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Where were bidets invented? The bidet origin for Americans

best bidet

Where were bidets invented? The bidet origin for Americans

best bidet

Many Americans are skeptical of bidets. If they’ve traveled to Europe, they might have sneered at one and returned from the bathroom with a litany of questions and insults: 

  • What is that? A urinal?
  • These Europeans are weird.
  • No wonder we broke off and founded our own country.

However, you don’t know what you don’t know, and even though bidets were a source of unearned patriotic pride and exceptionalism (this is the country that never fully adopted the metric system), the tide has slowly begun to turn. Some American traveler in France or Spain or Africa or India must have decided to take the leap and actually try something before making fun of it. What do you think that first American bidet experience was? Do you think they were questioning themself as they lowered their backside closer and closer to that running stream of warm water? (“This is so dumb…this is going to be stupid…this is…WAY BETTER!”)

Now that the secret is out and bidets have begun to flood the American market, many are wondering where this whole device came from. Who invented the bidet? Why did it sweep the world? What was its trajectory from idea to the new number one device when we’re doing a number two? Read on for the history of our bum’s superhero. 

The Bidet Origin

The original bidet’s origin is still a bit of a mystery, as sources seem to vary on who the inventor of the first bidet actually was. However, various sources dictate It likely started with French furniture maker, Christophe de Rosiers, who believed to have introduced the bidet to wealthy French aristocrats in the late 1600s. (Side note: when researching the bidet, one of the saddest discoveries is that the inventor didn’t have a name that matched his invention. Wouldn’t it have been better if he was called Christophe de Deriere or Ivan Tushman or Jean LePeach?)

Christophe served as a companion to the chamber pot. This first bidet resembled a simple basin mounted on wooden legs, designed for intimate washing. The name “bidet” itself derives from the French word for “pony” or “little horse” – a nod to the straddling position adopted when using the device. Some also suggest that this name came from the way French cavalrymen would utilize similar basins to soothe their sore undercarriages after long horseback rides.

With the upper classes increasingly emphasizing personal hygiene, the bidet’s charm wasn’t confined to France for long. It soon spread throughout Western Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, becoming a common fixture in the bathrooms of the affluent.

Why Bidets never caught on in America

Despite its popularity across the globe, the bidet initially failed to take root in America. You’re probably asking, “Why did bidets never catch on in America?” There are a few reasons. First, there was the country’s national addiction to toilet paper. Out in pioneer territory, it was difficult to justify lugging around a piece of furniture just to clean yourself (take a look at a 19th century photograph and you’ll see that cleanliness wasn’t a high priority), and it was infinitely easier to carry a copy of the Sears Roebuck catalog – the precursor to modern toilet paper until the company started printing on glossy paper in the late 19th century (no, that’s not a joke).

There was also a general reluctance to discuss any bodily functions in America. The puritanical streak that infected urban and rural areas deemed anything having to do with the “water closet” as ungodly and beneath man’s spiritual ideal (because nothing is more sinful than talking about something everyone does once or twice a day). This unfortunate association between bidets and immorality continued into the 20th century when American soldiers encountered bidets in European brothels during World War II. Upon returning, Americans associated bidets with uncleanliness (which is really weird considering how much cleaner bidets are). 

Arnold Cohen — Mr. Bidet

At this point you’re probably wondering “who invented the bidet in America”? Enter Arnold Cohen. Motivated by a desire to aid his ailing father, he was an American inventor who in the 1960s designed the first bidet-toilet seat combination. He founded the American Bidet Company with hopes of revolutionizing American bathroom habits. Though Cohen’s innovations didn’t ignite widespread acceptance in the U.S. (bidets were still considered “dirty”), a Japanese company licensed his design, refined it, and over the following decades, bidets became a staple in over 80% of Japanese households.

Conclusion

Today, the bidet is finally making its mark in America and leading the charge is…well, us! Swan Toilets! We’re a company known for cutting-edge bathroom technology. Our hands-free smart bidets feature heated seats, adjustable water temperatures, self-cleaning nozzles, night lights, automatic lids, and smart-app connectivity. These luxury fixtures are converting more Americans every day, proving that the bidet’s journey from a strange curiosity to an essential part of modern hygiene is nearly complete.

Beyond mere luxury, bidets offer significant health and hygiene benefits that are drawing more users to their cause. By providing gentle and effective cleaning with water, bidets are far superior to toilet paper for maintaining personal cleanliness. They are especially beneficial for those suffering from hemorrhoids, as the water stream is less irritating than wiping with dry paper. (Another side note: the first commercially produced toilet paper claimed to be good for hemorrhoids…liars.) Additionally, bidets can help prevent uncomfortable urinary tract infections and other hygiene-related conditions, making them a healthier choice overall.

The comfort provided by bidets – through features like warm water and heated seats – enhances the bathroom experience, turning a routine activity into a moment of relaxation and self-care. This combination of health benefits, enhanced hygiene, and unparalleled comfort is what transforms the bidet from a simple bathroom fixture into a superhero of the lavatory. The bidet will soon become an indispensable part of American bathrooms, changing our daily habits for the better.

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