This article answers the question: what are bidet showers? Some of the terminology around bidets can be confusing and the term “bidet shower” is one such example. Is it a bidet you use in the shower? A shower you give yourself with a bidet (like a sitz bath)? Or just an alternative term for handheld bidets?
Most of the time, “bidet shower” is just another term for a handheld bidet. I.e., the kind used to manually spray soiled skin after a bowel movement. The term bidet shower can also be used to describe a handheld bidet that’s installed in the shower instead of on the toilet.
Bidet showers resemble the handheld sprayers in kitchen sinks.
What we’ll do here in this article is go over the different types of bidet showers, their definitions, how they’re used, and the pros and cons of each.
Keep in mind, because they’re the same, I’ll be using “handheld bidet” and “bidet shower” interchangeably throughout the article.
The Handheld Bidet aka Bidet Shower
Maybe you’ve been looking into getting a standalone bidet (the traditional kind that looks like a mini sink), but don’t want the deal with the hassle of installing the unit yourself or the price that comes with having one installed.
Or maybe you don’t like the idea of taking a good chunk of the floor space in your bathroom by installing what’s essentially a second sink.
The bidet shower may be the answer. They’re usually considered more effective than standalone bidets, easy to install, and a fraction of the price—some go for as little as $15 (though you’ll probably want a decent model to ensure it’s made of quality parts).
Bidet Showers vs. Other Types of Bidets
Disadvantages of Bidet Showers
Bidet showers shoot water, and that’s about it. But, by far, the best bidets on the market these days come in the form of electric seats, attachments (non-electric), and toilet/bidet combos.
Seats replace the seat/lid fixture on regular toilets, while bidet toilets come as an entire commode with a built-in bidet.
Finally, attachments don’t replace parts on your existing toilets but are attached just beneath the existing seat and lid.
Modern bidets provide a range of features from self-cleaning wands and bowls to temperature control, dryers for your butt, deodorizers, and even heated seats.
Of the modern bidets, it’s the seats and toilets that tend to provide the most features while attachments provide the fewest.
Bidet showers, while not as good as modern bidets on the market, come with a much cheaper price tag. Obviously, it varies. For example, the most expensive handheld bidet may cost more than the cheapest bidet seat.
Bidet Showers Shoot Cold Water
This isn’t always the case.
Some decide to tap into the plumbing by hooking the bidet up to the hot service line (the line that carries water from the heater to warm water appliances in the house).
But, this requires some know-how and may even necessitate making permanent changes to the property–something off-limits to renters.
Some handheld bidets come with attachments that allow you to hook the supply hose up to the sink or shower, allowing you to use warm water from the faucet.
But, the warm water attachment tends not to be a feature, because most find it more convenient not having to hook the bidet up to a faucet every time they want to use it.
Most handheld bidets come with a supply hose and a T-connector so that you can route water to the sprayer that would otherwise be fed to the tank.
You turn the valve to get water to the sprayer, do a self-cleanse, and switch the valve back to allow flushing.
Advantages of Bidet Showers
Handheld bidets are considered minimalist, but offer some benefits.
Cheaper Price Tag
While bidet showers come with the fewest features of any bidet on the market, they also come with the cheapest price tag. Again, it’s not uncommon to find them online for under 20 bucks.
Not bad if you consider that some bidet toilet combos go for as much as 4-5K.
Bidet seats are generally considered affordable, with a good model usually going for around $300. My favorite bidet seat is the TOTO C100. Seats offer the same features as bidet toilets, but without having to pay for a tank and bowl.
But, while more affordable than entire bidet toilets, seats still cost significantly more than handheld bidet showers.
So, if you’re looking to keep costs to a minimum, the bidet sprayer is the way to go. You can still get a great cleanse.
Warm water isn’t necessary for a good cleaning. And, as mentioned, if warm water is important to you, there are a few sprayers on the market that can be attached to your bathroom sink.
Convenience and Floor Space
Of all the bidets, the handheld sprayers are the easiest to install.
Standalone bidets are the least convenient because they have several plumbing requirements. In case you’re new to the subject, standalone bidets are washbasins that are installed next to toilets that resemble a small sink.
You basically do your business on the toilet, wipe a time or two, and make your way over to the bidet and cleanse yourself manually—usually by cupping your hands to deliver water or situating your body so that you can run water directly on the soiled area.
Also, some choose to fill the basin up by plugging the drain. In this way, you can give your bum a mini bath.
Also, some standalone bidets have a vertical spray function. They shoot water straight up from the basin. They’re sometimes referred to as French bidets.
