How to Use An Italian Bidet Without Embarrassing Yourself

I still remember vividly the first time I visited Italy. My stomach lurched a little as the plane touched down in Rome. Stepping off, the warm Italian air hit me like a hug, laced with the scent of espresso and something vaguely floral. After navigating the airport with a mix of rusty Italian phrases from high school and wild gesticulation, I finally reached my cozy Airbnb in a charming Trastevere alleyway.

Exhausted but exhilarated, I dumped my backpack and made a beeline for the bathroom. Relief washed over me… until I saw it. Nestled beside the toilet, like a porcelain question mark, sat a bidet.

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Panic bloomed in my chest. What in the world was that strange contraption? I vaguely remembered classmates whispering about “bidets” in health class, but the details remained a murky memory. Fear of a public restroom faux pas morphed into a fierce determination to figure it out myself.

First, a cautious inspection. It looked like a tiny sink, but with a sprayer attached. I tentatively turned the knobs – a blast of cold water jolted me back. Lesson learned: always test the temperature! Sitting on the unfamiliar fixture felt awkward at first, but the warm water spray provided a surprisingly refreshing clean.

How to Use An Italian Bidet Without Embarrassing Yourself

There isn’t actually a specific type of bidet called an “Italian bidet.”  The term “bidet” itself most likely originated in France in the 17th century, but bidets became widely popular in Italy after World War II.

Italy is one country where bidets are extremely common, found in most homes and many hotels.  However, the bidet you’ll find in Italy is the most common type worldwide – a standalone bidet or free standing bidet.  This is a separate fixture next to the toilet with its own faucet and controls, unlike the other kind, a bidet attachment, which installs directly onto a toilet seat.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on using an Italian bidet like a pro:

  1. Do your business first:  Always use the toilet before moving to the bidet. Bidets are for cleaning after using the toilet, not a substitute.
  • Adjust yourself:  Most people find it comfortable to sit facing the controls (the faucet knobs or levers) on the bidet. This might feel counterintuitive at first, but it gives you better control.
  • Test the water:  Bidet faucets can be like any faucet – the temperature can change quickly.  Before settling in, turn on the water with a hand and adjust the temperature to comfortably warm or cool.
  • Target and clean:   Bidets typically have separate controls for a front and back spray. Use a gentle stream to clean the desired area. Note: In some bidets, the water spray might be activated by a lever you press with your body while using the bidet.
  • Dry off:   Many Italian bathrooms have a small bidet towel specifically for drying after using the bidet.  If one isn’t provided, toilet paper works too, but avoid using the same towel you’ll use on your face or hands.
  • Wash up:   Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the bidet, just like after using the toilet.

Here is a quick video that demonstrates these steps;

Bonus tips:

  • Don’t use too much pressure: The bidet spray is meant for a gentle clean, not a power wash.
  • Ask if unsure: If you’re staying at someone’s home or a hotel that has a bidet and you’re not sure how to use it, there’s no shame in asking your host or the hotel staff for a quick demonstration. They’ll likely be happy to help.
  • Relax! Bidets are a very common bathroom fixture in many parts of the world, including Italy. Using one is a hygienic practice, and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

Pros of Italian Bidets:

  • Aesthetics and Space: Standalone bidets are separate fixtures, often resembling a small, elongated toilet. This can create a more aesthetically pleasing and integrated look in your bathroom, especially if you’re renovating or building a new bathroom from scratch.  They also offer a dedicated space for using the bidet, which can be preferable if you find attachments a bit cramped.
  • Functionality and Features:  Standalone bidets tend to offer more features than attachments. They may have a wider range of water pressure adjustments, heated water options, and even integrated air dryers.  These features can elevate your bidet experience and provide a more spa-like feel.
  • Durability and Longevity: Standalone bidets are generally sturdier than attachments. They’re designed to be freestanding fixtures and can often be made with higher-quality materials. This can translate to a longer lifespan for your bidet investment.
  • Comfort and User Experience: Standalone bidets offer a dedicated space to sit and adjust yourself for optimal cleaning. This can be more comfortable compared to some bidet attachments that require maneuvering on the toilet seat.

Cons of Italian Bidets:

  • Cost: Standalone bidets are typically more expensive than bidet attachments.  The additional plumbing and installation can also add to the cost compared to the relatively simple setup of an attachment.
  • Space Requirements: Standalone bidets take up additional floor space in your bathroom. This might not be ideal for smaller bathrooms where every square foot counts.
  • Installation: Standalone bidets require more complex installation compared to attachments. This might involve plumbing modifications and could necessitate the help of a professional plumber.

Who Should Consider an Italian Bidet?

If you’re renovating your bathroom or building a new one and have the space, a standalone bidet can be a great choice. It allows for a more integrated and aesthetically pleasing design, and offers the potential for a wider range of features and a more comfortable user experience.

However, if you’re on a budget or have a smaller bathroom, a bidet attachment might be a better option. They offer the core benefits of bidets at a lower cost and require a simpler installation process.

Ultimately, the best way to choose is to consider your needs, budget, and bathroom layout.  Research both standalone bidets and bidet attachments to find the solution that best suits you.

Wrapping Up

Using an Italian bidet always feels like a surge of accomplishment. Not only will you conquer the bidet, but also unlock a new level of personal hygiene. 


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