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Bidet Etiquette Around the World: Dos and Don’ts for Travelers

Bidet Etiquette Around the World: Dos and Don’ts for Travelers

Posted by Dave S. on 13th May 2024

As bidets become increasingly popular globally, it's crucial for international travelers to understand local customs related to their use. Whether you’re a first-time user or just curious about the cultural nuances of bidet etiquette, this guide offers practical advice to help you navigate the dos and don’ts of using bidets across different countries.

Understanding Bidet Use: A Global Perspective

A bidet, which may come as a standalone fixture, an integrated toilet seat, or a handheld sprayer, offers significant environmental and hygienic benefits. By using a stream of water for cleaning, bidets provide a more sustainable and gentle alternative to toilet paper.

Bidet Etiquette in Europe

Italy: Almost every Italian bathroom is equipped with a bidet. Remember, after using it, you should dry yourself with the dedicated small towel provided or toilet paper before leaving the bathroom.

France: While not as ubiquitous as in Italy, bidets in France are often considered a sign of a well-appointed home. Use them as intended—cleanse after using the toilet, and don't use them for any other purposes like washing feet.

Spain and Portugal: Here, the bidet is common in hotels and new homes. In Spain, especially, it’s important to ensure you leave the bidet as you found it, clean and dry for the next user.

Bidet Etiquette in Asia

Japan: Japanese bidets, or 'washlets', are high-tech wonders with multiple settings. Take a moment to understand the control panel (often with English translations) before use. Avoid playing with the controls excessively.

South Korea: Similar to Japan, South Korea enjoys a reputation for sophisticated bidet systems. Always check settings and use gently; start with lower pressure to avoid surprises.

India: In India, bidets often come in the form of a handheld spray or a jet in the toilet. Always use your left hand to operate the sprayer, as the left hand is traditionally seen as the cleaning hand.

Bidet Etiquette in the Middle East

In the Middle East, the shattaf, or handheld bidet sprayer, is common. Remember to use it with your left hand and rinse it off before putting it back in place to maintain cleanliness and respect cultural practices.

Bidet Etiquette in the Americas

United States: The use of bidets is slowly catching on, with more high-end and renovated bathrooms featuring them. If you encounter one, use it as discreetly as possible and ensure you leave it clean.

Latin America: Countries like Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico feature bidets more extensively. In these regions, as in Europe, bidet use is straightforward, and cleanliness is paramount.

Tips for First-Time Bidet Users Abroad

If unsure how to operate a bidet, especially in a hotel room, consider asking for a demonstration when you check in, or look up instructional videos online specific to the country you're visiting.

Common Mistakes to Avoid with Bidets

  • Don’t use the bidet as a toilet: It’s designed for post-toilet cleaning, not for the disposal of waste.
  • Avoid using too much toilet paper: It can lead to plumbing issues, especially in areas with sensitive systems.
  • Watch the water pressure: Start low to avoid splashing or discomfort.

Conclusion

Understanding and respecting local customs with bidet use can enhance your travel experience, reduce culture shock, and show respect for the practices of the places you visit. Embrace these cultural experiences as an enriching part of your journey.

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