Because a standalone bidet is basically a sink, they do allow for warm water flow.
But, because they’re a sink, you have to install them like one. That’s right, they come with their own plumbing—a p-trap, rings, seals, gaskets, etc. You can either fork over the money for an installation, or go through the hassle of installing it yourself.
Standalone bidets also take up floor space.
Anyone can install a bidet shower. Setting one up requires no expertise and, by extension, you’ll never have to pay to have them installed.
A lot of people wonder how bidets aim. For most bidets, some of the aiming is accomplished with body positioning.
Folks that use vertical spray bidets often have to hover over the water fountain that shoots up from the bowl.
With bidet seats, attachments, and toilets, there is less strategic body positioning involved, but you still have to meet the water stream halfway (figuratively), by bending a bit or spreading the cheeks.
With bidet showers, you deliver the water straight to the desired area. The aiming takes place with the use of the handheld nozzle.
On a related note, this is great but makes a handheld sprayer less than the ideal bidet for senior adults and others with limited mobility.
I’ve used this variety in the past when traveling—they’re common in Southeast Asia—and I can tell you they give as thorough a clean as any bidet on the market.
Some Double as Travel Bidets
The most common type of handheld bidet on the market has you use a T-connector to route the hose to the water supply that feeds the toilet.
So they’re a fixture in the bathroom because they attach to the current toilet system tapping into the water supply in the same way seats and bidet-toilet combos do.
A second kind comes with attachments that allow you to hook the supply hose to the spigot on your current sink.
But, a third kind of hand held bidet is portable, allowing you to take them with you wherever you go. They pressurize water using a little pump that pulls water from a small bucket or bowl (anything you can put water in) delivering the water to the nozzle.
The portable sprayer I always recommend is the MyPortaWash Model-T Portable Rechargeable Bidet. It comes with its own collapsible water container you can fill anywhere.
One other benefit of this kind is that it requires zero tampering with the current toilet setup.
While it is usually perfectly fine to install modern bidet seats and attachments in apartments and other rental properties, some renters are hesitant to install anything–even if the installation is temporary and reversible.
So, for renters who are hesitant to use other types of bidets, portable units like the one mentioned above are a great option.
Another travel bidet I like is the TOTO Handy Washlet. It’s smaller, more portable, and doesn’t involve a hose or anything.
For more info on the types of bidets suitable for apartments, make sure to check out the article on using bidets in rental properties.
Bidets for Shower Use (The Other Kind of Bidet Shower)
People use handheld cleansers for a number of applications. In stores and online they’re often advertised as being suitable for use in the shower and are sometimes marketed as being bidet enema and douche kits.
- Periodic cleansing. For the most part, bidets are used to clean the butt and genital areas after using the restroom. But some folks prefer using a handheld bidet to perform a daily, or periodic, cleanse of the butt and genitals, instead of cleaning after each use of the toilet. If you fall into the latter camp, using your handheld bidet in the shower may make the most sense.
- Female hygiene. Douching with a handheld bidet is quite popular despite most health institutions advising against it. This is gone into in detail in the article on the best bidets for women. If someone purchased a sprayer for this reason, and not to cleanse with each use of the toilet, the shower would probably be ideal. Douching sessions usually aren’t performed multiple times per day (2-3 sessions per week is common), so the shower is a good location.
- DIY enemas. A bidet can give you an enema, a procedure that involves delivering water directly to the rectum—usually for general cleansing or to help with constipation. Like with douching, they’re not performed multiple times per day, so it makes sense to do them in the shower.
- Replacement for a detachable showerhead. Some folks like the idea of a detachable showerhead, but don’t want to go through the trouble of changing out their current fixed showerhead. Some handheld bidets come with attachments that allow you to hook the supply hose up to the neck of the showerhead.
That should do it for now.
The terminology around bidet showers can be confusing. The confusion comes from the fact that handheld bidets are marketed under several different names.
It’s not uncommon to see product listings that read something like “Handheld bidet shower, portable sprayer, vegetable washer, diaper sprayer”. I’m not exaggerating.
The different names used to describe the device comes from the fact that a sprayer is a sprayer. They don’t vary much in design.
Whether you’re cleaning dishes, vegetables, diapers, or your bum, the device is all the same: a water supply hose, nozzle/handle, and t-connector.
To add to the confusion, bidet sprayers are often used in the shower where they serve as a detachable showerhead that can be used to deliver water to different areas of the body.
They can also be used in the shower to perform deep cleaning sessions that only need to be done periodically.
That’s it for now. Thanks for reading.