A Brief History of Bidets

The bidet, a bathroom fixture known for promoting personal hygiene, has undergone a significant evolution since its conception. From its inception in France to its modern electronic variants, the bidet's journey has been characterized by transformation and adaptation to evolving societal needs.

Origins in 18th Century France

The bidet's history dates back to the early 18th century in France. The word 'bidet' translates to 'little horse' in French, referencing the straddle-style seating position originally adopted while using the fixture. Early bidets were luxury items, typically used by the French nobility. These bidets were essentially basins that were filled manually with water and placed in the bedroom near the chamber pot for intimate washing.

19th Century Developments

As plumbing advanced during the 19th century, bidets moved from the bedroom to the bathroom, becoming more integrated with the water system. During this period, bidets started to be seen as more than a luxury, becoming a symbol of cleanliness and personal hygiene. However, their use remained primarily confined to Europe.

The Mid-20th Century and the Advent of the Bidet Toilet Seat

The mid-20th century marked a significant milestone in the history of bidets. American Arnold Cohen, also known as "Mr. Bidet," is credited with developing the first bidet toilet seat. His design aimed to bring the benefits of the bidet to American bathrooms without requiring additional bathroom space for a standalone fixture.

Despite his efforts, Cohen found little success in the American market due to cultural resistance and modest marketing efforts. However, his design found considerable acceptance in Japan, a market more receptive to bathroom technology and hygiene advancements.

The Japanese Bidet Revolution

The latter part of the 20th century witnessed a major evolution in the world of bidets, primarily driven by advancements in Japan. The Japanese company TOTO launched the Washlet in the 1980s, a revolutionary bidet seat with features such as warm water cleaning, air drying, and heated seating.

The bidet seat became a standard fixture in Japanese homes, contributing to the country's reputation for advanced bathroom technology. The bidet seat's rise in popularity was aided by societal acceptance of its hygiene benefits and space-saving design, especially relevant in densely populated areas with smaller living spaces.

Here at BidetKing, we find bidet seats to be the perfect combination of cleanliness and comfort and have focused our business on building this category.

21st Century and Beyond

The advent of the 21st century saw the global recognition and acceptance of bidets grow exponentially. Today's bidets come equipped with a variety of features such as UV sterilization, automatic flushing, radio frequency wireless remote controls, and odor neutralizing functions.

Bidet models such as the Alpha JX, Bio Bidet BB-2000 Bliss, and TOTO S550e Washlet have paved the way for even more high tech and feature rich bidet seats. Newer models such as the Alpha UX Pearl, Bio Bidet Discovery DLS, and TOTO Washlet C5 have proven to be the new hallmarks in the world of bidet technology and continue to improve upon the role bidets play in one's personal hygiene.

In many parts of the world, bidets or bidet seats are now considered essential bathroom fixtures. Their popularity has been driven not only by an increased emphasis on personal hygiene but also by environmental considerations. Bidets significantly reduce the need for toilet paper, leading to less environmental impact from paper production and waste.

Despite their long history, bidets took a while to gain acceptance in certain parts of the world, including the United States. However, recent years have seen a surge in their popularity, fueled by heightened awareness of hygiene, a desire for comfort, and environmental considerations.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, when hygiene became a global priority, bidets saw a significant uptick in demand. Similarly, concerns about toilet paper shortages led more people to consider bidets as a sustainable alternative.

The history of the bidet is a testament to human innovation and the continuous pursuit of improved hygiene and comfort. From the simple basins of the 18th century to the high-tech, feature-loaded fixtures of today, bidets have not just evolved, but they have revolutionized the way we perceive personal hygiene.