We spent six weeks and made hundreds of trips to the bathroom to test bidet toilet seats—easy-to-install devices that wash your bottom with warm water—and we took more than 20 hours to interview experts, scour the scientific literature, and survey bidet owners. Out of the dozens of models we looked at, the Toto Washlet C200 stands out as the best for most people. We’re confident that owning one is a luxury that will make your life consistently more pleasant, though a bidet likely won’t improve your health or save the environment.
Toto’s Washlet C200 offers all the features you could want on a bidet toilet seat—warm water, a heated seat, an oscillating water stream—without crowding in a ton of costly and confusing-to-navigate extras. Of all the seats we tested, the C200 has the most settings for water pressure and temperature, allowing you to customize the stream to your preferences. The C200 has the best control panel design, too; it features a simple layout and affixes to your bathroom wall, giving the place a subtle futuristic look. And when you sit down on the toilet, the C200 mists the toilet bowl with water, so a flush is less likely to leave anything behind.
If you want to save about $60 and don’t mind a slightly less sleek display, go with the Toto Washlet C100. (We didn’t test it, but it’s similar enough to our top pick that we’re confident recommending it.) The main difference is that this model has a white plastic side control panel attached to the seat, as opposed to the C200’s gray remote, which attaches to the wall. This seat also has two fewer options for water temperature, and no programmable user settings.
If you’re on a budget but still seeking a good washlet seat, go with the Brondell Swash 300 (we tested a version of this bidet with more features). It’s bare-bones (well, for a luxury item, anyway), but at less than $300 at this writing, it’s a good deal. With six options for water pressure, water temperature, and seat temperature, you’ll be able to adjust this bidet to your preferences. But those are the only options—it lacks other frills, and it takes a few seconds to warm the water. The Swash 300 does have a remote, an unusually nice feature for a bidet at this price. (We don’t think using the front-wash function is worthwhile, though.)
Like most Americans, I’ve been using toilet paper my whole life. But sometime in February, ads for an appliance called a Tushy—a sleek device that perches on the side of your toilet and shoots water at your bottom—kept popping up on my Facebook. The ads seemed to follow me. For several months, I had been turning over in the back of my head a New York Times piece that argued bidets are the “luxury you won’t want to live without.” I’m ever curious about fancy, shiny stuff, but I had been doing just fine without a bidet. What problem would this (very expensive!) thing solve?
To answer that question, I spent dozens of hours completing research and interviews, as well as six weeks testing bidets on my own toilet along with my three roommates. I had Dr. John Swartzberg, editor of the Berkeley Wellness Letter and a University of California, Berkeley, clinical professor emeritus, walk me through the current scientific literature on bidets. I spoke to Steven Welty, an air-quality consultant, about what can and can’t stop fecal matter from making its way out of the toilet. I interviewed Kyle Bazylo, a bidet salesperson, about the most popular features. I paid a visit to Manhattan’s Upper East Side to try the fanciest toilet I have ever seen, let alone sat on, in my life. And I surveyed 200 Wirecutter and Sweethome readers on their attitudes toward bidets, and spoke to nearly a dozen bidet owners, most of whom can’t imagine living without one.
A couple of quick notes, while we’re at the beginning: It’s pronounced “bih-day,” and yes, I am technically talking about bidet attachments, which you add onto a regular toilet, not the stand-alone plumbing fixtures.
After all the research I’ve done, I’ve learned the biggest reason for most people to get a bidet is that you might really, really like having one.
“How has my booty survived this long without it???” is the title of an Amazon review for a bidet called the BootySaver, and it’s fairly representative of the sentiments of those who have purchased a bidet and then written about it. According to the people who are passionate about bidets, everyone could use one.
Yes, they are expensive. Even a bare-bones attachment will run you about $50, and the models we tested for this guide are many times that. (We decided to go the luxury route for this guide, but for a bidet to achieve its fundamental purpose, you don’t need more than the most basic attachment.) But if you have it in your budget to make a few upgrades to your apartment or home, a bidet is a bargain next to many other things you could choose. And you can easily install a seat by yourself to almost any toilet without having to call a plumber, usually. An attachment will last for years, too, and you can take it with you when you move. If you are renting your home, it’s an especially easy way to make a basic toilet feel and look nice.
My mother wasn’t so jazzed about my adventure. She asked me what I was working on when we were out to dinner one night. I told her the premise of this guide. She sighed and put her forehead on the table. When I told my boyfriend about it, he was sort of bemused.
