Today we’re talking about what to do if you don’t have a bidet. I.e., things to use if you want to cleanse with water but don’t want to install anything on the current toilet.
It’s a question often posed by folks looking to save money. Also, some of the first questions posed by visitors to the US from other countries is what to do when there is no bidet, or what to use instead of a bidet, etc.
Anyway, time to dive in.
Oral Irrigators (Water Flossers)
An obvious yet underappreciated replacement for a bidet is a water pick. And it works pretty well.
I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s been an off-label use of the water flosser long before portable bidets were widely available—though, I don’t want to know what it would take to stumble on that discovery by accident.
Stylized as WaterPik (Amazon Link), a water pick or water flosser is a device that uses a stream of water to clean between your teeth to serve as a replacement for flossing.
They’re pretty effective for cleaning teeth, so why not use the popular replacement for flossing as a replacement for a bidet?
The WaterPik comes in several models. They’re typically battery-powered with an attached water reservoir, but some are tethered to a small water supply hose that feeds from a larger tank.
A battery-powered pick would be a great replacement for a portable bidet that can be used on the go. If you plan to park the device in one bathroom for long periods, the kind with a water hose would be ideal as they feed from a larger water reservoir and thus are less likely to run out mid-wash.
In a rigorous scientific experiment that tested which device would clean the most fake poop from the palm of my hand in 30sec to 1min, both the bidet and WaterPik achieved the following white glove test results:
As you can see, pretty impressive. The bidet was only better in that it was easier to use.
Here are the results from using toilet paper alone. I.e., I wiped fake poop from my hand with toilet paper and followed up with another wipe (a separate piece of TP) to see if there was any residue left.
Before you get grossed out, that’s peanut butter, cocoa powder, and ground flaxseed.
Pros and Cons
- Portable and travel-friendly.
- Easy to find.
- Capable of warm water cleansing.
- Low cost-efficacy.
- Low powered, not very effective.
- Has to be used at an awkward angle.*
*You may notice from the video above, I’m holding the water pick at an angle. If you hold it down as you would a portable bidet, gravity works against the device because it can’t pull water from the bottom of the reservoir.
But it’s still workable if you don’t mind leaning to the side and living your leg up a bit.
Anyway, on to the pros and cons…
You may not have asked for portability, but it’s a nice feature in case you want to use it on the go.
For warm water, you need only fill the reservoir with hot water from the tap.
In the US, bidets aren’t yet mainstream enough to encounter at places like Wal-Mart and CVS. Hopefully, that’ll change with time. The great thing about oral irrigators is that you can find them about anywhere these days. Apparently, most of us just can’t be bothered to floss.
Oral irrigators are relatively effective compared to low-end portable bidets. I tried it out just to see, and I’d say it’s about as effective, just a bit more awkward to use.
That’s not saying much. Portable bidets are already known for offering lackluster power, so a battery-powered device that’s not even designed for use as a bidet is almost sure to be comparably ineffective.
On a related note, another issue is that it’s not cost-effective. The problem with using a water flosser as a bidet is that you’ll be limited to using devices that are laying around not being used anymore.
Let me explain…
The only way it makes sense to use an oral irrigator as a bidet is if (a) the device saved money or (b) it actually worked better than a portable bidet. We’ve established that they don’t work any better, so that leaves us with the price difference if there is any.
Oral irrigators are surprisingly comparable to portable bidets in price. For more info, check out this article. * A decent battery-powered bidet will run you about $30 to $50, the exact same price range as a WaterPik.
The only way it would save money is by using the water flosser for cleaning the mouth and butt–that way you’re getting two devices in one… Enough said.
But if you happen to have an oral irrigator laying around somewhere that you don’t think you’ll get around to using, it may be a good idea to give it a try.
As you can see, they’re basically the same. The bidet paper is a little wetter because it dried the skin in addition to testing for chocolate stains.
If not for the bidet, wet wipes would be the ultimate life hack for booty hygiene. I used them for years before hearing what a bidet was.
They do have their downsides, but they’re probably just as effective. Anyone who says otherwise is probably trying to sell you a bidet.
Pros and Cons
- Short-term savings.
- Equally as effective as a bidet.
- More expensive than a bidet long-term.
- Harsh on the plumbing.
- Bad for the environment.
You will save money up front by going with wet wipes. A multi-pack of generic wipes (3 x 48 or 144 wipes) will run you about $4 in most cases. If one had three bowel movements a day at home using three squares each time, it would cost about $8 per month.
Given they’re about as effective as a bidet (at least I think so), you will save money in the beginning by using wipes.
Yes, you’ll spend way more over a lifetime (thousands perhaps) by continuing to use paper, but if money is tight right now, it may make sense to put off getting a bidet for a while.
As mentioned, moist wipes are hard on your plumbing. They’re bad for sewer systems and a nightmare for septic tanks. More on that here.
Wet wipes are made of biodegradable materials, hence why they’re advertised as being flushable. While the plant-based fibers do break down over time, wet wipes are made to be durable.
