and support. The units without a quick release feature can be hard to clean. Specially underneath the bidet it self. There a Bidet attachments with quick release mechanism that allow for effortless cleaning.
The Handheld Bidet:
This type of Bidet has been used for a long time in many Middle Eastern and Asian countries. Third world countries have used a handheld hose of this nature when culturally adapted to washing. They can be found for cheap. Many such countries have them installed in all homes as a necessity. In the Arab community they are regarded as Shattafs or Shatafas. Many newcomers have tried replicating these set ups in their Western homes. For years they would hack things like kitchen sink sprayers. These caused quite a bit of damage to properties. The sprayers would not be built according to plumbing standards and would frequently cause major leaks and flooding. This gave birth to companies actually designing such products that are specifically built for this purpose. They attach to the toilet supply line using an adapter similar to the other Bidet Attachments and Bidet Seats.
Pros: They can give more flexibility to the angle of the spray. They can be set up easily and inexpensively.
Cons: A lot of cheap quality ones are in the market. The valves usually give out quickly. Make sure you have a back up shut off valve so you could shut off the water supply to the Sprayer after each use. They can look weird to people that are seeing one for the first time. Can become filthy if used in public places.
These are the most common types of Bidets out there. However, you can find a few designs that I consider to be niche. They don't seem to be as popular as these main types. In essence they are a hybrid of any number of the above bidet types.
Regardless of what type of Bidet you end up choosing, you will probably be happy that you made the switch from toilet paper. In my opinion toilet paper should be a supplementary tool in the bathroom. Mostly used to dry off after washing or to clean small messes around the toilet.
Want to see why billions of people on this earth Aim to Wash? Because, it's just the right thing to do and it makes a lot of sense.