Our world abounds with cleaning devices that keep you as removed from the reality of your toilet as possible, with sprays to make everything smell like artificial flowers and all manner of bathroom products that are anti-ick. We have extra-soft multi-ply toilet paper, wet wipes, and, to make sure our bottoms never come in contact with a public toilet, disposable seat covers. We wash our hands with so much antibacterial soap, it’s hurting the fish. And yet, in the United States, most of us put our hands within millimeters of our own waste every single day. Wipe is even too kind of a word—sometimes it’s more like a smear. Why don’t we just wash up with water?
Much of the world does. If you think bidets are strange or silly, consider the point of view of many, many other people on the planet.
Seemo, a Sweethome reader I conversed with via email, grew up in Kuwait, where middle-class families like his had traditional French-style bidets in their homes, and most public bathrooms featured toilets with sprayer attachments. When Seemo was a teenager, he moved to North America, where bidets are virtually nowhere to be found. “Like worrying about bathroom situations is never a fun thing right, and for the first time in my life it was like… ok what do I do now?” he wrote. “No one had given me the heads up that bidets are not a thing here.”
He’s now a recent college grad living in Montreal, where he has an attachment for his toilet in his apartment. When he isn’t at home and can’t use it, he says he feels “awful and disgusting”—a sentiment that many bidet owners expressed to me.
In North America, some people have the audacity to mock bidets. But such laughter may be a thin veneer for curiosity layered over, perhaps, jealousy. Take this BuzzFeed video of people trying them for the first time. Though some of them note that the experience is positive, most of them act shocked, in an exaggerated and theatrical fashion (which maybe has something to do with the fact that they’re having their butt squirted with water while a camera is stuck in their face, which seems awkward). But the video has nearly 5.5 million views. The description for the video reads, “It’s like a massage for your anus.” Sounds like something everyone should try at least once.
I asked my roommates Theresa and Olivia (via email and text, because that’s how I handle any slightly awkward conversation) if they would be okay with having a rotation of bidets on our toilet for several weeks . Subject line: “toilet q.” I promised that if they didn’t want to use it, they were free to just let it sit there. Theresa replied: “This is ridiculous. Haha. But yes,
absolutely.” (She later noted that she found the idea of the appliance itself funny, but that while in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, she had become used to the custom of taking a large water bottle into outhouses to rinse off with.) Olivia’s mom owns a bidet, and told her that she was excited we were going to be using them.
That seemed weird, but I quickly got accustomed to people expressing out-and-out enthusiasm. Wirecutter writer Amadou Diallo is among the converted. He used a bidet for the first time in 2001 on a trip to Japan, and was sold on the concept right away: “I was like, oh my God, this is the mark of advanced civilization.” He returned home and purchased an attachment for his own toilet. Now, he told me, it’s “the thing I look forward to most coming back [from traveling]. We could be staying in a five-star hotel, and I still miss it.” When he moved a few years ago, he brought his toilet seat with him to his new place.
In the decade and a half since Amadou bought his first bidet attachment—he’s had the same one for that many years, and has purchased a second for the other toilet in his place—they’ve become more and more popular. Plumbing manufacturer Toto has sold 40 million bidet attachments, dubbed “washlets,” since launching its first model in 1980. About 10 million of those were purchased in the past five years. New brands, such as Bio Bidet and Tushy, have popped up, and so have new websites to distribute them, like Bidets.org, to cash in on the trend.
I have a theory for why these things took a while to catch on in the States. While bidets aren’t as inherently icky as toilet paper—I say this as the converted—simply making the switch involves thinking about the ins and outs of sitting on the toilet.
I hated thinking about this stuff as much as the next person. Toilet humor, for example, asks that I derive pleasure from something that I find inherently gross. I told my boyfriend this when we first were dating. Many months later, by the end of bidet testing, I was wandering out of his bathroom casually complaining about how strange it was to have to wipe my butt (still to his surprise). I daresay I’ve also become more okay with making fart jokes.
As more and more companies pop up, people are getting used to hearing the sales pitch without dismissing it as gross. The tagline for Tushy is “Treat your butt like your face.” Kyle Bazylo, the owner of Bidet.org, says one of the top searches that bring people to his site—which is as replete with FAQ pages and fact sheets as it is items for sale—is “how to use a bidet.”
As for why you’d use a bidet, the most repeated logic that I heard while researching this piece goes more or less like this: If you got mud on your hand, you wouldn’t wipe it off with a paper towel, would you? Of course not, you’re not a slob. But after speaking to a doctor, I confirmed that wiping isn’t actually unhygienic or unhealthy in the same way that dry-wiping your hands is (people don’t eat with their butts), so feel free to not be shamed by a rhetorical question. America does not have some national health problem wherein our buttholes are too dirty.
