The imaginative ways readers use bidets

Children washing their feet in a bidet Image copyright Alamy

A recent Magazine article about bidets prompted readers to email us with stories of how they use the bathroom fixture that the Anglo-Saxons love to hate.

In the original piece, British journalist Dany Mitzman explained how she was converted to bidets after moving to Italy - and she mentioned that Italians were not amused by visitors who used them incorrectly.

Readers were not afraid however to describe the uses they have found for bidets - here's a selection of your comments.

Defrosting the turkey. Nicholas Cox, Stanstead Abbotts, UK

My friend's family who are "a bit posh" had one. As kids we figured out that the jet was so powerful it would just about reach the ceiling. So we had competitions to catch as much of the jet of water after it was coming back down from the ceiling in your mouth as you could. It wasn't easy. It was travelling fast and erratically and bounced out as soon as you tried to capture it. Mick, Northwood, UK

I put my tropical fish in there while changing the water in their aquarium. Rick Zullo, Rome, Italy

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When I was a teen living in the Middle East in the 1960s, I found the bidet was fabulous for bleaching dead corals and other ocean artefacts that I retrieved from the Red Sea. I had no idea of the true purpose of a bidet; neither did my parents. Spooty, Saint Louis, US

In the 1980s a friend was working in Paris as contact person for a travel company. He received a call from a hotel after the departure of a group of Welsh rugby supporters who had come over for a Five Nations match. The girl at reception had wondered why some of them had edged down the stairs with their backs to the wall. All became clear when staff visited one of the rooms they had occupied. Apparently, they had removed the bidet and it must still sit somewhere as a trophy in a Welsh rugby club. Joe Ryan, Nogent, France

When my daughter was three to five years old, she and her friend regularly used the bidet as a Barbie swimming pool. Unfortunately one day she put her Rachel doll (S Club 7) into the bidet to swim. Normally when Rachel's arms were lifted, she sang "Reach for the sky". Sadly she never sang again. Fiona Thomas, Copenhagen, Denmark

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My son married his Italian girlfriend 10 days ago. I had made the cake which required a circle of fresh flowers. The obligatory bidet proved extremely useful to soak some Oasis floral foam. Carol de Lusignan, Brussels, Belgium

In the mid-1960s, I went on a school trip to Aix les Bains. We stayed in a small, but proper hotel near the railway station. Bidet? What was that for? To cool butter in, of course - we didn't have a clue. Gill Bates, Ashbourne UK

When my parents had their bathroom remodelled, my mother insisted in putting in a bidet. It is used for its intended purpose but also for washing small pets. It is like a miniature bathtub, just right for the guinea pig. The bidet provides the perfect control, as you loom over the animal and it can't escape the steep, porcelain sides. Rebekah Stone, Berkeley, USA

I am an Italian expat. I live now in the US and do miss the bidet. I also date myself by confessing that I have used the one in Italy to develop pictures (use bathroom as darkroom, pour small amount of developing acid, dunk photo paper etc etc). Nana Pasini, Ventura, California, US

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I am a plant collector, and I kept my gorgeous specimens well hydrated in a bidet in Africa until I could get them home. Arleen Seed, Washington DC, USA

I bathed my baby in one in Italy. There was no tub in the hotel, and she just fit. During a year in Paris, we used ours for washing smalls and feet, as well as the intended parts. Our flat had only one toilet for four people, and I will admit that my husband and son used it as a urinal occasionally. I miss it terribly. Barbara Murray, Brookline, Massachusetts USA

Whilst viewing a flat in Paris with a French estate agent he pointed to a bidet and told me in hesitant English, "This is not for washing the baby in, it's for washing the baby out." Ian Howarth, Antibes, France

We held a vote to find out how our readers use bidets - we gave you three choices and these are the results.

I was staying at the Shangri-La in Hong Kong in the early 1980s and a co-worker, who was on his first trip out of the United States, informed me on the way to dinner that he knew this was a very fine hotel in which we were staying. When I asked him how he knew this he said, "Why, I have a drinking fountain next to my toilet." David Akers, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

As a child my family and I would always go on a caravan holiday to the south of France once a year. One particular time, while driving through France, my family stopped at a very small hotel overnight. This hotel had a bidet and when I asked my father naively what the toilet looking sink thing was for he explained it was "for washing your family jewels". Flash forward 10 or so years to a teenage me explaining to someone at a party that "in France they have a special sink just for washing your jewelry." My family has yet to let me live it down. Erin Burns, Willimanti, USA

In the early 1970s when I was 14, we had our first family package holiday overseas to Calella in Spain and I saw a bidet for the first time. I had never seen one before and had no idea what it was for, but it was the ideal receptacle for washing my snorkel, mask and flippers after a hard days snorkelling in the Med. Gary Cuddon, West Malling, UK

I use these as ice buckets for champagne in hotel rooms and also flower pots. Dr Coustau, Brighton, UK

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I grew up in England in a house with no shower which was pretty typical I believe in the 1970s. We would fill the sink next to the bath and kneel over the bath using a beaker to wash our hair. It became quite an art form. In 1984, aged 11, I went on my first holiday abroad to Mallorca. Upon entering the hotel bathroom I excitedly exclaimed to my father that they had a special hair washing sink. I probably made the stinky egg face when he explained what it really was. I still washed my hair in it. Glenn, Warrington, England

They make a super [place for] leaving umbrellas to dry. Ian Ratcliffe, London, UK

I live and work in Italy. An office I worked in last year didn't have a kitchen, so we had to wash our lunchtime plates in the bathroom. One of my colleagues has never been allowed to live down the fact that she once stacked our cutlery in the bidet to dry. My colleague can't plead ignorance: she's Italian. Jim, Rome, Italy

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