Bidet seat innovation: How it became the luxury hiding in plain sight

(BPT) – The coronavirus inspired shoppers to load their carts until they overflowed with toilet paper. However, the shopping frenzy and the shortage of supplies also inspired many to take a fresh look at a bathroom appliance they long ignored: the bidet seat.

Until then, most people had no idea that WASHLET-driven innovations like dryers, jets of warm water and heated seats existed, let alone could transform their lives. For those who are new to bidet seats and how they’ve evolved into a necessary luxury, here’s a brief history of how they came to be.

The traditional French solution: Bidets started appearing in the late 1600s to early 1700s in the palaces and chateaus of the French nobility as a more civilized method to clean up after using the chamber pot. Fast forward to the middle of the 20th century, and bidets earned a place as an essential fixture in bathrooms across Europe, South America and parts of Asia.

The U.S. stands alone: Despite its global reputation for modernization and redefining culture, the U.S stood alone as a bidet holdout. Americans didn’t have the space or the budgets to accommodate another bathroom fixture that required plumbing. Even if they encountered one on their travels, it didn’t win many converts. Jets of cold water, the inability to customize spray position and water pressure, and the challenge of drying off, all added up to an experience they found unpleasant. For these reasons, we stuck to good old toilet tissue.

Introducing Japanese innovation: WASHLET, developed by the Japanese plumbing company TOTO in 1980, combined the toilet seat and high-end bidet into a single appliance and added a number of unheard-of luxurious additions. First and foremost, they made it possible to get access to warm water to cleanse. Then, engineers worked tirelessly on the details. For example, they conducted many rounds of product testing to find the ideal angle at which water should spray from the wand, which extends from beneath the seat. (In case you wondered, it’s 43 degrees.) They added a heating element in the seat, and warm air to dry. These transformed the bidet from an unwieldy European relic to a sought-after luxury item, quickly catching on in Japan and other bidet-friendly nations. In fact, Japan’s Cabinet Office started tracking electronic bidet seat penetration as a way to gauge consumer confidence. In 2020, ownership reached 80.2%.

Unstoppable progress: Though Americans stuck to their standard toilet paper, which stayed relatively unchanged and may even seem primitive, WASHLET, introduced to U.S. consumers in 1989, cultivated its reputation of creating the ultimate, best-in-class experience by focusing on four major areas: cleanliness, comfort, convenience and ecology. For starters, TOTO pioneered an eco-friendly way to cleanse with Air-In Wonder Wave. The air-rich water droplets not only create a more pleasant washing experience, but water consumption is reduced by 30%. During use, the pulsating and oscillating cleansing massage gave people a way to personalize their cleansing ritual. In between uses, TOTO engineers also developed ways to reduce toilet scrubbing time, as PREMIST sprays the bowl before each use and EWATER+ continuously cleans both the wand and bowl automatically before and afterwards.

One of the downsides of innovation is that it inevitably inspires imitators, and it’s no different for WASHLET. When it comes time to choose, TOTO is the trusted, most durable brand that stands by its high-quality products with superior after-sales service. If you need help, simply reach out to a technical support team member either by phone or chat. To learn more, visit


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