Manufacturers tout health concerns as a big reason to use bidets. But when I dug into the research with the help of Dr. John Swartzberg, I found that there’s not a lot of hard evidence to support the claims. No data suggests that they prevent urinary-tract infections, and researchers have seen no medical reason to wash the inside of the vagina (as the feminine-wash feature on bidets allows). One study suggests they can reduce pressure in the rectum—and thereby, perhaps, help alleviate hemorrhoids and anal fissures. If you have anal itchiness, and cannot find an underlying cause in need of treatment, using a bidet will help you avoid toilet paper—a plus, if you find that rubbing the area makes the situation worse. If you plan to use a bidet for any health reason whatsoever, check in with your doctor for help in monitoring your condition.
So, a bidet might not be crucial for your health, but what about the environment? Although a bidet doesn’t require as much toilet paper—you’ll still likely want to use a couple of squares to wipe off—it’s kind of, well, a wash.
A bidet will definitely save you from having to stock up on toilet paper as frequently. This is an aspect I really like: My bathroom is tiny, and shared regularly by four people plus assorted friends and significant others. Being able to keep just a roll or two in the bathroom at a time and not worrying about restocking as often has been a huge plus.
While it’s true that people in the US use nearly 40 billion rolls a year, toilet paper breaks down pretty easily, so it isn’t a menace to the environment after you use it. Bidets themselves use water (though not enough to make your utility bills jump) and electricity, not to mention that they take resources to manufacture and ship. I suspect you do save the environment some grief by cutting down a little on paper products, though the evidence doesn’t seem convincing enough to pat yourself on the back just because you own one of these devices.
One thing is certain: Bidets are better than wet wipes, which can clog sewers. Yes, even the “flushable” variety.
To learn more about the limited medical research on bidets, read my companion piece: Are Bidets Better for You Than Toilet Paper?
For my first experience with a bidet, I took the 4 train from Brooklyn, New York, 45 minutes uptown to a Toto showroom on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I entered the store and nervousIy asked where the bidets were. I quickly explained to a salesperson named Joel that I wasn’t buying, I just had a ton of questions and a reporter’s notebook.
Joel explained the features of the Toto washlet to me and then escorted me to a model bathroom to meet the company’s futuristic centerpiece: the Neorest 550, an entirely hands-free toilet. From lid lift to rinse-off to flush, it’s all remote controlled, Joel explained—hardly any contact necessary.
The toilet lid lifted as we approached. Joel picked up a square remote and started pushing buttons. The seat moved up and down on command (great “especially with gentlemen in the family”). He remotely activated the turbo flush. Joel explained that the Neorest sprays with sanitized electrolyte water, the kind that’s used to spray vegetables at the grocery store.
“You can’t wash your vegetables in the toilet, but with that water—”
“You could!” I exclaimed, finishing his sentence.
I asked if there was a bidet model on premises that I could try, and Joel motioned to the Neorest and smiled. “This one.”
He left me alone and closed the door, and I sat on the toilet. I was too excited to notice, but the moment you sit down, fancy bidets like this one “pre-mist” the bowl with a slight whirring noise. The seat was already preheated.
Normally you have a clear order of bathroom operations with bidets or washlets: Sit, release, then press buttons. I was keen to get to the action, so I pressed some buttons first. One button made a small wand come out of the rear of the seat into the bowl—angled downward—which then shot a fountain-like stream of water up at my butt. Still more buttons adjusted the position of the water stream forward and back, and set the temperature warmer or cooler; even more buttons made it go back and forth in an oscillating motion, or spray in bursts. I tried the dryer, and warm air blew from a small fan just under the toilet seat. I stood up, and it flushed automatically. Though I sat there for several minutes exploring the appliance, the whole process of cleaning with a bidet takes only about 30 seconds—maybe longer than using toilet paper, but not by much.
The experience was just as wonderful as I’d heard it could be from bidet fanatics: the warm water, the soft blast of air, the perfectly tiled showroom bathroom. It felt less like a routine bodily function and more like a special occasion. When I emerged from the bathroom, lighter and cleaner, Joel was waiting for me. “I love it!” I told him. He was happy for me.
On my way back to the subway, I texted my boyfriend about what a nice bathroom experience I had just had. Truly a first for our relationship.
Unfortunately, the Neorest 550 starts at $3,500, and since it’s an entire toilet, installation involves hiring a plumber to uproot your current toilet. (And some of that pile of cash no doubt goes indirectly to celebrities like Kris Jenner, who has endorsed an even more expensive version.) So I went home and started working through the vast trove of bidet attachments, searching for something that would match the experience.
