How Do Non-Electric Bidets Work? Explanation with Pictures

Today’s question is all about how non-electric bidets work. There are actually a few different types of non-electric bidets, and we’ll be touching on each.

Non-electric bidets are mechanical and work strictly off of water pressure. With the help of a connector, water from the cold service line is routed to both the tank and bidet (an attachment or handheld sprayer). Warm water is possible with some attachments via the sink hot water shutoff valve.

I.e. they don’t come with many features. If you want warm water, then a special adapter will be needed to allow you to hook the supply hose up to a faucet.

How non-electric bidets work is a good question. Unless you have a background in plumbing or engineering, it may not be obvious how a stream of water could be generated without an electric motor of some type.

And what about non-electric bidets that shoot warm water? How does the water get warm? So you know, non-electric bidets that shoot warm water are the exception. More on that later.

What we’ll do here is go over the different types of non-electric bidets on the market, their functioning, along with their pros and cons.

Non-Electric Bidets: A Primer

First a quick note. The rest of the article will make much more sense if you’re familiar with the different types of bidets.

Non-electric bidets come in three forms:

  1. Modern attachments. Like bidet seats, these attach to your current toilet, but they don’t replace any parts (bidet seats replace the seat/lid combo on your commode). They’re installed just underneath your toilet seat (in the same bolt holes). They consist of the part that attaches to the commode, the nozzle that shoots water at your bum, and a control arm that extends to the side. The control arm is where you turn the bidet on, control the water pressure, etc.
  2. Handheld sprayers. These are the handheld sprayers that resemble sprayers common in kitchen sinks. They’re situated next to toilets. Unlike attachments, they’re not automatic. When you’re ready, you reach out to the side to grab the sprayer and position it under your nether regions to give yourself a manual rinse.
  3. Primitive attachments. For the sake of completeness, I’ll mention these. I do still see them on the market here and there, but they’re much less common. Like the attachments above, they’re fixed to your toilet and don’t replace any parts. But they’re all metal and the nozzle in the toilet bowl is mostly fixed. Nozzles on modern bidet attachments retract and extend so they’re out of the way when you do your business. The primitive attachments, on the other hand, run the risk of getting soiled and contaminated by urine.

In my experience, the term “non-electric bidet” usually refers to the modern bidet attachments described above.

So, 9 out of 10 times this is what’s meant by non-electric bidet.

For example, traditional standalone European-style bidets (the separate washbasins) are non-electric but are rarely referred to as non-electric bidets.

The handheld sprayer is the original non-electric bidet that shoots water, which is why I mention them here. The best hand held bidets are leak-resistant and warm water capable with the right attachments.

As mentioned, handheld sprayers usually aren’t referred to as non-electric bidets. I.e. if you perform an internet search for non-electric bidets it’s the modern attachments that come up first.

If you’re going to go with a non-electric bidet, I’d recommend the Tushy Classic or a good LUXE model like the Neo 320. Attachments can be unsightly and bulky but not the Tushy Classic.

The Tushy model is one of the most aesthetic designs you’ll find. It’s high-quality, doesn’t leak, and gives as thorough as clean as you can get.

Anyway, let’s get into how these attachments function without electricity.

Getting the Water to the Bidet

Standalone bidets (the European kind) have several unique plumbing requirements, but handheld bidets, seats, and attachments are much simpler.

Water is supplied to modern bidets in the same way it’s supplied to any other non-heated water appliance in the home.

Your property receives treated, pressurized water from your city’s water main. Large water pumps provide all the pressure needed to get the water from the pumps to your backside.

Water is carried, via a supply line, from the mainline to your house.

Once on your property, the mainline runs to the water heater, but just before it arrives, it splits off to feed the cold service line that delivers water to your non-heated water appliances (e.g. the toilet).

All of this to say that the water pressure that reaches your toilet and non-electric bidet is sufficient. In fact, it’s far greater than the pressure created by electrical pumps–those present in electrically-powered bidet seats and toilets.

Folks often assume that an electric motor would be needed to create a stream of water sufficient to get a thorough clean.

Most electric bidets heat the water first and then use a small pump to send it through the nozzle.

Since non-electric bidets use the home’s water pressure to send water through the nozzle, the max pressure tends to be much higher on these models compared to bidet seats and toilet combos.

Of course, you’ll have a pressure control dial to get the water flow to your liking.

Getting the Water to Your Bum

When you purchase or install a non-electric bidet, you’ll be hooking up an adapter. Adapters come in different forms, some being larger T-valves or T-connectors with others being small and only having threaded sections (no valves).

Normally the water runs straight from your wall (from the small shut-off valve located next to your toilet) to the commode’s tank.

When you set up your bidet, you’ll be using the adapter to route water to the tank and the bidet attachment or handheld sprayer.

The dial on the control arm (or trigger on the handheld bidets) is then used to control water pressure through the nozzle.

How Do Bidet Attachments Work?

Bidet attachments are strictly mechanical and work off of water pressure alone. Even the retractable wands are non-electric. They attach to your current toilet underneath the seat without replacing any parts. Those that spray warm water, source water from the hot water sink shutoff valve.

One concern a lot of people have when first researching the subject is whether or not bidets get poop on them.

Modern bidets, from attachments to seats and bidet-toilet combos, have nozzles or wands that are retractable.

They only extend when needed. Additionally, most seats and toilet-bidet combos have self-cleaning nozzles that rinse off with each use. Some modern attachments have this function as well.

While self-cleaning wands are less common on attachments, they’re still a somewhat common feature.

You might be wondering how a non-electric bidet can extend or retract components. With seats and toilet-bidet combos, it’s obvious because they’re electric.

