Most people don’t like to reflect too much on what they do in the bathroom. But if you think about it, the traditional toilet paper system doesn’t make a lot of sense. You’re dealing with sensitive areas, so you want a clean and gentle experience. That’s where a bidet comes in. Is a bidet hygienic? Are bidets more sanitary than wiping with toilet paper? We’re here to answer these questions.
Are bidets sanitary?
The answer is yes. But when asking the question “is a bidet sanitary?,” it’s important to specify the type. Bidet toilet seats and bidet attachments are both hygienic options in different ways.
(“Are bidets clean?” becomes a different question when you have one yourself. Some simple maintenance leads to a clean bidet. [link to bidet cleaning post])
Are bidet attachments sanitary?
Bidet attachments, like the Element and Element+, connect to your existing toilet seat and spray clean water from your sink’s water source. It’s the same water that comes out of your shower or your faucet. The water sprays off any residue and goes straight down into the toilet.
Washing the area with water gets it much cleaner than just using toilet paper. As rectal surgeon Dr. Evan Goldstein explained to Insider, wiping with toilet paper alone smears fecal matter around the skin. Yikes! "Charmin and all these brands have done a great job making us think that toilet paper is hygienic,” said Dr. Goldstein. “It's not.” Instead, Dr. Goldstein advocates the cleaning power of a bidet to actually wash it away with water. This sentiment was echoed by Dr. Phillip J. Buffington of the Urology Group in Cincinnati in an interview with Self. "Think about using dry toilet paper,” he said. “You're leaving a residue of stool and bacteria, whereas if you're using a bidet, you’re washing that away.”
Other experts agree. Rose George, author of The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters, told Vice that the attachment to toilet paper is “baffling.” She explained, “We wash every part of our body except the dirtiest part.” She compares a bidet to a shower: “You wouldn't shower with a dry towel; why do you think that dry toilet paper cleans you?”
Are bidet toilet seats sanitary?
Like bidet attachments, bidet toilet seats wash your bottom with a spray of clean water, and many bidet toilet seats have a front-washing feature for vaginal health. Dr. John Cluley, a gastroenterologist, listed a number of health problems that can be alleviated by switching to a bidet in an interview with Shape. "Hemorrhoids are a big one, and these occur in people of all ages,” he said. "Anal fissures can develop, and toilet paper is not beneficial for that. Pruritus ani is essentially itchy butt, and that can come from poor hygiene. And women are prone to getting a UTI if that area is not properly cleaned. If you're a healthy person in general and you have poor butt health, any of those conditions can develop out of nothing."
Depending on the type of bidet toilet seat you use, you might not need any toilet paper at all. Some bidet toilet seats, like the Omigo Luxury Bidet Seat, have a built-in drying feature. That means that you never need to reach your hands down at all! Dr. Cluley advocates self-drying bidets because they “get rid of the rubbing and spreading, and get you as clean as you should be.”
The bottom line
Are bidets sanitary? The answer is yes. For the most hygeinic experience, wash with a bidet, then use its drying feature or a small amount of toilet paper to pat the area dry. That way you’re not smearing anything around, and your skin will be less irritated by the dry paper. A clean butt is a healthy butt, and healthy butt is a happy butt!Written by Allison Driskill