Sunday, August 30, 2009

Why Haven't These Caught On in America?

Toilets are an interesting phenomenon around the world. In my travels I've come to see that toilets can vary widely in design and how they are used. I think we've all been in filthy disgusting toilets, when there was absolutely no other option, where we were afraid to make contact with any surface for fear of catching something deadly. And then there are those beautiful spic and span bathrooms that looked so clean you'd swear you could almost eat off the floor, although I wouldn't recommend it. In the states, people are used to the comfortable flip down seat, that flips up for men to use while standing up. I saw my first bidet in a hotel in England and I wasn't exactly quite sure how to use the thing. In Germany, I was surprised when I had no choice at the time but to use a public facility that basically seemed like an open can with no seat on it at all. Even those compact toilets in airplanes are design wonders which fit in that small space, but at least they have a seat and that loud sonic swoosh when you flush. And here in Saudi Arabia was my first exposure to squatting toilets that are essentially a hole in the floor. Attempting to use one of those while wearing an abaya with long pants underneath requires some acrobatic abilities, but that's another story. Now don't go thinking that all toilets here are holes in the floor because they're not. I've seen many sparkling clean ultra modern toilets here that are equipped like no toilets I've ever seen in the states.

And that's why it surprises me that one simple wonderful thing that almost all toilets here in Saudi Arabia have hasn't caught on in the states. What is it, you ask? It's a plain old spray hose attachment that you can clean with after you've done your business. Before I met my husband, like many Americans, I used to just use toilet paper. But I learned from him how lovely it is to actually clean yourself with water. Because we didn't have one of those nifty spray hoses, we would keep a garden watering can nearby to use and just fill it with water from the sink. If you think about it, it's so much more refreshing and hygenic. And a few sheets of toilet paper is really all you need to dry off. Every couple of years or so, a part of the hose might start leaking, so you simply replace the entire hose with a new one that can be purchased at discount places along the lines of Big Lots or such. I like it much better than the bidet itself - we have two bidets in our home, and I use it to wash off my feet!

It seems like this spray hose should be easy enough to install, as long as there is a separate available water line, otherwise you would need some plumbing expertise. In Florida, my husband jury-rigged his own contraption onto our toilets. Instead of a spray hose, a small metal spray head was used, attached to copper tubing and affixed inside the toilet bowl, like a little mini fountain. He also installed an off/on handle that we could turn when we wanted to use it. It was much more complicated than these fantastic spray hoses, and it looked wierd, was harder to keep clean, and not as efficient, but it served its purpose.

I just don't understand why these remarkable easy-to-use toilet hoses haven't sprung up everywhere in America. It's one thing I truly miss when I travel back to the states!

For more interesting information about bathroom habits and equipment around the world, visit Toilets of the World.

And here's a website that sells the wonderful handheld bidet sprayers,


  1. Yeah I hate the hole-in-the floor toilets, they were at one of the places our bus stopped at in Turkey. Generally houses there have 1 bathroom with a toilet like that, and another restroom with a "normal" toilet.
    I agree, it is lovely to clean yourself with water. Not even sure how I was actually clean before I started using that method. :))
    You can also use those disposable wipes if you don't have any water handy ...

  2. Of all times, it was during a trip to Japan that I first started actually using the bidet and loved it. I wish we had them here, too. It gives you a much cleaner feeling.

  3. susie...i couldnt agree with you more. the thing i miss most about lebanon, is my bathroom.
    i have my body on a schedule because i dont feel clean unless i'm really
    thanks for the post..maybe someone in the states will read this and start the upgrade of our toilets:)

  4. Yes, bidets or the hoses are definitely necessary. Much more hygenic than just plain toilet paper. That is one of the things I miss when on vacation in the states.

  5. Very interesting and innovative post. It struck me that the hose is the shower version of the bidet--wonderful tools of hygiene, and a boon to honeymoon cystitis prevention! I also use a large spray bottle of water on bidet-less vacations.

    Turkish toilets are a learned technique. Worst of clean toilets in my experience: a cement slab with holes spaced at strategic intervals over a pit, in the ladies washroom in a factory in Maoist China (#3 pencil factory?--anyway a pencil factory).

  6. Funny You should mention this "thing" :-) Living in Oman, we see this everywhere, but have never tried to use one! How can you use one of these wihtout getting all of your clothes soaking wet??!! I just find it very irritating that the floors in all public toilets in Oman are wet... And I havde been thinking a lot about how all the abayas and dishdashes wont get wet in there..?! That is one big mystery to us :-)

  7. The loos in Japan are something to behold, sprays, blow drys and soothing music. Absolutely amazing.

    I love your blog, and look forward to receiving it. I do hope that your son is now fully recovered from his very unpleasant experience.


  8. Sounds like an interesting idea. Yet I too wonder how your clothes stay dry.

    As concious of cleanliness as most Americans are I am surprised this hasn't caught on.