You don’t need to go full Neorest to make your bathroom experience special, but we decided that we wanted our pick to at least have features that come standard on electric bidets, namely a heated seat and warm water. We were also interested in bidets with air dryers, though the lack of one wasn’t a dealbreaker. The point of a bidet is to make your bathroom luxurious.
While rifling through dozens of models, we eliminated several of the fancier features. (After trying out the Neorest 550, I suspected—and then during testing of the models with regular toilet water, confirmed—that you cannot, in fact, feel a meaningful difference between electrolyte water and normal toilet water.)
Some models come with an enema-wash function. “This is a horrible idea,” UC Berkeley’s Dr. John Swartzberg told me. “Not only is it unnecessary, but it could cause damage to the anal and rectal area.” Don’t pay extra money for a bidet with an enema-wash function. Many bidets come with this feature anyway. Use at your own risk.
Ultimately we selected five bidets to test. I wanted to know what would most closely reproduce the feeling of luxury that I experienced in the showroom. That meant finding a bidet that would generate a stream of water at a reasonable temperature with enough pressure to get me clean but still gentle enough to be comfortable. It had to be adjustable, too—many people, each with different preferences, should be able to use the same bidet and have a good experience. I also wanted to find something with a remote that wouldn’t be confusing; guests should be able to use your bathroom without needing a tutorial. And I wanted to know which features (such as oscillating streams, wide sprays, and air dryers) were just frills, and which ones I would actually want to use everyday.
One of the most surprising things about bidets is just how many features they have. After speaking to experts and doing extensive testing, I found that the most relevant and useful ones are those pertaining directly to the main task of washing your bottom. (There’s more—so much more—but we’ll get to it.)
We loved seeing well-designed control panels and remotes, fine-grained temperature and pressure controls, variable stream options, and self-cleaning nozzles. We had mixed feelings about dryers, pre-mist functions that spray the bowl before you go, and feminine-wash functions (though that last item comes standard on electronic bidets). Stuff we don’t think you need: a UV light, a deodorizer, or an enema option (though many bidets are strong enough to act like one).
The most critical part of a bidet is that the water feels nice hitting your bottom. What qualifies as a nice-feeling stream is very personal, of course, so at minimum a good bidet should have a lot of options to customize pressure and temperature over a wide range. In testing, I found that it was difficult for a stream to be too soft for my taste, and that even the lowest-pressure stream on all the bidet seats I tested did a good job of cleaning me in a timely manner. Position controls are standard on most electronic bidets and are helpful in moving the perfected water stream exactly where it needs to go.
It’s important that the water gets warm but not too hot. I had read an anecdote about a burn allegedly caused by a bidet, so I measured the temperature of the water on the highest setting; the highest temperature registered at just over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, so, perfectly safe. Some bidets don’t get hot enough, however, and still others take several seconds to heat up completely. It can be hard to determine those qualities from the product description—your best bet is to do a careful read of reviews. I would avoid “tankless” bidets; unlike most of the bidets I tested, such models do not keep heated water on reserve, so the stream will take several seconds to begin at all.
Many bidets offer additional options to vary the flow of water, into a wide stream, a pulsating stream (also called a “massage” on some bidets), or an oscillating stream. I liked all of these. Roommate Theresa wasn’t a fan of the wide stream (a rarer feature), noting that it felt “untargeted.” Luckily, such options are easy to ignore if you dislike them, and since they are either on or off, they don’t take up a lot of space on a remote. They’re a bonus on any bidet.
One of the best features on an electronic bidet is the heated seat—I heard that time and again during my research. “Heated seat FTW, washing your rear is bonus,” said one respondent to my survey. It’s one of my favorite features—though, luckily, since we were testing in the summer, every bidet we tried lets you adjust it to produce no heat at all. As the weather got hotter and hotter, I kept the feature mostly turned off. (The seat and water can stay perpetually heated, or, in bidets with an eco mode, they can stay at a lower temp and heat up when the seat senses someone has sat down.)
An organized control panel is important, since it’s very easy for a manufacturer to overcrowd a bidet control panel with too many options that you’ll never use. The control panel can come in two forms: a remote control, or a side panel that hangs off the seat. Both do the job, but the remote setup looks nicer. Some models come with small screens instead of buttons, and complaints on Amazon suggest they can be hard to read. I found such controls harder to navigate than simple buttons at first, but easy to get used to.
One remote-crowding feature is the “auto” cycle, which a few of our tested bidets had. At the push of a button, they go through a routine of a stream of water, a massage function, and then air drying (more on that in a minute). The whole thing generally lasts two minutes, much longer than the water-then-wipe process reasonably takes. My roommates observed that no one really has time to sit on the toilet for the length that the auto cycle requires.
