In the great list of ways 2020 would be reasonably post-apocalyptic, we have to admit that "fighting off roving gangs of toilet paper hoarders" didn't feature prominently in our predictions.
But here we are in 2021, still refusing to abandon tolerable bathroom hygiene, and searching for answers we never knew we needed, like "How do you spell bidet?" and "Aren't bidets those things that... y'know?" along with "How much is a bidet, anyway?" The answer to the first question is, we hope, clear by now. As for the second question: yes, bidets spray water onto your bum, cleaning it after you use the restroom.
However, delving into the question of "How much does a bidet cost?" is tricky. You can spend as little as $11, or more than $500. And you can expect to pay less for a bidet attachment than you would for a bidet seat. We explain what you get at each price point below, so hold onto your butts!
Why Buy a Bidet?
Before we go over all the different types of bidets, let's talk about why you'd want to make this investment in the first place.
Yes, the toilet paper supply shortage fueled by the coronavirus pandemic is basically over now. So is there a good reason to buy a bidet aside from future toilet paper panics? In an NPR interview, Kate Knibbs from Wired gives this nigh-unassailable hygiene argument: "if a bird pooped on you, you wouldn't wipe it off with a dry towel. You would wipe it off with water."
Even a decade ago, Scientific American made the green case for bidets: switching from toilet paper to butt baths would reduce the environmental impact of the toilet paper industry, which could save 15 million trees annually (according to 2009 statistics).
You can also look at buying a bidet as a matter of personal economy. We've seen hand-held bidet attachments go for as little as $11 — how long would it take you to spend that much on toilet paper? This Yahoo article makes the sage point that owning a bidet doesn't eliminate the need for some toilet paper (nor should you want it to). However, the savings do begin to immediately add up.
What Kind of Bidet Should You Buy?
Before discussing prices in detail, our first task is to figure out the taxonomy of the bidet. Full stand-alone bidets exist, but for the purposes of this article, we'll focus on upgrades for your existing toilet situation. Broadly speaking, we're looking at four categories:
- Bidet Attachment: The most barebones way of adding a bidet to your bathroom, this version attaches to your existing toilet seat. It likely won't boast features any more exciting than adjustable water pressure. It has the advantage of not requiring an outlet.
- Basic Bidet Seat: This next tier is a full replacement for your existing toilet seat. At this point, you'll start seeing things like adjustable water and seat temperature. Most will require an outlet, although more economical, nonelectric models tap into your sink's hot water pipes instead.
- Mid-Tier Bidet Seat: If your bathroom budget can accommodate a fancier bidet seat, you'll get the benefit of luxuries like air dryers, deodorizers, massage functions, and more extensive control panels.
- Top-Tier Bidet Seat: The best of the best. If you've ever longed for wall-mounted button pads and remote controls with endless options in your bathroom, these bidet systems are where you should be looking. You'll pay for the privilege, of course.
How Much Is a Bidet Seat?
You've read this far, and you've decided to take the toilet plunge. So, how much does a bidet cost? Let's work backwards through the tiers.
Assuming you're flush with cash and want the Rolls-Royce of bidets, you're spending upwards of $350 at least, although stand-alone models typically run closer to $1,000 and beyond. Some great high-end bidets have seen far lower prices, but temper your expectations for now. Mid-tier bidet models will likely be in the $150 to $350 range, and basic bidet seat prices can be as low as $29 but as high as $129.
The top three bidet tiers are also the models that require the most work to install. For one thing, they'll require some plumbing work to connect to the toilet supply line — which always introduces the possibility of leaks. And as we previously noted, most bidet seats will need an outlet for power. The fanciest bidets will have control panels that mount to the wall.
According to Wirecutter, these bidet models have other trade-offs, like reducing the size of the toilet seat hole, and introducing an angle to the seat that leans you forward.
How Much Is a Bidet Attachment?
We've regularly listed bidet attachments in the $20-to-$30 range before. Now that the rush has calmed some, you can expect to find them in that range, but we're also still seeing well-known brands and top picks go for around $50.
Installing a bidet attachment is massively simplified compared to other bidets. Typically, you just remove your current toilet seat, affix the attachment, and put the seat back. That accessibility makes bidet attachments a great starter if you're not sure where you stand (or sit) on owning a bidet.
Bidet Prices Are Still High
We might not be living in 2020 anymore, but the demand for bidets is still high. If popular bidet models aren't already sold out, then they're selling for a good deal more than we've seen previously.
Wirecutter's top bidet pick, the Toto Washlet C200, dropped down to $275 in April 2019. At the time of publication, we couldn't find it for less than $400. That's a top-tier model — no surprise that it's expensive — but the price tag is an indication that the demand for bidets continues.
It's reasonable to expect bidet prices to start dropping again in a few months. If you're not chomping at the butt, er, bit to buy a bidet, think about waiting until we start seeing more bidets at Staff Pick prices.
Where to Buy a Bidet
If you're on the lookout for a bidet, it's best to shop around. You can find them at practically any major store, including home improvement vendors like Home Depot and Lowe's, warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam's Club, and big box stores like Target and Walmart.
Just be sure to investigate which bidet types your bathroom setup can handle — you don't want to spend hundreds on a fancy electric seat, only to find that you can't plug it in and use it. Additionally, don't forget to check return policies. Even if you're sold on a bidet, you want to make sure you can return it to the store if issues arise.
Readers, do you own a bidet? Are you looking to buy one? Are bidets just a passing fad — merely butt-cheek chic? Share your bidet thoughts (and puns!) in the comments below.