    In Mexico you carry your own TP and there's rarely a seat on the porcelain bowl.

  9. Why hasn't it caught on? Because when the weather is -3 degrees, spraying down there is not kind of thing you want to replace your coffee buzz with so early in the morning. Yes?

  10. I wish I could have really good instructions! I like the concept but don't know how one stays dry ... or dries off when there's no paper?? How do you keep clothes dry? I don't like the water that is always on the floor but am now used to that.

  11. Love the new look of your blog!
    I think it would be nice at home but wouldn't use one in the public.

  12. I'm originally from Europe and majority of our bathrooms had bidets. We used it to wash ourselves and it was super handy when you just wanted to wash your feet after playing outside and running around (I lived there as a kid). I was very surprised to see how plain the bathrooms in Canada were when I moved here.

    The spray hose on your toilets sounds handy, but I'd really like to try one of those Japanese toilets one day. I don't think it gets better or more innovative than that!

  13. No No NO you can't just use toilet paper you have to use baby wipes and carry them with you or wet your toilet paper. If you dont' have baby wipes you can do what my sister did the other day lol she poured her coffee on the tiolet paper to wet it so she could wipe at the mall. Strange I know but much better than dry toilet paper. So if you are in a pinch just wet your toilet paper with coffee or what ever! And those hole in the ground toilets I dont know how many of those I have put my foot in, in Japan. Its just nasty and very irritating.

  14. Hmmm...your guess is as good as mine, Susie! :) That does look like a much more hygienic and refreshing method than what we're used to over here in North America. Perhaps a big, flashy ad campaign calling it the next great thing in toilet technology will get people to adopt it ;)

    By the way, I was surprised when I checked your site today and was awash in blue!! I love it!

  15. Flushable wet wipes, that's what we here in the states use to be fresh and clean after using the toilet.

  16. LOL funny post. The only thing I miss when I leave Saudi is my bathroom.

  17. I've only seen extra water coming from toilets in one place in America. An unlikely place--my uncle's house in Smalltown, Missouri. Their toilets are so complicated I can't figure them out. But he lives in China 9 months of the year, and the toilets came from there, and the writing is all Chinese. But I know if I COULD figure it out, it would be way better. Never thought about just hooking up a hose!

  18. Thanks for the refreshing post! :o)

    I am curious, do you wipe first then spray? I understand how it works for #1, but is the force of the water enough to clean properly after #2? I dont want to seem crude; I've always wondered, but never really knew who to ask. But since you are on the subject, now is the perfect time!

  19. Hi Aynur - I've noticed that many of the public facilities here in KSA also offer either a regular toilet or the hole in the floor type, and both have the spray hoses. I always have disposable wipes too!

    Hi Kay - Absolutely!

    Hi Angie - I've been tempted to take the hoses back with me as gifts. I do remember seeing kits offered in home improvement stores and they cost about $100 - which is way overpriced. Replacement spray hoses here cost about 10 riyals ($2.50 US).

    Hi AnnMarie - Me too! It does sound a little funny that one thing we miss most when we are away from here are the toilets!

    Hi Chiara - A pencil factory, huh? hmmmm...

    Hi Anon - Using the hole in the floor type while wearing pants is extremely difficult. Removing everything from the waist down is the best way. I don't know why some people get the floors so wet when there is a regular toilet - it has to be carelessness or extremely bad aim!

    Hi Beatrice - Thanks! My son is doing better, but he did sustain a fracture to his hand, we just found out. It might be worth visiting Japan just to experience the loos there!

    Hi Gaelyn - Your clothes don't get wet using a regular toilet with the spray hose. In fact, the spray water just goes into the bowl, not everywhere.

    Hi Hning - While the water spray can be a little jolting in cold weather, that alone isn't reason enough to not use these spray hoses the rest of the year!

  20. Hi Janie - There have only been a couple of occasions that I can think of when there was no paper available (I try to carry tissues with me), so one good thing about wearing the abaya is that it hides. I've never really gotten my clothes "wet" by using the spray. I doesn't take much paper at all to pat onesself dry either.

    Hi Lorac - Thanks! I prefer using my facilities at home as well, but when I absolutely cannot wait, luckily I've been fortunate to mostly find adequate and clean facilities. One of the most disgusting I ever had to use was in a small town in Texas...

    Hi Maya - Yes, those Japanese toilets sound devine!

    Hi SanAntCicily - When I travel, I always carry baby wipes with me and always have tissues too. Ewwww - your foot in the hole in the ground toilets? Yukkk!

    Hi Mel - Glad you like the new look of the blog - thanks for letting me know. So many other countries use the sprays too - I just don't know why they're not more common in America!

    Hi Queen - Flushable wipes are great!

