Are bidet sanitary? This is a common question that almost everyone will ask when they are newcomers to the world of the bidet. After all, we want to be careful when purchasing something for our sensitive area.
Simply put, bidets are sanitary if we use them in the right way and clean it regularly. Bidet in a public place is prone to contamination, so you’d better test the spray and clean the nozzle before sitting down.
In this post, I will compare the bidet with toilet paper and discuss if a bidet is sanitary for seniors or women. I am sure you could get every information you need at your fingertip about this important personal hygiene question.
Is a bidet more sanitary than toilet paper?
When wiping with toilet paper, it can’t wipe away all the waste, leaving some waste on your skin and hairs, which could cause infections. On the contrary, the water stream of a bidet, no matter which type of bidet you are using, can effectively wash away all the feces and urine.
As far as toilet paper itself, it may not be as safe as you expect. If the quality of TP is not so good, it would flake and tear, which will leave more residue on your skin or urinate and stool on your hand. This would spread the bacteria as well.
For example, formaldehyde has often been used to increase the strength of TP, but it is a well-known carcinogen. A 2010 study found that the formaldehyde in the TP may be the culprit of vulva infections.
Bidet water is generally clean as it uses the water from your household water supply directly. The water quality in most areas is good enough to drink and wash. Aside from that, many electric bidet seats have an inner filter to improve water quality further.
You could also opt for an external bidet filter for other types of bidets.
Another downside of TP is that it can irritate your skin. It would not be an issue in many cases but could be problematic when you have hemorrhoids or other health conditions. You will feel more pain, and it could worsen the situation.
If you wipe your butt too often, it will damage your skin and lead to infections as well. The water stream from a bidet is gentle, so it will not cause any damage to your skin.
Possible reasons that can cause a bidet unsanitray
Even though bidets are more sanitary than TP, it is doesn’t mean that it is sanitary in any case. Some factors may cause a bidet unsanitary which you should avoid.
Using a bidet in public restroom
A study conducted in a hospital in Japan shows that 254 of 292 bidet seat nozzles sampled are contaminated by one or more organisms.
This study doesn’t indicate that there is any correlation between contaminated wands and infections of users. But it suggests that the bidets with high traffic need to be cleaned regularly.
If you want to use a shared bidet, you can use one square of TP to wipe the nozzle and the seat ahead to prevent possible infections.
Things are much better for those who use a bidet at home since not many people will share the bidet with you, and you know each other. But you still should clean your bidet frequently to avoid contamination of each part of your bidet.
Use a bidet improperly
There would be a short learning curve when you begin to use a bidet.
You may don’t know how to position yourself so that the water propping out from the nozzle can’t aim at the right place, causing a mess in the end.
It is possible that the water pressure is too high that the fecal matter on the back can travel to the front. These situations can make a bidet unsanitary for you.
So it is essential to take some practice before doing your business. Or, if you come to a new place, you should test the spray to ensure the settings are suitable for you.
Things can get a bit more complex when it comes to using a handheld bidet or travel bidet as you will need to take control of the spray direction and put the nozzle down the bowl.
Overuse the feminine wash
The feminine wash is a great feature for women as it provides a soft and wide spray to clean the vulva specifically. It will wash away the bacterias that may cause UTIs, which females are prone to. When I searched online, I found many professionals also support this view.
However, a study investigated 268 women in Japan and found that normal microflora (Lactobacillus species) was not present in 42.86% of habitual bidet users, compared to 8.77% of non-users.
However, another study indicated no significant relationship between habitual use and hemorrhoids and urogenital infections, and the relationship between it and bacterial vaginitis needs further studies to prove.
Hence, it is better to be safe than sorry. Females can use a feminine wash, but just don’t overdo it.
Are bidets sanitary for seniors?
As age advances, the body can get stiffer and less flexible, making reaching our hands down a hassle.
When seniors strive to wipe their butt, they likely can’t get their butt clean due to mobility issues, leading to poor butt health and other conditions.
By using a bidet, the water can take away the feces and urine so that seniors don’t need to wipe their butt, keep their independence, and maintain good personal hygiene.
I suggest seniors get an electric bidet seat because the air dryer can dry them off, and the remote allows them to sit straight without bending over and looking down to access the side panel.
Other types of bidets also work, but you may need some TP or bidet towel to pat yourself dry. A wet butt is not good as the moisture can lead to bacteria growth.
So bidets are sanitary for seniors. Actually, they are great for seniors.
Are bidets sanitary for women?
Although women’s physiology makes them susceptible to more infections in the sensitive area, bidets are safe for women to use.
As the water stream is curved and works like a reverse waterfall, all the stools will go straight down to the toilet bowl, meaning that the waste will not go to the lazy bits.
For vulva cleaning, many models have a feminine wash feature to take care of your most sensitive area. It will not irritate the skin as TP does, and the urine and bacteria can be removed effectively.
Nonetheless, please don’t overdo it, as I mentioned above. Overly cleaning the vulva might be associated with the incidence of bacterial vaginitis.
How to keep your bidet sanitary?
As I said, the bidet will be sanitary as long as it is clean. However, with use, it can be contaminated anyway. So it is crucial to find some ways to keep it sanitary.
Clean your bidet regularly
Unfortunately, cleaning and maintaining a bidet is a task for every bidet user. You can follow the guidance on the manual, but I advise you to clean it more often if the traffic increases a lot.
When you clean an electric bidet seat nozzle, it can extend automatically for easy access. For non-electric models, you can drag the wand out.
You should also clean other parts of the bidet because it will also get contaminated, and the bacteria may get into the tank and nozzles in the end.
Sometimes, you may need to take out the bidet entirely so as to get it thoroughly clean. Or, you need to replace a water filter to ensure water quality.
Get a bidet with a self-cleaning nozzle
Thanks to the development in this industry, you can find a myriad of bidets with self-cleaning nozzles nowadays.
Generally speaking, this feature allows the bidet to rinse the nozzle off before and after each use or work as you ask. It helps to remove bacteria and other debris remaining on the nozzle.
Furthermore, these nozzles are often made with anti-bacteria materials to reduce bacteria build-up.
Get a bidet with UV led or electrolyzed water
Some advanced bidets have more features for sanitizing. For example, some models have a UV Led to kill the bacteria around the nozzle.
The high models from TOTO often have an EWATER+ system that uses electrolyzed water to purify the water, clean the nozzle and prevent build-up in the bowl.
If budget is not an object, you can consider getting one with these extra features.
Make sure the nozzle is retractable
A retractable nozzle ensures that it will stay inside the guard during the bowel movement and urinating. This design prevents poop and pee will not accidentally getting into the nozzle.
Luckily, most models in the market right now have embedded this design already.
All and all, bidets are sanitary if you use them correctly and keep them clean.
It is more sanitary than toilet paper as it will not irritate the skin or leave feces or harmful additives on the skin.
It could improve personal hygiene in the elderly as seniors often find it is hard to wipe their butt thoroughly. With a bidet, they don’t need to wipe anymore.
Bidets are also sanitary for females as the bidet design ensures the waste on the posterior will not travel to the front area.
However, you should clean your bidet from time to time to make sure each part of it is not contaminated. Using a bidet correctly is also critical so that the spray can clean the right place without spraying poops everywhere.
For females, don’t overuse the front wash function. It may damage the normal bacteria environment and cause infections.