When some bidets are done spraying your butt with water, they’ll then blow-dry it, too. In The New York Times, tech columnist Farhad Manjoo describes the feel of the air-dry feature following being sprayed as “sort of like being pushed through a carwash.” I agree, and in the glow of the Toto showroom, I liked the feature. But when I got home, I found that it wasn’t practical; I’d need to sit there for several minutes to get fully dry. The airflow on the bidets I tested never went above 15 miles per hour, even at maximum speed.
We had mixed feelings about the feminine-wash function, which every tested seat had. If you have a vagina, this function seems designed to squirt water into it. As UC Berkeley’s Dr. John Swartzberg noted to me, it’s not necessary to wash your vagina, and doing so regularly is potentially damaging. I didn’t use the function, but my roommates did, to freshen up after a long day. The function seemed to be hard to use to clean the wider, external area, as that doesn’t really seem to be the intention of the feature. “I end up wiggling around a lot,” reported Theresa.
Air deodorizers are kind of a toss-up, too. My roommates reported not really noticing the benefits of the air deodorizer, but on some models the function was loud and annoying. Such features work by fanning gases through a carbon filter, which needs changing every several months. Both Swartzberg, my medical-doctor source, and air-quality expert Steven Welty noted that their purpose is purely cosmetic. The deodorizers get rid of only the airborne compounds that cause odor, not the bacteria themselves.
Some bidets will pre-mist the toilet before you go, making it harder for fecal matter to stick to the bowl’s sides. In our tests it was hard to tell whether this function worked; it seems like it should, logically, though in a test where we smeared potting soil on the side of the bowl, it didn’t seem to make a difference. I have noticed that simply using a bidet in the first place reduces skid marks, because, I think, it’s easier for poop-plus-toilet-paper to smear against the side of the bowl.
Some models attempt to go even further with the cleanliness, with a UV light that kills germs. These features probably will not have an effect on your bathroom, and certainly not on the quality of your life. They can make spaces cleaner, Welty told me—they work by damaging the germs’ DNA with a light that shines on the wand or into the entire bowl. But toilets, even fancy ones, aren’t designed in a way that keeps germs sealed in and exposed to the fatal light.
“When you close that seat, that gap [between the seat and bowl] is like the Grand Canyon to a microscopic germ,” said Welty, especially when they are propelled out of the bowl by the force of a flushing vortex of water. Germs that become airborne after you poop form what’s known as the “fecal cloud.” No amount of money spent on a bidet attachment will eliminate the fecal cloud—even this $10,200 version of the Toto Neorest has a seat-bowl gap. You have no practical way to get rid of the cloud—and in fact, using an air dryer will exacerbate it—but that’s okay. You’ve been living in it your whole life.
We found one bidet feature that you definitely don’t need: an enema function. Every bidet that I tried had either an enema function or a pressure setting that was forceful enough to act like one. Some sources I spoke with said that they used a stream strong enough to spray water into the body, because they felt it helped get extra fecal matter out, but the doctor I talked to said that this isn’t ever good for you.
The bidet that did the best job of making my home bathroom experience on a par with visiting a fancy showroom was the Toto Washlet C200. It felt notably more luxurious than similarly priced competitors, and it offered the all the options for customizing the water stream that I wanted—including a couple of technically unnecessary features that nonetheless felt nice—without many extras that I would never use crowding the remote. Plus, it looked the nicest of all the bidets I tested, not a small point for a product that you’re paying several hundred dollars for. (Note that the round model is available via a different link.)
The C200 features a stream of water that’s as gentle—or strong, if you prefer—as that of more expensive options, and it’s just as effective as every other bidet I tested. (Overall effectiveness did not vary from bidet to bidet, though some were far more pleasant to use than others.) The remote has a sleek gray finish and buttons that are well-organized.
Among the five bidets I tested, the Washlet C200’s water stream tied for my favorite. It offers the maximum number of options for customization: A total of 10 pressure settings means that no matter how strong or gentle a stream you prefer, the C200 will deliver.
On top of that, you get options for a pulsating or oscillating stream (you can even do both at once), which further varies the feel of the water and makes it less intense than a direct stream. Though I didn’t notice a difference in how much fecal matter remained after using bidets that had the oscillating function versus ones that did not, I felt cleaner.
The water gets up to a comfortable 97 degrees on the highest setting. You have five options for water temperature and six for seat temperature—more than on some of the pricier bidets. The water stream starts up five and a half seconds after you press the button; that isn’t a negligible wait, but it’s a third of the time the Brondell Swash 300 takes.