    Hi Dr SmartCookie - Isn't that sad that the only thing we miss about Saudi are th toilets? LOL

    Hi Louise - I think you should ask your uncle for a lesson in how to use his toilets - you'll probably really love them once you know how to use them!

    Hi Anon - Well, since you asked - For #2 I prefer to spray first, wipe, spray again, wipe, etc., for however many times it takes to get clean. Most times I'll use paper first, and then switch to a wipe. Short of a demonstration, I hope this helps!!!

  21. They do sell them in the US. They're marketed mostly for the handicapped, which is why we have one (my son is handicapped). It's a toilet seat that is hooked up to the water line and plugged into an electric outlet. It heats the water, which when you press a button, a wand comes out under the back of the toilet seat and sends out a pulsating jet of water. When it's done the wand cleans itself and goes back into the toilet seat. Ours has a heated toilet seat and a blow dry feature. They're not cheap, $400-$500, but even if we didn't need it for our son, I would want one anyway.

  22. I guess I will have to practice. :(
    My in-law's plumbing doesn't like paper. I think they are on septic and paper causes big problems. Now I put paper in the garbage but it would be better to be paperless. The wipes, even if they say flushable, are not good for any plumbing system. They should go into the garbage.

  23. I love the hose near the toilet, a piece that should be in the states.In fact, I prefer the bathrooms in Middle East as there are drains, making it much easier to to mop.
    Here in my apartment in Turkey I have got a spray built into the the toilet but I have to say I still prefer the spray.

    Is it even possible to get sprays in the US and do they exist anywhere?

    Off the topic..
    I have been looking into this blog for awhile but have not opened a gmail account yet! I enjoy this blog very is Terrific!

  24. Japan's toilets range from the most disgusting (they also have the kind that is flush with the ground; no seat) to the most deluxe. No one has yet to mention the heated toilet seats they also have, which are becoming almost routine to find. Useless for KSA, I'm sure, but great for Japan in the winter.

    A benefit to not having a toilet seat is that you aren't putting your bare butt where many others have also been.

  25. I've tried the hose and I am not a fan. It also seems a bit wasteful of resources to use toilet paper AND water. Most people use too much toilet paper though - a few squares is plenty.

  26. This is very funny story. My husband has traveled to Jeddah twice and both times he sent me pictures of the toilets! He told me about the Squatting toilets, but we didn't know they had a name until I read this. Thank goodness that was not one he sent me a picture of!

  27. Hello Susie,

    Funny post! It made me laugh, as I recalled many funny and gross toilet experiences I had when I lived in China. I could have written a thesis about the variety of strange (at least to an Australian) toilets that I encountered.

    The most interesting toilet set up I experienced at a hostel in China was a long,thin pit in the concrete floor (about 20 cm wide by about nine or ten feet long). There were walls segregating the space above the pit into compartments but no doors for privacy. The flush system consisted of a bucket, which meant the waste would slowly travel past the other toilet users who happened to be there at the time.

    I had to lower my inhabitions when using toilets in China, as sometimes there was little privacy, although the toilets were thankfully, always strictly segregated between the genders.

    Using squat toilets is good though, when your knees and thighs get used to it because you don't have any danger of touching dirty seats, but using a squat toilet on a train is always a challenge in maintaining balance and aim!

    Japanese toilets have to be the most delux and clean in the world. There are some that even play music etc, to discretely hide any noises made.

    All the best in spreading the word with regard to toilet hoses! May toilets of the world become places of relaxation and cross-cultural innovation!



  28. Susie, You are great!!! This is just the post I needed. It looks like my husband's first post with the State Dept. might be Kuwait. I have seen pictures of what is most likely our future home and I was wondering about the spray hose. I had figured out the bidet, but the hose I was stumped by.

    I will tell you this I haven't used it yet, but with five kids under eight this sounds like an AWESOME addition to our bathroom. Thanks for sharing this with those of us who haven't a clue : )

  29. Oh isn't it fantastic?!?! Before I even first went to the Mid-East I always used to take showers after using the bathroom when duty called. I just felt cleaner that way. So imagine my delight upon discovering in the airports & a lot of homes! I was in heaven...especially if it was strong water pressure. Then you feel extra clean.

    I dislike the toilets with the spray head, a lot. I was told those are from more older toilets. I noticed almost every toilet I used in Egypt were rigged this way....I've found feces on those things, how does that keep you clean????

    The only pet peeve I had with the spray hoses on modern toilets, was that some guests would spray water everywhere, on the floor, on the seat, and weren't courteous enough to clean up after wards. Very annoying needless to say!

  30. Susie,
    I am in the US hosting a young male student from Saudi--finally, I understand the hose in his bath--I assumed he was washing his feet for prayer (which may be true, too) but I had wondrerdd and wasn't about to ask :-)
    He is a very polite young man and so far so good-I find cooking hard as I am not sure what he likes and being young he doesn't exactly know a lot of recipes to share :-) Any suggestions there appreciated--

  31. forgot to add that depending on the temps outside can influence the temp of the water you spray on your nether regions. That is something one definitely needs to take into account before spraying...ol.

