There are many theories about who invented the bidet. The most point towards the 18th century in France. Bidet is actually French for pony. This refers to the way that you are sitting on a bidet. It also refers to why bidets got popular at that point in time. Using a bidet after you sat on a pony or horse for a whole day can feel great. Others argue that similar systems were in use in other parts of the world. Let’s discuss it in more detail.
Bidets are a type of water sprayer that functions as an alternative to toilet paper.
It is difficult to tell who was the first person that invented this. There were probably several people working on this idea, they were improving upon each other’s work. Christophe Des Rosiers is often picked as the inventor of the bidet as we have proof that he manufactured them. The first bidets didn’t have running water and were decorated beautifully. They weren’t widely spread as they were expensive devices.
The first steps for the bidet
It was only reserved for the upper echelons of society. Napoleon owned one and he really enjoyed using it. It was a turbulent time in France at that point and when they eventually lost in Waterloo, their influence diminished. This hampered the spread of this device and it remained popular in France for a while.
Later on, France started to rule other countries and they brought the bidet with them. This is why it is still popular in other countries. It also became popular because France was trading with several countries. During the Second World War, Americans came in contact with bidets and this has inspired some of them to develop a similar system (see below for more info about this).
The real inventor of the bidets?
Bidets used to be a type of tub and have evolved a lot over time. Nowadays we have bidets that have running water and are integrated with toilets. The first patent for bidets as we know it today was issued by John Harvey Kellogg in the 1920s. Another patent was requested by Arnold Cohen in the sixties. This was sold to Toto, a Japanese company.
Toto imported this design to Japan, where it became very popular. It is there that it got further improved by engineers of TOTO in the eighties. The bidet was made more compact so that it could fit on most toilets. The systems started to get a remote and drying function. They got produced on a large scale and this allowed a lot of households to get one. We can’t underestimate the improvement in manufacturability as this has a big impact on the price.
Adding running water to a bidet can make it more comfortable and this is why it only started to spread quite recently. Spraying cold water over your bottom is no fun and the combination of electricity and running water makes bidets a lot better.
Most homes have only installed running water and electricity in the past century. A lot of people are so used to toilet paper that they don’t want to make the shift to a bidet anymore. It is quite difficult to try a bidet in a store so convincing people of the advantages can be difficult. Habits are hard to change and it can take several decades or even centuries before we might see bidets replace toilet paper.
A hot water spray is more fun than a cold water spray but this needs a more expensive system. Bidets can be bought for as low as 30 USD but into several hundreds of dollars if you want more advanced systems. Installing electricity next to your toilet also has some disadvantages so not every house is equipped for installing a bidet. This can require expensive work to get it updated.
As you can see, there are several people that have contributed to creating bidets as we know them today. An invention is often attributed to one person to keep things simple but often multiple people refine a product over time. The same is true about the bidet.
The future of bidets
Bidets have evolved a lot over time. We can fully expect that they will improve in the future as well. They might become self-cleaning and add more comfort such as temperature preferences and spray the water more efficiently.
Companies are trying to make it easier to use a bidet. Big communication campaigns are used to convince people of the advantages of this item. More than 80% of Japanese households have a bidet already. If toilet paper gets sold out more often, we could see people flock to bidets as well.
Bidets are great for people that are less agile as you don’t have to wipe with toilet paper anymore. This could make them more popular as people are getting older. Installing one has become significantly easier in the past few years so it is possible that it might become more popular to own one.
Bidets have been freestanding next to the toilet but this took up a lot of space. This is why they have been integrated into toilets. With the advent of new technologies, it is possible to make the bidets even cleaner. This can make it possible to hide it. This can allow people to use toilet paper when they want to and get the sprayer nozzle out when they prefer to use a bidet. This can also make it easier to clean and maintain the bidet.
It is clear that people still will need toilets in the future so bidets and toilet paper will have their role in our society. Some people are experimenting with air and other liquids to see if this is more convenient but more research needs to be done on this.