Is your bidet not cleaning everything? Today, we’re looking at reasons your bidet might not be cleaning as well as it should be. Several things can keep a bidet from getting all the poop off in a single cleaning session, and we’ll be going over a solution for each.
Bidets can fail to adequately clean for several reasons. When a bidet doesn’t clean thoroughly, causes range from low water pressure (e.g., electric bidets can be weak) to bad body positioning, and lack of aiming practice. Also, installation issues can prevent a bidet from performing as advertised.
We’ll be covering these issues and more in greater detail.
You’re on the Lowest Pressure Setting
I conducted a highly scientific experiment looking at the difference between using high vs low pressure and here were the results. Before you get grossed out, that’s peanut butter, cocoa powder, and flaxseed you’re looking at on the tissue paper.
The above results were from the “white glove test” if you will and indicate how much homemade Nutella was left on the palm of my hand after spraying it for a minute straight with no pre-wipe.
As you can see, there was a little residue left on the tissue to the right (high pressure) but a very small amount that could’ve been removed with a few more seconds of spray time.
The take-home message is that pressure matters a lot more than most folks realize. You’d think the lowest setting would be the lowest effective setting, but apparently not.
Most electric bidets have 3-5 pressure settings to choose from and non-electric units (seats and attachments) usually have a dial for continuous pressure adjustment.
If using a non-electric bidet, this probably isn’t the issue as pressure is pretty strong with manual units. If using an electric bidet, choose a stronger setting if there’s one available. In fact, use the highest setting and see if that helps.
If the most effective setting happens to be uncomfortable, use the strongest level that you find comfortable and try some of the other tips in this article.
Consider the Ole Pre-WIpe
Yep, that is what it sounds like. Wiping first can help clear larger debris so that the water stream can be put to good use, removing only what’s left clinging to the skin.
I did an experiment to see if wiping once before using the bidet had any effect, and the results were surprising.
Some find it surprising that not everyone completely gives up toilet paper post-enlightenment. If you’re wondering whether having to use TP defeats the purpose of getting a bidet, you can put your mind at ease. If you choose to pre-wipe, a bidet will still cut your toilet paper use by 95%+ when all is said and done.
The take-home lesson is that you don’t have to wipe first before using a bidet, but it might help.
As you can see from the pic below, the bidet alone worked fine but there’s some residual staining. Extra time spraying probably would’ve have done the trick. Still, pre-wiping does offer some benefits.
Pre-wiping isn’t nearly as important as choosing the right pressure setting, but it’s an easy fix that can go a long way in helping your bidet clean more efficiently.
If you want to give it a try, use a square or two of toilet paper to clear the way right after a bowel movement. Follow up with a minute-long spray sesh adjusting your position throughout and/or using the oscillating function if your model has one.
Problems with Aiming
Modern high-tech bidets allow for digital control of wand position, but some amount of strategic body positioning is going to be needed with even the fanciest electric seats.
Non-electric bidets require a little more work on your part but are still pretty accurate.
There is a small learning curve, so if you’re new to using a bidet, give it some time. Practice makes perfect.
For electric bidets:
- Try all the wand position settings. Play around with the wand adjustment control on the remote or side panel until you feel you’re getting the most coverage.
- Adjust the water pressure. After that, play with the water pressure. Increasing the pressure will aim the water stream farther forward, and dialing it down will aim the water further back.
- Move around a bit or use the oscillating function. Electric bidets often let you choose an oscillating spray pattern to cover a wider area, so if your bidet has one, you may want to give it a try. If not, adjust your body throughout the session to hit a wider area. Once the water is as close to the right spot as it can get, play with body positioning to fill in the accuracy gap. Try scooching around, bending a bit, and spread the cheeks if need be.
- Make use of user presets. Once you’ve mastered the above, save the settings in a user preset if your model allows for it. Most electric bidets allow the user to save settings for things like wand positioning, water pressure, and temperature.
For non-electric bidets, play around with water pressure and wand positioning until you get the right result. Because you get less precision with manual bidets, you’ll have to rely more on strategic body positioning to get water to the right spot (meet the bidet halfway, if you will).
Limited User Mobility
This issue is especially common with older adults. At least one study of seniors in nursing homes found that a single session often wasn’t enough to fully clean after bowel movements (reference). The authors of the study suspected the finding was due to the participants’ inability to shift around enough to get water to the right place.