Of the bidets I tested, the C200 had the best remote. A remote you can mount on the wall is generally less awkward to access than buttons on a panel affixed to the seat itself. The gray finish looks nicer than the white plastic that some of the competing controls sport, with symbol-labeled buttons on the outward-facing side and an LED screen on the back with more settings that don’t need changing every time you sit down, such as seat temperature. If you prefer a different temperature and pressure than someone else in the house, you can each save your preferences and press “User 1” or “User 2” when you sit down on the toilet (the control panel offers only two programmable profiles). My roommates and I are all fairly picky people, and we were all fine using the same basic settings; we didn’t need to mess with them on a regular basis.
The C200 also has a pre-mist function, which sprays a bit of water on the inside of the bowl and, in theory, reduces debris sticking to the side. I didn’t notice much of a difference in day-to-day use, or when trying to test this feature specifically with some artfully scattered potting soil.
Like most of the bidet attachments I tested, the C200 has default energy-saving features: If the toilet isn’t being used frequently, it lowers the seat temperature. If the toilet is not being used at all for an extended period of time, it shuts off the seat heat and the warm water.
Once the initial sheen of using a bidet wore off, there wasn’t much about the fanciest bidet I tried—the Neorest 550, on my visit to the Toto showroom—that I missed when using the C200.
When I first put the Toto Washlet C200 on my toilet and sat down, it sounded as if it were preparing for takeoff. The culprit was the deodorizer, and it was loud. Normally I had to prompt my roommates to give me notes on a new bidet, but they were proactive about their opinions here: hard dislike. Luckily, the deodorizer was easy to turn off. I didn’t detect a big benefit to having the deodorizer on for any of the bidets that I tested with that feature, and I won’t hesitate to tell you that you’ll be fine without it.
That some of the buttons are on the back of the C200’s remote can get a little annoying—it’s the only remote that I had to remove from the wall sometimes. But the clean, uncrowded design that comes with the maximized use of space is enough of a bonus to make this annoyance worth putting up with.
I found this washlet slightly harder to install than the other models. The adapter that siphons water to the bidet attaches to the piping next to the toilet tank, rather than to the wall. I found accessing that spot with tools to be more difficult, because of the way my toilet is positioned close to my bathroom wall. Still, it wasn’t that much harder to navigate—and with any bidet you buy, you should make sure you have enough room to maneuver a wrench.
The air dryer isn’t strong enough that you can forgo toilet paper, unless you are very patient. Still, the speed is comparable to that of dryers on more-expensive bidets. While I wouldn’t bother with this dryer, I also couldn’t find a better one.
The electric cord is also a little annoying to look at, but that was an issue with every bidet I tested at home. The only outlet in my bathroom is above the sink, so the cord extends awkwardly from the toilet across the wall. You can find a variety of relatively inexpensive options for concealing and streamlining cables (the kind you’d use in an office) that could be put to use here.
If you want to save a few bucks or if our top pick is sold out, we recommend going with the slightly pared-down version of the C200, the Toto Washlet C100. It has just as many water-pressure settings, as well as an option for an oscillating water stream (but no pulsing) and a pre-mist function to keep matter from sticking to the bowl. Although it offers only three temperature settings for the water, the stream can get just as warm on this model as with the C200.
The biggest difference is that this washlet lacks a remote. If you’re going to spend money on a luxury item for your bathroom, I’d say spending a little more to get a remote is worthwhile: A remote looks a lot sleeker and just plain fancier than an attached control panel. I think the C100’s side panel looks funny—it’s white plastic—and on other models I tested, side panels were a little more awkward to use than a remote. But if you want to save some money, or if you like the look of the side panel more, get the C100 version of Toto’s washlet.
If you want to outfit your bathroom with an electric bidet for as little money as possible, go with the Brondell Swash 300. This model is bare-bones (or, as bare-bones as a luxury product can be): It has a heated seat, six options each for water pressure and temperature, and both rear and feminine wash. Unlike the pricier version of the Brondell, according to a spokesperson for the company, on this model the water stream will begin quickly but might take a moment to warm up. On the positive side, the Swash 300 has a remote that affixes to the wall, a feature typically reserved for more expensive bidets.
We think our main pick is worth the extra investment, but if that isn’t in your budget, or you want to pay less for an attachment for a guest bathroom, this model will do. Amazon reviews are positive, with an overall score of 4.4 stars (out of five) at the time we checked. “Ahhhhh! What an awesome invention! Stay fresh all the time!” says the title of one review. Others praise this pared-down model specifically: “During a master bath renovation, we purchased the more advanced model but discovered we weren’t using the extra features so we got this version for a second bathroom,” writes reviewer J. Nugent. “This one really is the perfect bidet seat.” Another reviewer writes that they have both the Swash 300 and a higher-end Brondell model, and that the Swash 300 “in particular is a great deal for the price.”