The technology varies depending on the model, but the extension and retraction of the nozzle on non-electric bidets is purely mechanical working via water pressure.

Here’s a modern day bidet attachment.

But, again, that goes for the modern kind. What about the primitive all-metal bidet attachments?

The primitive bidet attachments, as discussed at the beginning of the article, are made of metal and are fixed to the toilet bowl.

Old school bidet attachments do not extend or retract. They do swivel on a hinge so you can push them out of the way to some extent. But, unlike most modern bidet attachments, they don’t move out of the way completely.

Here’s an old model attachment that has to be extended and retracted manually.

Note how, when retracted, the nozzle is still exposed to the contents of the bowl.

Being more primitive, you’d think this kind would be cheaper than the modern attachments, but that’s not always the case. I’ve seen some up in the $150 to $200 range whereas the modern attachments usually go for less than $100.

I’m not sure what the appeal is with this kind, other than that they come with more chrome than a Harley Davidson exhaust system.

They have fewer features than the modern attachments, and again, they don’t seem to be any less expensive with some having a higher price tag.

Non-Electric Bidets Lack Features that Need Electricity

Non-electric bidets, whether we’re talking attachments or handheld sprayers, are for the minimalist. They shoot water but do little else.

Electric bidets offer several awesome features depending on the model:

  • Digital temperature control. Most lack temperature control altogether. Electric bidets warm up the water on the spot so you don’t have to purchase attachments that hook up to your sink. Bidet attachments that hook up to the sink shutoff valve require a certain bathroom setup. Those that hook directly to the sink require a hose and/or connector to be attached to the faucet at all times.
  • Remote controls. Bidet attachments use control arms that tend to be on the bulky side. When a control arm is present, they’re usually sleeker and more stylish overall.
  • Dryer.  Being electric, most models have dryers to blow dry your bum after you wash. It’s convenient and keeps you from needing to dab yourself dry with toilet paper or a towel.
  • Self-cleaning bowl. A lot of models self-clean. The bowl is sprayed with a cleaner before and after each use and some models clean at regular intervals when not in use.
  • Deodorization. An electric fan runs air through a carbon filter keeping your bidet and restroom smelling fresh.
  • Self-closing lid. These are common on modern electric toilets, even non-bidets.
  • Heated seats. This may seem excessive, but some owners swear by these.

The main benefit offered by attachments is that they are cheaper overall. It varies, of course, and the higher-end attachments can rival some of the cheaper seats.

But, on balance, bidet attachments are about half to a third of the price of a good bidet seat.

Why Is Non-Electric Bidet Water Cold?

As touched on earlier, bidets are supplied with the same water that feeds the toilet. And toilets get water from your home’s cold water service line—a water supply that branches away from the main line before reaching the water heater.

Electrical bidets contain heaters that locally warm up the water in a small reservoir when the heating function is turned on (some prefer to use cool water).

The electricity serves other features depending on the model like a dryer, heated seat, self-cleaning bowl, deodorizer, etc.

Do Any Non-Electric Bidets Use Warm Water? And, if So, How?

Some non-electrical bidets can deliver warm water. This goes for both bidet attachments and handheld sprayers. While not a standard feature, some models come with connectors that allow you to hook the supply hose to the spigot in your sink or on your showerhead.

The main way to get warm water is through the hot water shutoff valve underneath the sink.

The shutoff valve setup works for attachments and requires that your toilet be close enough to the sink and it favors bathrooms with pedestal sink. If there’s any cabinetry around the sink, it’ll need drilling into.

The other way to source warm water is to use the bathroom sink spout. In this way, you can run warm water through a faucet to feed the bidet nozzle. The faucet setup works for handheld sprayers.

The sink spigot method isn’t particularly popular, as most bidet users prefer to hook the unit up to the water supply line and be done with it.

It’s usually considered bothersome to have to constantly disconnect and reconnect the bidet each time you need to use it. This may not always be a problem depending on the bathroom.

For example, a restroom with two sinks could have a faucet dedicated to the bidet. But this is probably not a practical solution for most.

If you get a bidet with the warm water attachment, you’ll need to make sure you have a sink that’s close enough to the toilet.

Also, keep in mind that, with a sink, the water has to run a good bit before it flows warm–sometimes a minute or longer in colder months.

So, you may need to run the water before attaching the hose otherwise the water may not be warm before you’re done cleaning.

If you know what you’re doing, you can hook the bidet directly to a hot water line, but this would require a permanent alteration to your property


So, there you have it.

Non-electric bidets work by using the home’s water pressure to propel water through a nozzle at the soiled area. Bidet attachments attach to your existing toilet without replacing anything. Like electric bidets, non-electric seats have an integral bidet and replace the current toilet seat.

So, non-electrical bidets are strictly mechanical. The water pressure supplied to the toilet is plenty sufficient to deliver water through the nozzle.

The mechanics of how non-electric bidets function depends on the model.

Attachments and handheld sprayers both belong to the category of non-electric bidets, but the term typically refers to the former.

Old model bidet attachments have a spray nozzle that’s fixed to the toilet bowl and can only be pushed out of the way.

Modern attachments come with a retractable nozzle that’s hidden and protected from the contents of the toilet bowl when not in use.

The nozzles on new bidet attachments have a mechanism that uses water pressure to extend and retract—no electricity needed. 

The pressure dial on the control arm of bidet attachments allows you to mechanically control the amount of water used. So, again, no electricity is required.

Some attachments and sprayers allow for a warm water cleansing, but these models have to be hooked up to the sink for the warm water to work.

That’s it for now, thanks for reading.

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