Today’s article looks at whether bidet water is clean. Where does bidet water come from? Does it come from the toilet or some special reservoir? It seems like questions related to hygiene and sanitation often come up first when folks first start researching the subject.
Bidet water is as clean as the water that supplies the sink and bathtub, as it is sourced from the same water lines. Bidets source water from the shutoff valve, not the toilet itself. For further sanitation, a water filter can be used to clean water before it reaches the nozzle.
Non-electric bidets and handheld sprayers can be outfitted with a water filter, but it can have a negative effect on the water pressure.
For those in a rush, here’s a quick experiment where I tested the levels of contaminants in bidet vs shower water (testing one sample of each) so I could compare the results.
How Clean Is Bidet Water?
Bidet water is as clean as bathwater. Bidet water has more in common with water from the shower than that of the toilet. And as with a bath, the cleanliness of the water is partly influenced by how well the fixture is cleaned. So, it’s a good idea to clean your bidet as you would any other bathroom fixture.
Here’s collecting the samples:
The bacteria test is the most important for hygiene.
Amber indicates a low presence of harmful bacteria.
Checking for heavy metals, nitrates, and pH. It’s a less relevant test for our purposes, but I’m just being thorough.
Off on all but one measure, zinc, which only matters for drinking water, and is barely out of range anyway.
As you can see, no problems.
Keep in mind, the specific results apply to my water supply, but the takehome message is that there was no difference between the two samples.
Where Does Bidet Water Come From?
Bidet water comes from a home’s cold service lines that feed cold water appliances on the property (e.g. toilets). With electric bidets, the water is heated and often filtered before being sent through the nozzle. Some non-electric bidets receive water from the hot water lines.
Namely, some handheld sprayers come with special plumbing equipment that allows you to hook the sprayer’s supply hose directly into the home’s plumbing. Others can be hooked up directly to the bathroom faucet. This is for bidet users who prefer handheld sprayers but want to use warm water.
Some bidet attachments and most non-electric seats can be attached to the hot water shutoff valve beneath the bathroom sink.
The European-style bidets (the standalone kind) are connected to the home’s plumbing in the same way a bathroom sink is. They’re basically small sinks (though some are vertical spray) that come with a faucet, basin, and P-trap (special piping).
Bidet water gets to your butt in the following sequence of events:
- Water is sourced from the city (typically clean but not always). The city’s water main sends treated pressurized water to your home. Non-electric units tend to spray water at a higher pressure compared to electric ones because the latter use an electric motor to send water through the nozzle. Anyway, water is sent through a supply line to your home.
- Some water is heated which kills a certain amount of bacteria. Some of the water arriving at the house is sent to the water heater while some is diverted to the cold water lines. As we’ll see, this doesn’t apply to most bidets (mostly the standalone kind). Also, it’s typically recommended that the heater be set to certain temperatures to kill various pathogens (e.g. 135 and 140°F to kill legionella).
- Most bidets receive water straight from the supply lines. Like a sink, standalone bidets would receive both hot and cold water. Non-electric bidets (attachments and sprayers) with special plumbing connections would also receive water from both hot and cold lines. Most non-electric models only receive water from the cold service lines that feed the toilet. Before making it to the toilet, the cold water is diverted to the bidet.
- Some electric bidets filter the incoming water. Electric bidets also receive water that would’ve gone to the toilet. The difference is that they come with plumbing connections that filter the water before sending it to the bidet.
Do Bidets Use Toilet Water?
Some potential bidet users want to know if there’s ever an instance in which bidet water comes from the toilet.
Bidet water never comes from the toilet. This goes for both electric and non-electric bidets. Each bidet comes with a Y-connector (or T-connector) that diverts water before it gets to the toilet. The water is rerouted to the seat or attachment before being sent through the nozzle.
I’m not sure what people have in mind when they picture a bidet using toilet water, but you can rest assured that water is not diverted from the toilet bowl and rerouted to the wand.
Does Bidet Water Come From the Tank?
I want to be thorough, so here’s another related question. I’d imagine that tank water, while off-putting, would be less of a turnoff than the prospect of bidets using water straight from the bowl.
