Today’s article answers the puzzling question: why don’t bidets have seats? If a sink and toilet were to get together, the offspring would probably look something like a traditional bidet—what’s known as a standalone bidet.
You probably know by now that you’re supposed to somehow sit on this low-mounted sink, but why on earth isn’t there a seat that resembles what you’d find on a traditional toilet?
I had a hunch but wanted to reach out to a few bidet manufacturers just to make sure. After asking several experts, I got the same response every time.
Some bidets do have seats but most don’t for design reasons. With standalone bidets, a toilet-like seat would apparently interfere with the faucet and vacuum breaker located in the back of the unit. Also, we don’t do our business on bidets, so there’s no need for a protective barrier.
I’m not so sure I buy the first part of the explanation. As for the design issue, the supposed reason that bidets don’t have seats is that raising and lowering the seat would be impractical. This seems illogical for a few reasons.
Here’s an example of a response I received from one manufacturer after asking:
You may be thinking, as I did back when I first started learning about bidets, that a simple tweak of the seat design could easily overcome this issue.
And, sure enough, some models have seats with a special hinge. But, they’re the exception.
The truth is, standalone bidets probably lack seats for several reasons, each of which we’ll get into below.
So you know, there are tons of bidet varieties on the market—from standalone bidets to attachments, bidet seats, handheld sprayers, and travel bidets. In this article, I’ll be using “bidet” interchangeably with the traditional standalone kind.
Bidets Have Fixed Seats (Kind of)
As in, a portion of the bidet is designed to be sat upon—namely, the stool (the rim of the basin). It’s just that the sitting portion is not adjustable (can’t be lifted up), so we don’t think of it as a seat.
This is, in part, due to the fact that the faucet gets in the way. As mentioned above, a workaround would be easy. That is, you could design an adjustable seat that could accommodate the presence of a faucet at the back of the bidet—and, as mentioned, some models have this feature.
But an adjustable seat is an uncommon feature on traditional bidets, not only because they get in the way of the faucet, but because they’re just not needed. We relieve ourselves in regular toilets splashing urine and poo-contaminated water, which is why the toilet rim is thought to be unsanitary.
Anyway, just know that the rim of a bidet basin is designed to be sat upon. And, if you look closely, you’ll notice that this rim (the sitting portion) is often much wider than the rim of a toilet.
Bidets Don’t Need Toilet-Like Seats
Basically, it comes down to the fact that we don’t do our business with bidets.
Traditional bidets may look like toilets, but they don’t replace them—rather, they’re located next to commodes so that they can be used immediately after.
This is relevant because toilet seats were designed to prevent our butt and genitals from contacting areas of the commode that could be contaminated with urine.
We don’t pee or poop directly into a bidet, so there’s no need for a protective barrier.
If men didn’t do number one standing up, toilet seats would probably be non-adjustable—it would just be a wider rim like those you’ll find on many modern standalone bidets.
Many Users Don’t Sit on Bidets: They Hover.
Many bidet users choose to hover over, instead of sit on, standalone bidets.
Sure, sitting or straddling the bidet is the most common of using a bidet. In fact, the word “bidet” traces back to the French word for “pony” for this very reason. But, hovering is often needed with traditional bidets because it gives you more precision in getting the water where it needs to go.
Traditional bidets come in several designs and you could categorize them in any number of ways.
One useful distinction is whether the bidet has a water jet.
- Horizontal spray or over-the-rim bidets. These have a jetless basin. All standalone bidets are considered basins, but with this category, the basin is the main feature. The stopper is plugged so that the porcelain structure can be filled up like a sink. In this way, you can manually wash the soiled area with your hands. Alternatively, you can position yourself over the faucet while water rushes into the basin, allowing for the desired area to be cleaned with the incoming stream of water. Also, the plug allows for using the bidet for a sitz bath.
- Vertical spray or ascending spray bidets. These also go by French bidets. If you’ve seen several traditional bidet designs at this point, you’ve probably noticed that some come with a water jet. These are often called “French bidets”. Instead of the small wands that you’ll encounter on newer bidet seats and attachments (the varieties of bidets more common in the US), these look more like the water jets you’d see in a hot tub. As mentioned in the article on bidet plumbing requirements, vertical spray bidets usually require a vacuum breaker which further gets in the way of a seat.
Unlike modern bidet seats and attachments, which shoot water from a retractable jet, standalone bidets send water into or up from the bottom of the basin. I’m sure designs vary, but the kind I’m describing here is standard.
With this variety, many users don’t sit on the bidet at all but hovers over it. Hence, a seat isn’t needed.
Because the water is shot up in a straight line from the center bottom of the basin, simply straddling the bidet wouldn’t allow for the accuracy needed to clean the desired area.
When it comes to aiming a bidet, it’s often necessary to hover over the bidet while adjusting your body over the jet stream to get the water to the right area.
This is one reason why the newer high-tech bidets (those designed to fit your toilet seat) are so popular. A good model will allow you to aim the water directly at the desired area, and many designs allow for pressure and temperature control.
As mentioned above, whether the bidet has a jet or not, the faucet can be used to clean the desired area directly. This, too, will often require hovering to position your body over the water stream—instead of sitting directly on the bidet.
Hopefully, this article solved the mystery of the seatless toilet/sink-looking contraption.
If you’ve visited Europe at any point, you may have run across these in one or more hotel rooms.
When the uninitiated encounter these, they usually leave the restroom wondering how on earth they were supposed to have used it.
For one, the standalone bidet design doesn’t allow for a traditional seat to be attached at the back of the basin, because the faucet gets in the way.
Secondly, there’s really no need for a seat that adjusts up and down. We only need them on toilets because guys are messy and get pee all over the rim.
Finally, if you don’t want to sit, you can always hover. While the bidet was designed to be sat on, or straddled, many choose to hover over the basin.
While standalone bidets are thought to be sanitary, some folks are hesitant to use them. Maybe it’s too much like sitting on a commode with the seat up.
If the idea of purchasing a traditional bidet intrigues you, but you’re not sure you want to sit directly on the rim, this shouldn’t be a problem.
You’ll find that many standalone bidet models do have a wider sitting area, with dimensions close to that of a toilet seat.
However, if you’re looking to purchase a bidet for home use, there are better options. Traditional bidets allow for temperature control, but that’s about it.
Most modern bidet seats and attachments have retractable jets that you can aim—and some are self-cleaning. They’re cheaper and more convenient as they can fit your current toilet and can be installed easily.
Anyway, I hope that answers the question. Thanks for reading.