In today’s article, we’ll be looking at how handheld bidets work. The handheld sprayer is one of the more primitive bidet models. It’s not as old as the standalone kind—the separate washbasins located next to toilets—but they’ve been around for a long time and remain popular.
A lot of folks ask how this variety of bidet works, so in this article, we’ll cover how they function and, and touch on the differences between the various handheld sprayers on the market.
Handheld bidets work by providing the user a way to perform a manual cleanse. They’re fixed to the toilet (though detachable) and connect to the toilet’s system by a flexible hose allowing them to tap into the toilet’s water supply. Like travel bidets, they’re free to squirt in any direction.
I just mentioned travel bidets, another type of handheld sprayer that’s completely portable. While they’re handheld, 99% of the time the term “handheld bidet” is used to refer to the semi-permanent fixtures just described.
Above is just a general description. There are a couple of types of handheld bidets on the market that function slightly differently. So, in this article, we’ll be touching on the differences and how they compare.
Handheld Bidets That Use Cold Water
This is the most common setup. You may have encountered them if you’ve traveled to Europe or Southeast Asia.
With this kind, you use a T-connector to route water from the cold water line that feeds the commode’s tank. The water is routed to both the tank and handheld sprayer—the latter via the water supply hose.
The T-connector puts a fork in the road that sends water in two directions. See the picture below.
These really don’t vary that much.
There are a few potential differences:
- Quality. The main difference would be the quality of materials used. As usual, the cheaper the product, the lower the quality and the more likely it will leak, etc.
- Price. This relates to the above. I know cheap in one sense usually means cheap in the other, but that’s not always the case. You can find these for as little as $15 with the more expensive varieties approaching $50. Regardless of the price, always check reviews.
- Jet design. Just like with showerheads, the number of water holes and how they’re arranged can vary. Jets (the water trajectory) can range from strong and concentrated to soft and distributed. I’d imagine some of the fancier units allow for adjustment in this area.
Handheld Bidets Attached to the Plumbing
This doesn’t really relate to a difference in the model used, but how it’s set up.
Some users choose to hook their supply hose directly into the plumbing—namely, the warm water line.
One of the great features offered by modern-day electric bidets is the ability to use warm water, a feature that fancy bidet owners usually swear by.
Warm water offers a more thorough clean and increases blood flow, which some find useful when it comes to using the bidet for issues like constipation.
Warm water also partly accounts for why bidets feel so good.
When water is sent to your house, some is diverted away from the water heater to feed the cold water appliances in the home—like the toilet. Of course, water coming from the heater is sent to hot water appliances like the shower and faucet.
Depending on one’s knowledge of plumbing or willingness to hire an expert, some users get creative and hook their bidet straight into the warm water supply.
This does have drawbacks:
- Difficult installation. Even if you have the know-how, it’s still quite a hassle—much more so than the 10-minute process required to install sprayers in the traditional way.
- Expensive. In the event you don’t know how to (or simply can’t be bothered to) perform the installation on your own, you have to outsource the job. Plumbers aren’t cheap.
- Permanent alteration of the property. This isn’t a given, but it’s often required. One of the more common questions I get is whether bidets can be installed in apartments. Renters are usually hesitant to make any permanent changes to a property. While most bidets are rental property-friendly, any bidet using a setup that requires you to make permanent changes is a no-go without express permission by the owner.
If you really want warm water, there is another option.
Handheld Bidets Attached to Faucets
Some models allow for the use of warm water by way of using a special connection to hook the supply hose up to a warm water source. The source is usually the bathroom sink, but some choose to use the showerhead.
While they offer warm water, they do have a few drawbacks:
- Warm water delay. When washing your hands in the sink, there’s always the required 1-2 minute waiting period to get the water up to the right temperature. This can be a problem because you’ll likely be done cleaning before the water starts to run warm. One option is to direct the water stream into the toilet for a bit before using it. Another is to let the water run warm before sitting down to do your business.
- Constant attachment and detachment. Unless you have a dedicated bidet faucet in your bathroom—something out of the question if you only have one faucet—then you’ll have to hook the bidet up every time you want to use it. The cold water setup is great because there’s a one-time 10 min installation and that’s it. “Set it and forget it”. With the warm water spigot attachment, you have to “install” the unit with each use or have a bidet hose constantly dangling from your sink faucet.
Shower-Friendly Handheld Bidets
Not to be confused with the term “bidet shower” a generic name for a regular handheld sprayer.
These actually do hook up to showers.
They come with their own warm water attachment that’s connected to the showerhead. Because most hook up to the neck of the showerhead, they can be left in place and don’t require you to hook it up with each use.
These are ideal for folks who want an occasional cleansing of the nether regions or want to use the unit to perform a DIY enema—the shower is an ideal spot for an enema because water tends to get all over the place.
I’m sure most of you are researching standard handheld bidets attached to toilets, but I thought I’d mention these just for the sake of completeness.
Handheld sprayers are general-purpose water sprayers which is why they resemble the vegetable sprayers common in kitchen sinks—the nozzles used to rinse produce and clean dishes.
Sprayers found in bathrooms around the world are primarily for personal hygiene but are also used for general bathroom cleanup and other tasks.
Because of their versatility, handheld bidets are often marketed for other purposes:
- Female hygiene
- Postpartum care
- Diaper sprayers
- Vegetable sprayers (not kidding, some are advertised for both)
I mention this just to clear up some confusion when you’re browsing sprayers for purchase.
Travel-Friendly Units: The Other Handheld Bidets
Finally, all travel bidets are handheld. If you’re interested in these, make sure to check out the article on travel bidets.
Because I’ve written an article on the subject, I won’t go into much detail here. Just know that there’s a class of handheld bidets that are not tethered to your current bathroom in any way.
This appeals to some users, especially those who are wary of installing any bidet in their apartment, however temporary and reversible the installation is.
Like with the original handheld sprayers, they’re used to perform a manual cleansing and can be pointed in any direction.
Finally, there’s a great travel-friendly handheld bidet on the market, the MyPortaWash Model-T portable rechargeable bidet. portable rechargeable bidet. It looks and functions like most handheld sprayers but uses a small electric motor to pull water from a reservoir of some type.
It comes with its own collapsible water container, but any container of the right size will do.
Via the motor, it pulls water from the reservoir through the supply hose and out through the nozzle.
As a travel bidet, it’s much less versatile in that you’re not going to be using it in public bathrooms. But it’s great for short-term stays (Airbnb, hotels, etc.) and for those who don’t want to install anything.
That should do it for handheld bidets.
While they are primitive and offer very few features, they come with their own perks. They’re the cheapest of all bidet varieties, and aiming is perhaps the most accurate and straightforward with these.
While electric bidet seats and toilets are highly accurate and precise—especially after a couple of tries—handheld bidets are entirely manual allowing you to get the water where you want it to go from the beginning.
Like they say, if you want something done right, do it yourself!
Finally, if the idea of using warm water really appeals to you, you’d be best off going with a modern electric bidet.
My favorite, the one I own and recommend, is the TOTO C100. It has warm water, a dryer for your bum, pressure control, a self-cleaning wand, and a sensor/washing function that cleanses the bowl automatically with each use.
Regardless of the bidet you choose, they all far outperform toilet paper in every respect—from hygiene and lifetime cost to environmental sustainability.
Thanks for reading.