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When using a bidet, many questions arise. Most of these questions (and concerns) revolve around the hygienic aspects of a bidet. One of the most common questions is about the use of soaps and other hygienic cleansers with the bidet.
Do you need to use soap with a bidet? The short answer is no, with most bidets soap is not necessary. Not only are most soaps not recommended for cleaning genitalia, but a warm water spray is also more sanitary than the alternative of toilet paper. If you are going to use soap, make sure it is a non-irritating type of soap.
Although the average bidet and user does not need to use soap, there are some types of bidets where this is expected or included, as well as other considerations to be taken. Bidet use changes depending on the model, type, and location of the bidet. The pros and cons of bidet use tend to lead users to try them out, at least once. With soap as a consideration (or not), the user may wonder if the bidet is right for him or her. We will explore bidet use with or without soap below.
Why Not Use Soap With a Bidet? How Sanitary Can That Be?
A popular recommendation by doctors is to not use soap on genitalia. Soap can lead to dry or irritated skin. Dry skin around the anus is a leading cause of hemorrhoids, micro-abrasions, and even fissures. Soap, especially anything that is used for hands and face, will be less than forgiving on your genitalia.
Warm water is perfectly fine, and recommended, for cleaning yourself in sensitive areas. Many new bidets include water heaters, so you can have a comfortable temperature that is also better at sanitization. Besides this, the alternative is to wipe with dry paper. Wiping, while effective enough, does not get rid of germs and is far from 100% effective at cleansing the area.
Some bidet first-time users might question the sanitation of this toileting experience. However, would you use soap when using a traditional toilet? More than likely, you would not. Therefore, you can think of the rinse experience with a bidet as an additional stand-alone cleaning measure which does more than toilet paper would do otherwise. Soap is not required and is not typically recommended when using a traditional bidet.
Finally, just like use with traditional toileting experiences, it is recommended to wash your hands with soap and water after the use of a bidet. While this hands-free waste disposal option will limit the spread of germs, washing your hands is recommended as you will have pulled up your underwear/pants, entered a restroom, and otherwise have exposed your hands to unsanitary experiences. Thus, to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria, be sure to wash your hands with warm water and soap in the sink (which is obviously separate from the bidet).
Bidets That Do Use Soap
There are some bidets, usually older models, that fill up the basin for you to clean off with rather than spraying directly on your genitalia. These faucets resemble sinks and are not for you to spray yourself with. These bidets are usually equipped with a bar of soap next to them which makes it easier to clean yourself off with your hands and the water in the basin.
The cloth towel next to these (older, less advanced) bidets is for your hands – not for wiping your behind with. If there are cloth towels for wiping with, they will usually be white and in a stack folded next to the bidet. These will also have a metal bin for you to put them in after use, so they can be bleached together. It is important to read any signage that is available next to a public bidet so as to follow the correct procedures that are expected of you.
This (older, less advanced) type of bidet experience more closely resembles what most people would do in a bath, not a regular toileting experience. If you were to wash your genitals with soap and water every time you used the restroom, you would increase the risk of stripping your genitals of the helpful bacteria which keeps the area healthy (especially for women). Further, you could cause irritation and other complications as previously mentioned.
Do I Wipe Before I use the Bidet?
This question depends on the model of the bidet you are using. If the bidet is attached to the toilet, you will simply “do your business” in the same device as you will then be sprayed and cleaned. There is no need to “prep” anything prior to bidet use. In these devices, there are sanitary measures (angle of the nozzle, self-cleaning bidets, etc.) which have been built in to prevent further contamination or spread of bacteria from user to user.
However, if you are using a bidet that is separate from the toilet, it is crucial to properly dispose of your waste in the toilet, including wiping with toilet paper if desired. Most people, when using a bidet that is separate from the toilet, will use the toilet and wipe, then use the detached bidet to “clean off” and add an additional layer of hygiene and comfort to the standard waste disposal experience.
It never hurts to take precautions when using public facilities, but it is also understandable to use the same precautions in your own home. When using a bidet in your own home, you will have more control of your experience and will more easily know if you need to wipe before (or after) using a bidet.
How Do I Sit on a Bidet?
How to sit on a bidet depends on the style of the bidet and the user’s preference. If the bidet is attached to the toilet (and you will urinate and defecate in this device), you will likely want to sit facing forward. More likely than not, the buttons associated with this style of device will be accessible in this position (as well as any towels or washcloths for drying off afterward). By sitting facing forward, you will need to be sure your genitals are positioned in line with the stream of water so as to experience the cleansing function which is the purpose of the bidet.
If you are using a bidet that is separate from the toilet, you can sit either way. Many people enjoy facing the faucet/spray nozzle on these styles of bidets (which is the opposite way you would likely sit on the traditional toilet). In this position, you can more easily adjust the spray nozzle/faucet to the angle of comfort and ease. This will help you to most efficiently and effectively clean your genitalia while maintaining a comfortable position. Additionally, this position will help you to keep your pants and underwear dry while using the bidet.
Why Do Americans Not Use Bidets as Frequently?
The avoidance of a bidet comes with unfamiliarity which is the leading reason many Americans do not use bidets. The bidet experience, for those who are more familiar with it, can seem quite natural, comfortable, and easy. However, for those who are unfamiliar, it can seem a little more daunting, strange, and even impractical. Consider someone who has never experienced a spray to the anus or urethra- it can feel quite strange to have something project to this area without the user’s intention or previous knowledge that it was going to occur.
For many Americans, bidet use simply is not common, thus it is not a familiar experience. This plays on itself in a “catch 22” sort of effect- the unfamiliarity leads to lack of use, and lack of use leads back to unfamiliarity. Many Americans, upon first-time use of a bidet, tend to enjoy the experience finding it to be comfortable, hygienic, and easier than expected. Perhaps, if bidets were more historically popular, or more frequently found in public locations as they are in other parts of the world, those who are unfamiliar with bidet use would be more prone to test out the more advanced toileting experience.