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Turns out, bidets are a hot topic

Wow! Last week’s column on bidets generated a lot of feedback. It’sclear that the design team must take into consideration all theconcerns and questions raised by our readers when it comes to bidets!


Wow! Last week’s column on bidets generated a lot of feedback. It’s clear that the design team must take into consideration all the concerns and questions raised by our readers when it comes to bidets!

Some of you made it obvious that you had never heard of a bidet and weren’t quite clear on how to use one. We’re glad to enlighten you — there’s never any shame in learning something new and useful. (See metronews.ca for last week’s column on the benefits of the bidet and how to use it.)

You’re not alone in your confusion on the subject. One plumbing-store manager tells us people are whispering questions to her about bidets: She feels like she should write a book called Everything You Wanted To Know About Bidets But Were Afraid To Ask.

Apparently, one reason North Americans don’t know much about bidets is there’s been a prejudice against them which goes back over half a century. It’s said bidets acquired a bit of a seamy reputation when American soldiers first encountered them in war-time French bordellos.

The bidet is a part of life in Europe, Japan and South America, and you would think North Americans would have put that old prejudice behind them (no pun intended). But still, a general sense of suspicion continues to hover around the bidet for some reason.

We continue to believe the bidet has a lot going for it. It is practical and good-looking — what better combination could you hope for?

But our readers raised some very important clarifications regarding the health benefits of bidet use. One reader pointed out that while bidets can make toileting easier and more hygienic for people with conditions such as hemorrhoids or rashes, independent bidet use can actually be a risk to those who have reduced physical strength or mobility.

She also noted that using a bidet is generally useful only to those who are also able to toilet themselves independently; and that bidets should not be used by people who have cognitive or sensory deficits, since using the temperature controls incorrectly could result in scalding.

Another reader worried that a bidet would not promote water conservation. We could not find studies to confirm this one way or the other. But we found a lot of different opinions worthy of further investigation. While it is true that the bidet uses water (unlike the paper method), some would say that bidet use actually decreases the frequency of showering and bathing, thus conserving water. Other people say the bidet indirectly decreases water usage through the decreased use of toilet paper, which is manufactured by a process that uses huge amounts of water.

In the end, readers will have to make their own call on this very personal issue. For Tammy and I, the bidet continues to be a very practical and stylish way to keep clean for people who can independently use the toilet.

Something we haven’t discussed yet is the “washlet,” an electronic bidet-type seat that you attach on top of the toilet which can wash and blow dry. Butt ... er, but, since there seems to be such interest, we thought we’d save that topic for another day.

Thanks for the feedback.


Tammy Schnurr and Jeffrey Fisher are hosts of Arresting Design on W Network. Tammy is an interior decorator. Jeffrey designs home furnishings and bedding through his company Jeffrey Fisher Home.


 
 
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