Of course, that’s an extreme case, but limited mobility might be interfering to some degree with the ability of the bidet to clean.
See the above directions for aiming practice.
Keep in mind mobility is needed for wiping as well, so a bidet may still be the right choice even when strength and coordination are limiting factors.
If not using one already, it may be a good idea to get a seat with a remote control.
Faulty Seat Sensor and/or Eco Mode
Issues with the wash feature that can affect the quality of the clean include a faulty sensor and/or unresponsive Eco (power-saver) mode.
This is probably not the issue, because a faulty sensor usually results in no water coming out. If that were the case, you’d be reading an article on why your bidet isn’t working at all.
But I wouldn’t rule it out because such problems have been known to affect bidet functioning in a way that lowers the quality of the clean.
Anyway, when something seems to be wrong with the wash feature itself, the issue often has to do with a body sensor not acting right.
Electric bidets have sensors in the seat to detect when the user sits down, so the bidet knows it’s about to be used and can kick into action. You don’t want a bidet that sprays water all over the place when no one is sitting down.
Also, this is relevant for those using the Eco or power-saver mode. To help users save power, most modern electric bidets go into Eco mode when the sensor isn’t activated and the control panel/remote control hasn’t been used for a while.
You can start by turning the Eco mode off, just to take that out of the equation.
Have a seat and test out the bidet. If the body sensor doesn’t detect that you’re sitting on the bidet, adjust your sitting position so that you fully cover the body sensor.
For further troubleshooting (if that doesn’t work), check to see if your manual shows you how to override the body sensor. At least then you can see if that’s the problem.
Your Bidet Has a Time Out Feature
Some bidet seats (the BB Slim ONE comes to mind) have a timeout feature that a lot of users find pretty annoying.
With a timeout function, the spray session usually cuts off at about a minute. The timeout feature, when paired with lackluster water pressure (as is often the case), you get an inadequate cleaning session.
Sure, you could initiate another session, but you may be done cleaning before it finishes and you’ll just have to sit there getting sprayed with cold water (the water runs cold after about a minute with most seats).
With this feature, users are often led to believe they should be clean by the end of the session. After all, why should it cut off if there’s still plenty of work to be done?
When they find they’re not yet clean at the end of the session, it can seem like something is wrong with the bidet (I.e., it doesn’t work at all) when it just needed to spray for a bit more.
It would be one thing if the user could turn the time-out function “off” or intervene to make the wand spray longer by changing the setting, but that’s rarely the case.
If you have one of these bidets, the best move is to return it and get a different seat. High-quality bidets, like those made by TOTO, only stop spraying when the seat sensor detects the user standing up, or by hitting the “stop” button.
Your Electric Seat Has Weak Pressure
A lot of electric bidet seats are downright shameful when it comes to water pressure.
Here are just some of the emails I’ve gotten.
“The jet stream coming out of my bidet is like a water fountain even at the highest pressure setting.”
That’s a great way to put it. The main difference is that a water fountain at least has a higher flow rate, whereas bidet seats often put out a tiny little stream.
“Yes one main difference I’ve noticed compared to my last bidet is that the water pressure is way lower. This one has more pressure settings compared to my previous seat (5 instead of 3) but the max level is much weaker. I’m thinking it might be defective so I might have it replaced with a new one.”
In this exchange, it turns out it wasn’t a defective seat. It’s just that the particular bidet he’s referring to (an entry-level Bio Bidet) is known for having weak pressure.
“The water pressure is pretty low. I suppose it’s effective but I am used to a stronger pressure. It just feels better.”
I can relate to this comment too. Water pressure is about more than effectiveness. Sometimes I find that I pass the white glove test (read: toilet paper) but don’t feel particularly refreshed. Plus, a stronger pressure provides a nice massage-like effect most find useful for stimulating bowel movements—one reason why bidets are often useful for constipation.
Check the flow rate on your bidet manual, it should be listed in gallons or liters per minute (gal/min or L/min).
If it’s much less than 0.26 gal (1L), you may want to try a different seat.
Keep in mind, the flow rate isn’t actually the same as water pressure, but it’s a good estimate because electric bidets are pretty consistent in spray wand design (length of the wand, bore diameter, etc.).
High-quality electric bidets (TOTO seats, BB-1000, Alpha Gx, etc.), usually provide plenty of pressure to get an adequate clean, so it may be time for an upgrade.
For the best high-pressure bidets, check out this article.
