World-first review: Kohler C3 bidet toilet seat, car wash for your butt

Technology is touching all parts of our lives, our nether parts being no exception. These days there are toilet seats that clean you up like a car wash, and we have one right here from Kohler that we’ve been testing. Japan has embraced bidet toilet technology like no other nation on Earth, with water-spraying seats now installed in 68% of Japanese households, but American toilets aren't going high-tech that quickly. We’re wondering why, because their spraying, spritzing magic wands make you feel as clean as when you step out of the shower.

We installed a Kohler C3 200 toilet seat ($950) a couple of months ago and gave it a full test… drive. It’s packed with useful features — front and back spray, deodorizing fan, cool blue LED lights to give you a nighttime landing strip, and a blower that dries you off with warm air. Plus it’s controlled with an excellent wireless remote. Come with us by clicking Continue and we’ll extol the virtues and alert you to the pitfalls of such alien technology. No giggling, please. At least not when the bidet is off.

You Got the Power?
When we first unpacked the Kohler C3, we immediately noticed an obstacle for the majority of homeowners: It requires a power outlet behind or near your toilet. We were in luck, though, because we have electronic toilets here at our Midwest Test Facility, flushing with compressors that save water and work perfectly, so a power outlet was already in place. If you don’t have a receptacle nearby, that can be installed by an electrician, but it’s not going to be cheap, perhaps in the $200 range or more.

Easy as Hooking up a Garden Hose
Once we took off the old seat and secured the new one to the toilet, the rest of the installation was straightforward. You use the water pipe already connected to the toilet, and that water is warmed by an in-line heater in the seat on an as-needed basis. That’s an efficient design, saving power that would need to be used to keep that water heated 24/7. The smartly designed wireless remote control attaches to a magnetic holder that you mount to the wall.

Stink Stopper
The first thing you notice when you sit on the seat is a nearly silent fan turning on automatically. That’s the deodorizing fan whirring away, and it works surprisingly well, filtering all that malodorous air through activated charcoal. In fact, it can almost eliminate the need for a bathroom fan, neutralizing that harsh bathroom smell. We didn’t realize a level of deodorization this complete was even possible.

Engage and Giggle
Once you’re done with your bidness, you push a button for the bidet function to begin, selecting front or rear (we think they should have labeled the buttons No. 1 and No. 2), depending on what needs washing. You can also finely adjust the exact place where the spray nozzle is aimed, and we’re here to tell you: It can hit you in exactly the right spot. It’s a strange sensation at first, and takes some getting used to. Some of us just couldn’t keep from laughing out loud when the spray first started, we were so ticklish. But that giddy feeling went away after we’d used the seat for a few days.

Spray Versatility
There are lots of choices for this spray, including pulsate, which resembles a Water Pik but in slower two-second intervals, the normal flow which sends a constant gush of water precisely where you need it, and oscillate, undulating its spray back and forth to be sure you’re getting completely clean. Overall, it’s like a carwash for your butt, spraying and rinsing and leaving nothing behind. You can choose between three water temperatures, from cold to pleasantly warm, and there are two presets, saving favorite settings for him or her. Topping off the luxury is a heated toilet seat with temp settings from cool to hot, a welcome feature on a cold morning, which can be set to turn off automatically to save energy.

Once all the spritzing is done, it’s time for a blow-dry, and you can choose three fan speeds and temperatures for this, too. This was the only weakness of the Kohler C3 200, where the system is not able to dry you off quickly enough. Also, when you start the dry function, the deodorizing fan switches off, quickly reminding you of what a great job that charcoal filter’s been doing of eliminating odor. Here’s where you still might need that bathroom fan.

Not Perfect
Kohler suggests a quick butt-check with toilet paper after you’re done with the C3’s bidet-and-dry routine, which is good advice. Sometimes all this magic isn’t able to get you completely clean, so we got in the routine of a quick check for assurance. About half the time, we were glad we did, but the C3 still nearly eliminated the need for toilet paper.

Choice Seat
The overall experience with the Kohler C3 was overwhelmingly positive with both our male and female test subjects. This product is terrific, and we’re enthralled with its near-perfect engineering and workmanship. It works extremely well, and would be especially useful for the disabled or elderly. It’s one of those technological innovations that’s remarkably easy to get accustomed to, and one that you’ll miss when you’re away from home. We’re hoping the U.S. embraces this tech, long overdue in a country so obsessed with daily cleanliness.

Kohler C3 200 and Designer Plumbing Outlet