Everybody wants to use my bathroom right now. It's not the tile work, nor the trap, nor the shower head. It's the toilet. Specifically, the bidet toilet seat. Brondell's Swash 1000 was one of our favourite gadgets at CES, so we decided to stick one where the sun doesn't shine for a review.
Warning: This is a review of a bidet. There will be unabashed talk of human excrement and the body parts that produce it. If that sort of thing offends you, then do yourself and everyone else a favour and stop reading now. You've been warned.
OK, good. They're gone. Let's get down to it.
Why It Matters
Products like these are huge in Asia, Europe and most of the civilised world, yet they're all but non-existent in the US and Australia. Why? Modern bidets are generally more thorough and more sanitary than toilet paper. Brondell is far from the only player in this game — Toto is probably the largest — but the Toto Washlet that has the same features as the Swash 1000 costs more than twice as much. This gets you a lot of bidet bang for your bidet buck.
Installation is super easy. You remove your old toilet seat, put the Swash on, and connect it to the cold water line. The whole process took less than 20 minutes and required only a standard wrench and screwdriver. The seat is large and it feels a little light and plasticy, but it's quite strong. When you sit down on the seat, the Swash senses the pressure and turns itself on. If you've left it on Eco Mode (which you really should), the seat will immediately start warming up to the last temperature selected (from 88 to 99 degrees F). You do your business as usual, and when you're done, grab the remote control.
The Swash 1000 has two separate nozzles: a rear one, for your backside, and a forward one for "feminine cleansing". Both nozzles have adjustable water temperature, pressure, stream-width and position (front to back), all of which is accomplished using the remote. You select the jet you want, the nozzle cleans itself, and then extends from within the seat. Then the cleansing spray begins. It's a bit of a shock at first, but you get used to it after a couple of times. You can also hit the "Move" button, which activates the unfortunately named but awesome "Massage Mode". Basically the nozzle oscillates back and forth to cover more ground. It's recommended. The spraying goes on for one minute, then the jet sterilises itself again, and retracts. Then you hit the Air Dry button and warm air (again, to the temperature of your choosing) blows across your rear, doing a lot of the drying.
There is also a deodorise button (probably best to use during toilet use, not after), which works by sucking the stinky air in from the toilet bowl and blowing it through a catalyst wall of activated charcoal that absorbs odours. It's not scented or anything, but it's rated to last 6-7 years before it needs to be replaced. Both the seat and the lid are slam-proof, which is great for night-time ninja urination. I was pretty concerned about power consumption, but there was no noticeable spike in my energy bill. (I used the Swash for a little over a month.) If you leave it in Eco Mode (which keeps the seat's heat turned all the way down until you sit on it), it will consume about 0.6 kilowatts per day. Depending on how much power costs where you are, that'll be about 7.5 cents. Add to that a few uses of the on-demand heated-water and air dryer, and you'll probably hit 15 cents a day. In the summer, when it's hot and you probably won't want the heated features, the cost will be virtually nothing.
The rear wash works exceedingly well. After you get used to it you'll never want to go back to scratchy, abrasive toilet paper. I've found myself downright indignant when I have to take a dump anywhere else. "You mean I have to wipe my own arse? Like some kind of peasant!?" Yeah, my arse is spoiled. Ninety-five per cent of the time, the Swash takes care of everything (no poop left behind), and you won't need any additional wiping. There's a trick, though: you have to relax. If you clinch up when the water hits you, it can't get in deep and do its thing. It'll feel weird. That's OK. Let it be weird.
The seat is nicely shaped and very comfortable. It gets warm extremely fast, as does the water. It's been awesome in winter. Hitting Move ("Massage Mode"... oy), once you're all lined up, is super-thorough. Being able to adjust the width and pressure of the beam is downright essential for comfort, and this was able to accommodate everyone who tried it (seriously, all your friends will want to hit the smallest room at your place). And it may seem like a small thing, but the no-slam seat and lid are really handy. Plus, you just feel way cleaner afterwards than you do with toilet paper.
Aside from utterly ruining crapping anywhere else, there are some sizable flaws. The front jet which is designed for "feminine cleansing" isn't nearly far forward enough. All three women that tested it for me said the same thing: They had to scoot way back and lean forward in order to get it into the correct neighbourhood. Awkward.
The air dryer is nice, and it certainly helps dry you, but it doesn't finish the job. I was hoping I'd never need to buy toilet paper again, but you still need a few squares to dry your cheeks. I even sat there once for three consecutive drying cycles — a total of six minutes — but I still needed to blot my buns.
While the water jet gets nice and warm very quickly, the first two seconds of water always comes out cool. Not cold, but cool enough to startle you and make you tense up, which is the opposite of what you want to be doing. You would think that it could just purge the cool water into the bowl for a couple of seconds before spraying you. Not a huge deal, but annoying.
Should I Buy It?
Yeah, you should. It'll change your life for the better. If you have mobility problems, that goes quadruple. If you have hemorrhoids, that goes octuple. The Swash 1000 is Brondell's fanciest model, and at $US600, it's not cheap, but the analogous Toto Washlet starts at $US1300. They have three other models with varying levels of bells and whistles that are priced from $US180 to $US400. You probably don't need it, but it'll improve your quality of life. If you don't already look forward to taking a crap, you will. And if you do already, you'll look forward to it even more. [Brondell]
Brondell Swash 1000 Specs
OS: Android 2.3.6 (just kidding) Jets: One Back, One Front Heated Seat and Water: Yes Air Dryer: Check Remote Control: Surely Adjustable Streams: Yep Peak Power Consumption: 1200W Price: $US600