Bidet water does not come from the tank. In fact, water that would have otherwise gone to the toilet tank is rerouted to the bidet. From the shutoff valve, water is sent through a supply hose to a Y-connector that routes some water to the bidet and the rest to the tank.
I’m not sure where the rumor started that bidets use tank water, but I’d imagine it has to do with how both the tank and the bidet get water from the same source: the cold water service lines via the shutoff valve located next to the toilet.
A Note on Feminine Hygiene
If I could think of one population that could benefit the most from a bidet that uses filtered water, it would be women. At least, in cases where one isn’t sure how clean the water is in a certain location.
Women often use the bidet for general frontal cleansing and some find it useful for douching. Some feminine hygiene protocols call for longer sessions which means more exposure of the perennial region to water that may or may not be clean.
Bides are generally considered safe for both men and women, but some female users have reported infections that may or may not have been caused by bidet use (source). It’s thought that the small association may be due to anatomical abnormalities in those who reported the issues.
All else equal, washing with water is more hygienic than using paper but a washing session is only as hygienic as the water that’s being used. And, if one were to use dirty water, it would defeat the purpose of using a bidet in the first place.
As I covered in the article on the best bidets for women, gals are at a higher risk than guys for developing UTIs so being extra careful to use clean water is especially important.
Ways Modern Bides Help Ensure the Water Is Clean
A related question I get from time to time is whether bidets tend to get poop on them. It’s a great question. With modern bidets, there is a nozzle that’s permanently located INSIDE the toilet and that shoots water from underneath your buttocks.
It’s hard to imagine that the nozzle wouldn’t be regularly subjected to a rain of poo-contaminated water. If that were to happen, then bidet water wouldn’t clean. And there would be a sense in which you could say that bidets use toilet water.
Thankfully manufacturers have thought of this:
- Bidet wands are out of the way when you use the toilet. The wands are hidden inside the seat when you’re doing your business and only come out to clean when needed. When done, they immediately retreat into their housing.
- Modern bidets usually have self-cleaning wands. In the event the wand was to be soiled, it wouldn’t matter because most modern bidets have self-cleaning nozzles. This is especially true for the electric kind though many attachments have this feature as well. Also, certain wands are made of material that makes them antimicrobial which can also be helpful.
- A water filter. Bidet water is always clean when using an electric unit because electric bidets have water filters. The water provided by non-electric bidets is as clean as the water provided by the city or country in which they’re used. As we’ve seen with the Flint water crisis, that’s not always a good thing.
That should do it.
Bidet water isn’t dirty or unsafe. Bidets don’t use water from the toilet bowl or tank, but from the same water lines that supply other bathroom fixtures like the sink and shower. Also, bidets can be equipped with water filters to further ensure a hygienic experience when cleansing.
Anyway, it was an interesting question to answer, because people usually consider making the switch to a bidet precisely because they want a more thorough clean than what’s offered by toilet paper.
I’m sure you’re glad to hear that bidets don’t pull water from the tank. And I’m sure you’re thrilled that high-tech toilets don’t reroute poo that you dropped in the toilet bowl only to aim it right back at your butt.
The water used by electric bidets is always clean assuming you keep the filter current. The water used by non-electric bidets is as clean as the water that comes out of your faucet.
A water supply line is a water supply line. But, for whatever reason, it seems like the water that your home sends to the toilet (coming through the shutoff valve) would be dirtier than the water sent to the bathroom sink.
I know I’ve always thought twice before drinking water from the bathroom sink (filling up a cup) but have no hesitation to drink a glass full of water coming out of the kitchen sink. It makes no sense.
However, while most water is treated sufficiently by the city, some areas are known to have low-quality drinking water which means that some cities are less effective with their water treatment.
So, if you live in an area that is known to have bad drinking water, you’ll want to think about getting a bidet with a filter.
If you plan to do any deep cleaning (bidets for feminine hygiene or DIY enemas), then it’s extra important to make sure you’re using clean water.
Thanks for reading.