You May Need a Non-Electric Bidet Instead
Another possibility is that an electric bidet may not be right for you. Some are more effective than others and high-quality seats work great for most people. But even the best electric bidets get some amount of negative feedback, and when they do, it almost always involves issues with low water pressure.
If you have a high-quality electric seat, and you still find the water pressure to be inadequate, you might be better off with a bidet attachment, non-electric seat, or handheld sprayer.
I generally recommend the LUXE or Tushy line of bidets, because they fit the widest range of toilets with the help of different add-ons that make available.
Heavier individuals often benefit the most from higher pressure, as they often need a stronger spray jet to adequately clean soiled areas in a single wash cycle.
Another factor is stool consistency. Some bowel movements are messier and more easily adhere to the skin and thus take longer to clean. Depending on factors like diet and genetics, this may be more of an issue for you.
Non-electric bidets lack a lot of cool features (e.g., warm water in most cases), but they have their benefits, namely, a much higher water pressure.
Look into a good attachment or manual seat.
They’re equally effective, less expensive, and easy to install.
Other Reasons for Weak Water Flow
We’ll hit these quickly.
First, make sure the shutoff valve isn’t partially closed. If it were all the way closed, you’d know by now as there would be zero water coming out of the nozzle. But it’s not uncommon for shutoff valves to be partially closed for whatever reason. Maybe someone bumped it or it wasn’t reopened completely after installing the bidet.
For bidet seats, check the water drain valve at the back of the bidet. Make sure it isn’t blocked with foreign matter. If it is, clean or replace the filter.
Ensure the T-adapter is properly connected. If not tightened all the way, water can seep out reducing flow through the bidet nozzle.
Check out all the tips in the article written here.
You’re Not Using an Ion Exchange Filter (Electric Seats)
If you’ve ever used a warm mist humidifier, you know how quickly hard tap water can gunk up the works if you don’t clean the unit from time to time. Imagine what the sludgy buildup of minerals can do to the inner workings of your bidet!
If your bidet gets bogged down with sediment, the flow of water through the nozzle will be reduced which will result in a low-quality clean.
Electric bidets are often equipped with external filters these days, and non-electric units can use them as well (more on that in the section below). But not all bidet filters are created equal. For water hardness, you need an ion exchange filter.
External filters are different than the simple mesh filters located on the bidet hose inlet—the external kind looks more like the sort used to filter drinking water. But unlike most filters for drinking water, ion exchange filters soften water in addition to eliminating microbes.
So you know, hard water forms when water percolates through mineral deposits (limestone, gypsum or chalk, etc.) that are composed of magnesium carbonates, sulfates, and bicarbonates. When water evaporates (i.e., via a bidet water heater), it leaves behind these minerals.
Using an external filter has a lot of benefits, so if you’re not using one it’s probably a good idea to start. They’re affordable (usually like $30 to $50) and can easily be found online.
One extra benefit is improved hygiene. Using dirty water raises the risk of getting infections, especially for women. More on that here.
As mentioned in this article, the quality of water treatment varies from city to city and country to country. We all remember the Flint water crisis. Hence, using a filter is probably a good idea.
You Need to Ditch the External Bidet Filter (Non-Electric Bidets)
Non-electric bidets tend not to be installed with external filters, as such a setup significantly lowers the water pressure.
Using an external filter with a non-electric bidet blunts the water pressure provided by the home. Since there’s no electric motor downstream of the filter, the water has no way to speed back up again.
Thus, using a filter with a non-electric bidet (an attachment, non-electric seat, or handheld sprayer), can weaken the water stream coming out of the nozzle keeping the bidet from cleaning everything.
If using an external filter with anything but an electric seat, take it off and see if that helps.
The Bidet Wand Needs Cleaning
Partially blocked holes on a bidet nozzle can reduce the flow of water coming out of the bidet and gunky buildup around the wand can keep it from functioning properly.
It’s not uncommon for nozzles to get stuck. Leading up to that issue is a nozzle that doesn’t extend or retract properly.
Sometimes the issue is hard water as we discussed above. Deposits can build up in and around the nozzle causing it to extend only partially. When this happens, the bidet doesn’t aim correctly, meaning it can’t clean very well unless the user repositions their body which may not be possible.
Other times the nozzle is positioned incorrectly, usually too close to the toilet tank. When that’s the case, it usually means the bidet wasn’t installed correctly.