If you have a regular toilet with a tank, and are able to shut off the water, installation should be fairly straightforward. (More on what to do if you have a tankless toilet at the bottom of this section.) To install your bidet, you need an adjustable wrench and a Phillips-head screwdriver, as well as a plastic cup or Tupperware-style container and a towel to catch any leaking water. After you shut the water off—and flush the toilet a couple of times—you need to take out the pipe that connects the toilet tank to the wall. The instructions will walk you through adding a splitter and two new pieces of piping: one to the tank, and one that connects to the bidet.
Next you need to remove your existing toilet seat and add a mounting bracket that the new one slides onto. Some instructions advise you to tackle attaching the mounting bracket and toilet seat first, but I found that starting with the piping worked best: That’s the trickiest part, and if any problems arise, such as difficulty turning off the water or having enough room to work with the tools, it will be quicker to backtrack and problem-solve—and still have a working toilet— if you haven’t taken off the seat yet. Also, a bidet seat is bulkier than the average toilet seat; if you are working in a small space, as I was, you’ll have an easier time accessing the pipes with the smaller seat, or no seat, on the toilet.
Before you plug the bidet in, make sure the prongs on the electrical cord are dry, and that your hands are, too.
Next, turn the water back on. At this stage, you should put your cup or container beneath the piping and maybe lay down a towel. I found that there was almost always something I hadn’t quite screwed on tightly enough, or that I had made a mistake and attached something backward, causing some leaking. If that happens to you, just turn the water off again and assess.
Finally, remove the tape that covers the nozzle and test it. You’ll have to either sit on the seat or otherwise put pressure on it so that the seat thinks a bottom is there.
I was nervous about the whole installation process. I’m not a terribly handy person. I get anxious if instructions aren’t immediately easy to understand. Plus, this wasn’t the kind of task that I could put down and finish later—we needed to have a working toilet! But by following videos from the manufacturers, and keeping a beer at hand, I was able to complete my first installation within 20 minutes and with no snafus. In my case, the videos from the manufacturers proved to be much more helpful than the written instructions. (Just be prepared to rewind the video a few times.)
If you do want professional installation help, it will run you a hundred dollars or so.
If you have a “tankless” toilet, you should enlist the assistance of a plumber—I recommend consulting with one before you purchase a bidet. The kind of “tankless” toilet that is most often found in homes is the wall-hung toilet: This means a tank is present, it’s just concealed in the wall. You’ll have to hire a plumber to install an extra connection to provide water to the bidet. If your toilet uses a flushometer, the plumber will have to make more-dramatic changes to the plumbing system; these are only rarely found in homes.
Like toilets, bidets come in two shapes. “Elongated,” or egg-shaped, toilet seats are more common these days, but if your toilet is on the small side, it might be round. If you’re not sure which kind you have, you’ll probably get it right just by eyeballing.
If you have an elongated toilet, picking a bidet size is a no-brainer: Go with the elongated one.
Unless you are feeling a little adventurous, I suggest selecting the appropriate bidet size for your toilet. I did most of my testing with elongated bidets installed on my round toilet, and overall my roommates and I liked the elongated size better. The longer seats still fit on round toilets, and they make such toilets feel larger. They hang over the front a bit, but having the feel of a bigger toilet made up for the cosmetic issue. However, there’s a big caveat: The holes on the base of most elongated bidets—which you’re supposed to use to attach the seat to the toilet with big plastic screws—are too far apart to match up with the holes on the back of a round toilet. I found that the bidets were secure enough with just one screw during our short-term testing (and could take further securing with adhesive tape). But I could see this being a nuisance for some people, especially during long-term use.
I tested the round version of what ended up being our top pick. I liked the fact that it matched up with the toilet edge—it looked like it fit. But the bidet slopes up slightly at the back to attach to the water tank, which made our small toilet feel even smaller (though I didn’t compare the round models to one another, many bidets slope at least little at the back). The missing seat real estate didn’t bother me all that much, but it did annoy my roommate Theresa. “I feel like I’m on a kiddie toilet,” she said.
Bio Bidet BB-600
The Bio Bidet BB-600 gets the job done just fine. It doesn’t look or feel as nice as our top pick. But if you prefer colorful buttons over a black-and-white or black-and-gray interface—which the BB-600 has on its side-panel display—go with this model.