Toilet paper dissolves easily which is why it’s hard to use wet TP for cleaning without having it unravel in your hands (and elsewhere).
Being thicker and less susceptible to tearing, wet wipes resist being disentangled making it more difficult for anaerobic bacteria to break down the fibers.
If you’re going to use them, make sure to follow the directions: no more than a square or two per flush and as always, have the system pumped out regularly.
Finally, paper, in general, is bad for the environment. As discussed in the article on how bidets save water, 37 gallons of water are needed to make a single roll of TP. This article by Scientific American claims that widescale adoption bidets would save 15 million trees every year.
That’s not to say it’s wrong to use TP or wet wipes—we use paper every day. But for those who are especially environmentally-conscious, it may be a factor to consider.
Portable Squeeze Bottle
Yes, I count this as a replacement, because the squeeze bottle bidet is often overlooked for anything but feminine hygiene.
Squeeze bottles are still advertised as “bidets” but most of us don’t think of them when we hear the word.
The term “bidet” started out as a word for the classic European-style standalone washbasins, and later expanded to include any device that uses water to cleanse the posterior and frontal regions after a bowel movement and/or urinating.
Somewhere along the way, squeeze bottles were adopted. They’ve remained popular but more so for on-the-go feminine hygiene, especially during periods and pregnancy.
The squeeze bottle is a classic and there’s a good reason it’s been around for so long and continues to be sold by bidet manufacturers like Brondell: it works.
Pros and Cons
- Warm water capable.
- Portable and travel-friendly.
- Easily found online.
- Durable (few moving parts).
- Easily control the pressure.
- Limited water (needs refilling).
These things are cheap in the best sense of the word. You can get a high-quality squeeze bottle bidet like the Brondell GoSpa for about $10.
For warm water, simply fill the reservoir with heated water from the bathroom sink.
Being handheld, they’re pretty effective overall, because you can put the nozzle as close as you want to the soiled area.
Because they’re simple in their construction, you don’t have to worry about components breaking or swapping out batteries.
They’re easy to find online and you may have luck at common retailers.
Cheap Diaper and Vegetable Sprayers
Handheld sprayers are abundant online and they go by several different labels:
- Vegetable sprayer.
- Diaper cleaner.
- Douche or enema kit.
With all the different labels and applications handheld sprayers can have, they’re often overlooked by folks when weighing their options.
I’d imagine most reading this are looking for a cheaper alternative to a bidet or something less invasive than attachments and seats. Handheld sprayers meet both criteria.
If you’re willing to add something to your toilet in an easy and reversible installation, a handheld sprayer is probably the way to go.
Most don’t realize that you don’t have to pay $50 for a Brondell handheld bidet to get a device with the same capabilities.
In my experience, handheld sprayers marketed for other purposes are often much less expensive.
Pros and Cons
- Inexpensive (as low as $15).
- Easy to install.
- Higher pressure/great clean (most effective of the lineup).
- Lower quality than sprayers from reputable Bidet manufacturers.
If you can, this is probably the way to go. Aside from the wet wipes, it’s by far the most effective option here. Handheld bidets work with the home’s water pressure so they provide more spray power compared to that offered by squeeze bottles and battery-powered motors.
You won’t save much money by going with another option in this article. You can get a cheap sprayer for about what you’d pay for a few packs of wet wipes and it’ll last you much longer and save way more money over time.
For renters, you needn’t worry about installation because handheld sprayers can be installed without any permanent alterations to the property.
If you get one, it probably won’t last as long or be as leak-resistant as the more expensive Brondell sprayers. But you’ll save money in the short term and you can always upgrade later.
A Special Bottle Cap Sprayer
I like the CuloClean for this. It’s a device that allows you to turn almost any bottle of drinking water into a handheld bidet.
Pros and Cons
- Super portable (can fit in small pants pocket).
- Requires a generic water bottle.
- Potential compatibility issues with different bottles.
The CuloClean is the most portable of portable options. It’s inexpensive at around $10 to $15 and comparable in effectiveness to other squeeze bottle bidets.
You don’t have to worry about the thread pattern on water bottles (which can vary in thickness and spacing), because the CuloClean goes on the inside. But because of where it’s placed, the bottle opening will need to be the right diameter.
It seems to work best with 20 oz bottles, and not so much with 16.9 oz and below. I rarely have 20 oz bottles on me these days, so it would be a bad fit for me.
Requiring a generic water bottle is both a pro and a con. On the plus side, it takes up less space. On the downside, you have to source a bottle when you need to use it.
You may find that you end up keeping an empty bottle on you, which kind of defeats the purpose as you can get the Brondell GoSpa for about the same price (a bit cheaper actually).
How to Clean Yourself Without a Bidet: Conclusion
So, if you’re looking to clean with water but don’t want to deal with the hassle or cost of installing a bidet, you do have options.
Most bidet bloggers don’t write about this stuff because they want to sell you on the $700 advanced bidet seat. I think everyone should have access to a clean ass regardless of one’s living situation or budget.
That’s it for now. Thanks for reading.