First, ensure the holes on the nozzle aren’t blocked or partially clogged with any sort of buildup. If they are, use a small pick of some sort to dig out the gunk.
Check for hard water deposits around the nozzle by gently moving the wand up and down a few times. If you detect any buildup, clean the crevices with a paper towel or toothbrush soaked in a mixture of water and vinegar.
If the nozzle is too close to the tank, move the bidet forward until there’s enough clearance for the wand to extend from its housing. The mounting bracket and hardware that came with the bidet should provide enough play to move the bidet forward a bit.
Problems with the Water Supply
I had one person report that their bidet was much less effective when someone was in the shower or a washing machine was being used.
When the demand for water in the home is changed abruptly—usually, during water failure or when water is used elsewhere—it can affect the function of the bidet. Sometimes it cuts off completely (for safety reasons), but it often continues to clean (just less effectively).
Check water flow at other appliances in the home. If there’s reduced flow, then this is probably the issue–at least, it’s not helping matters.
Try operating the bidet when you know that no one else in the home is using the water. If it doesn’t help, at least you’ll know this isn’t the issue.
Sometimes the problem progresses to the point where the nozzle doesn’t come out—or if it comes out, the water doesn’t spray—in which case you may have a malfunction. Try unplugging the power plug for 10 seconds and reinserting it to see if that helps. If not, reach out to the manufacturer for a repair.
A Missing Nozzle Cap
Sometimes, water from the bidet nozzle sprays downward into the toilet bowl instead of upwards at your arse.
This issue is fairly common and is usually due to a missing nozzle cap. Sometimes it fits on loosely, enough so to leak water which reduces flow through the end of the nozzle. When this happens, it can result in a less effective clean.
On a lot of bidets, the nozzle(s) have a cap that screws onto the bottom of the wand, and this cap can fall off if not screwed on tightly.
If it fell off completely, it may be missing. Hopefully, that’s not the case because it can be hard to notice before flushing the toilet a time or two, which means bye-bye to the cap.
If it’s loose, put it on firmly and see if that improves the pressure and/or accuracy of the bidet. If the nozzle cap came off, the bidet may have come with extra spare parts including a cap or two. If not, you’ll have to source one from your bidet manufacturer.
Misaligned Holes on the Bidet Nozzle
The holes on the nozzle need to be facing forward or up for vertical and horizontal spray wands, respectively. If not, the water will spray off-center.
It may spray off to the side, backward, or downward into the bowl. If this is the issue, it’s more likely that the jet stream is off by a few degrees at most, which is enough to interfere with cleaning yet hard to notice by the user.
If this is the issue, you’ll need to reposition the wand.
To make sure the holes on the wand are facing in the right direction, open the little flap in front of the nozzle and pull the wand out manually or use the remote control/side panel to extend the nozzle—there should be a button that extends the wand for manual cleaning.
If the holes aren’t facing straight forward (vertical wands) or upward (horizontal wands), turn the nozzle(s) counterclockwise until the holes are facing in the right direction.
The Bidet Is Installed at an Angle
If the bidet isn’t installed completely straight before being fastened to the back of the toilet rim, the water will shoot to the side. As with the above scenario, the jet stream will miss the target and you’ll get a less effective clean.
Check the position and installation of the bidet against the instruction manual. If it looks off, adjust the positioning of the mounting plate on the toilet by a few degrees. This goes for both seats and attachments.
The mounting gear that comes with bidets usually has a little play in it. So, if the mounting plate is tightened down before it’s properly aligned, it can cause the cleaning wand to spray off-center a bit.
The Nozzle Is Spraying Too Far Back or Forward
Yet another issue with aiming accuracy.
Most bidets (attachments and seats) have a frontal cleaning feature meant for feminine hygiene, but the default posterior spray mode should, of course, be hitting the posterior region. And the front spray mode should be hitting the front.
Even when off by a little, the quality of the aiming accuracy can suffer—plenty enough to keep the bidet from cleaning effectively.
Make sure the bidet isn’t positioned too far back or too close to the front of the toilet. Similar to the above scenario, the mounting gear can be fastened down in a way that ensures the bidet will be too far back or forwards.
Sure, simply adjusting the pressure can help, but you should be able to choose a pressure that’s comfortable and effective for you, and not have to adjust it up or down to compensate for a bad installation.
Anyway, reposition the bidet by pulling it forwards or pushing it back towards the tank.