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A handheld bidet is a portable version of a bathroom plumbing fixture that is typically used for personal hygiene for both men and women after a bowel movement or sex. It resembles the sprayer on an outdoor garden hose and works in similar fashion, although the spray is directed upward toward the user’s bottom instead of straight out from the sprayer. The spray also is less forceful than the sprayer of a garden hose. A handheld bidet gives its user a personal, gentle spray shower while he or she sits on the toilet.
Permanent bidet fixtures and the portable, handheld bidets are commonplace in bathrooms across southern Europe as well as many Asian, African and South American countries. They are not as common in North American bathrooms because of the widespread custom of using toilet tissue paper. Parents of infants have found another use for handheld bidets. They can use them to rinse out soiled cloth diapers.
The handheld bidet can be connected to a toilet’s water supply and hang on the commode’s tank, ready to be picked up and sprayed when the need arises. Some handheld bidet models connect to the bathroom sink’s faucet or the bathtub faucet. These models have a hose that reaches to the commode. Many users of handheld bidets prefer the models that connect to a faucet over the type that connects to the toilet’s water supply because the water’s temperature can be adjusted until it is comfortably warm. The handheld bidets that are connected to the toilet's water supply spray cold water only.
Smaller, portable travel versions of the handheld bidet do not connect to any water supply but instead are equipped with a small cylindrical tank that can be filled with tap water. The stream of water that comes out when a button is pushed has less pressure behind it than the models that are connected to the permanent water supply, and they typically have a single stream of water instead of spraying like a shower. Even so, these models are popular with travelers who aren’t sure whether their lodging accommodations will include a bidet of any kind. Another plus is that the water in the travel handheld models can be at a comfortable temperature for their user, and they are small enough that they take up little space in luggage.
The word "bidet" is French in origin and is literally translated to mean "pony," because most people sit on a bidet fixture the way they would sit on a pony. Permanent bidet fixtures are often placed adjacent to the bathroom stool in roomy bathrooms. The handheld bidet is a practical solution for smaller bathrooms that cannot accommodate both fixtures.
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