My main complaint about this bidet is that in our tests the water pressure was higher than our top pick’s, even on its lowest setting. But setting the mode to “aerated” fixed that issue. During the washing process, the water was a bit cooler than our top pick’s, even on the highest temperature setting, but not uncomfortably so. The button that controls water pressure is the same one that controls air-drying strength, which could be annoying if you intend to use the air dryer and also prefer a soft water stream.
Brondell Swash 900
We found two dealbreakers with this bidet: It’s slow and it’s noisy. It took a full 15 seconds between our pushing the button and our feeling the stream of water—a PR rep for the company confirmed this was typical—whereas other models we tested took about 8 seconds. Those extra seconds feel long. To boot, the bidet made a whirring noise during that whole time.
This bidet defaults to beeping a lot, making noise when it detects pressure on the seat as well as to indicate that a function—say, water temperature—is at its highest or lowest setting. “Why does it have to talk to me every time I sit down?” asked my roommate Olivia. Luckily, you can turn that option off.
The Swash 900 did have one feature that I wish every bidet had: a wide spray. I liked this option, as the wide spray felt softer than the more concentrated streams of water from the other models I tested. Theresa didn’t like the feel of the wide stream (she noted that it felt inconsistent, illustrating the effect by making a “pffffffft” spitting sound). Fortunately, the remote offers three options for width. The wide spray, however, didn’t seem to make a difference in how clean we felt; the other models were just as good in that regard. So although I liked the wide-spray feature, I wouldn’t overlook this model’s poor speed and irritating sound.
This bidet hurt to use. I found that the water pressure was too high—enough to penetrate—even at the lowest setting. (It felt so strong that we bought peaches to see if we could get a visual of the stream destroying a piece of fruit, but the stream wasn’t powerful enough to do that. Lesson: Assholes are sensitive.)
Other than that, most things about this bidet are fine. The warm water is nice and warm, there isn’t too much of a delay between your hitting the button and feeling the stream of water, and it even has a dryer function—a rare feature for a bidet at a lower price. The dryer even blows warm air. This bidet also comes with a wall-mounted remote, another bonus for a lower-end model, and while the small buttons and LED lights mean it isn’t the prettiest of remotes, it does have a clear and easy-to-use layout, and it doesn’t make any beeping noises.
Even so, I’d consider the water pressure on this one to be a dealbreaker.
Bio Bidet BB-2000
This one was a favorite in my apartment, but its high price buys you many features that you don’t need. Olivia noted that the remote was intuitive to use but filled with more buttons than she would ever need—in addition to pressure and temperature settings, it offers a massage function, an enema function, an auto wash, a kids’ wash, something called a bubble infusion, and a wide spray.
Several settings for pressure and temperature mean that this bidet will suit a variety of personal preferences. An LED screen makes it clear what the current settings are, and adjusting them is easy. In our tests the pressure was always effective, and never too much.
The wide spray is really nice, and I wish all bidets had such a thing. But the remote was so crowded that it took me until I actually looked at the list of features on the bidet to realize the wide option was there.
I really liked the BB-2000’s blue night-light; it was surprisingly pleasant to use the toilet at night and not have to turn on the main light. Since it’s easy to purchase a separate night-light (in my case, a battery-powered one, since outlets in my bathroom are precious), this feature is nice but not a dealmaker.
The BB-2000 is also pretty large. As a result, it was comfortable to sit on, but we also ended up with a little splashing back of water after each use.
This bidet has just one downside: the price. In fact, that’s a dealbreaker. The BB-2000 doesn’t have enough worthwhile extras to be worth about $300 more than our top pick.
Non-electric bidets have lower prices and offer only an adjustable—sometimes warm—stream of water, nothing else. Although we didn’t test such models, I spent some time reading about non-electric bidets and looking at reviews, and I talked to half a dozen Sweethome readers who had had great experiences with them (including one who estimated that he has ordered a total of 10 as gifts and for family members who wanted help making the all-important but perhaps slightly embarrassing purchase).
Based on what I learned from a few hours of research (and again with the big caveat that we did not test these types of models), if I wanted a bidet for less than a hundred bucks, I’d probably go with the Luxe Bidet Neo 320, which is highly rated on Amazon and costs less than $60 at this writing. Definitely pay for the warm-water option!
We also left travel bidets out of our research and testing. Such devices are handheld and offer neither the luxury nor the physical assistance of a standard bidet. If you are absolutely a bidet fanatic and want to try one, you might want to check out the highest-rated one on Amazon, the Toto Travel Washlet.1 But even Bidet.org’s Kyle Bazylo, who sells travel bidets, says he doesn’t bother using one when he travels himself.
(Photos by Michael Hession.)
Originally published: September 7, 2016