  32. We have just begun a major makeover of our master bathroom. Starting today, s crew of guys are tearing everything out, including the toilet. Everything will be brand new. I predict that as soon as my bathroom is complete, these spray things will catch on here and I will have missed my opportunity :)

  33. Hi Susie,
    I enjoy reading your blog even though I am on the other side of your story at times.. I am a Saudi girl that moved to the states around the time you moved to my country and had a similar experience with your culutre. At first I was excited and thrilled and slowly life started to settle in and I started to experience the culture that was at times shockingly similar to mine and at other times totally different. I would like to invite you to read my blog because I have a posting that I would like to publish about your blog. It is nice I believe, I dont sugar coat things either but I tend to tell it like it is in the nicest way possible. I would like to hear from you an approval before I publish my posting at If I dont hear from you in a week I will go ahead and publish my posting but I would really really really love to hear from you before I do.. Peace, Lulu.

  34. Love your new logo! Great piece. Amazing how different cultures handle the fundamental human needs differently.

  35. I'm used to bidets since I was a little child, living in a tiny hometown in Brasil. We had it in our home as everybody else. It was a very commun facility and almost every single house had it.
    I'm 44 now, I've lived in the USA, Switzerland and now Taiwan and I do miss bidets. It isn't easy to find it in those countries.

    For about 10 or 15 years, bidets were replaced with those spray hoses in Brasil. They took less space and do the same job.

    I don't recall going to any house back to the 70's that didn't have bidets. The same now with the spray hose.

  36. I agree---it's wonderful to be able to clean yourself thoroughly--I could never go back to plain old TP and a watering can doesnt have the same force--haha! Can you imagine though...many Americans I know think it's UNCIVILIZED to clean the way we do??? They think TP is a more advanced and chic option than water. Doesnt it make you want to hit yourself in the head???

  37. Hi Susie, I'm from the UK and have been living in Bahrain for the last 18 months. We have these hoses in all our toilets and I think they're brilliant - but not for cleaning me (I'm still a bidet fan)but for cleaning the toilet bowl. SO much more hygienic and pleasant to use than a smelly toilet brush!

  38. I discovered the wonderful bidet when I lived in Argentina. It was especially nice when the "Gaucho Gallops", we called them, came. You could just sit and let that nice cool water soothe your behind for awhile. I have also wondered why the States don't install them. It would save on TP and I don't know how other people's sewers are, but even flushable wipes cause problems. In Argentina I was on a long bus trip to a new assignment and finally we reached a stop. I hurried for the restroom and was apalled when I entered and the only things available were a holes in the floor with no stalls for any kind of privacy. I don't know how my bladder did it, but I made it to the next stop where things were so much more modern. I hope bathrooms will be around for a long time. I am so weird because whatever movie I watch that is set in times gone by, I always wonder if I could have survived living then without the modern convenience of the bathroom.

  39. Hello,
    First of all, welcome to Saudi. I'm from Riyadh, and I didn't know you guys were fascinated about the water hose thingy. Yeah, I agree with you, those hole toilets are uncomfortable and make your clothes wet. But at our house we have regular toilet sets, but when I'm at a mall or something, I rather use the hole for sanitary purposes. I hope you enjoy your stay.

  40. its there at most well built Masjeds and Islamic center across the states, but most Americans dont get the idea of washing that area with hands and water they think its dirty.

  41. When I remember being called dirty for using that spray hose by my American friends :-)

    Great blog!

    Keep up the good work.

  42. A hand held bathroom bidet sprayer is so much better than a stand alone bidet or bidet seat and this is why:1. It's less expensive (potentially allot less) 2. You can install in yourself = no plumber expense 3. It works better by providing more control of where the water spray goes and a greater volume of water flow. 4. It requires no electricity and there are few things that can go wrong with it. 5. It doesn't take up any more space, many bathrooms don't have room for a stand alone bidet. 6. You don’t have to get up and move from the toilet to the bidet which can be rather awkward at times to say the least. Available at One review:

  43. oh gosh i love the sprays, its wonderful. I miss them right now.

  44. oh gosh i love the sprays, its wonderful. I miss them right now.

  45. Check out this Bidet Sprayer: It's Stainless Steel and comes with a 5 year warranty = the best in the industry. At

  46. hi im from Oman

    I came across this post by google cuz i was looking for a hotel in the US that has this hose or at least a bidet..I can never ever go to toilet and not clean my self with water so yeah..cultural diversity :)


    Farah just get one of these and stay in whichever hotel you like. These are usually given to women after they give birth for cleaning. But they are like a little portable bidet.