How many people enjoy cleaning their toilet?
Didn’t think so.
But not to fear, toilet manufacturers are listening to the wants and needs of their customers with one main topic of conversation being the issue of hygiene.
“Most people do not enjoy cleaning toilets so the most important need is to ensure a toilet offers a high degree of cleanliness,” Kohler Director of Marketing for Toilet Products John Mannon says. “This includes the toilet interior where users expect the bowl will be clean after one flush, but from their past experience they know that is not always the case. They also want the toilet’s exterior to be easy to clean.”
LIXIL Americas Vice President Chinaware & Commercial Products James Walsh is hearing the same thing from its customers regarding hygiene.
“Most consumers are confident in the overall flushing performance offered by leading toilet manufacturers and now are looking for toilets that offer enhanced cleaning features,” he says. “A powerful rim wash that leaves the bowl looking properly fresh and clean is one example of the type of features homeowners are looking for in today’s toilets.”
Walsh explains American Standard recently tested a variety of toilet innovations with a large consumer focus group and found self-cleaning features were in the greatest demand.
“Homeowners are very interested in user-activated technologies that save time and improve cleanliness in the bathroom,” he says.
Gerber Plumbing Fixtures Senior Product Manager Lovin Saini feels toilets now are being measured not on solely flushing ability, but the cleanliness and hygiene factor.
“They must flush more than just solid mass,” he says. “They must also clean the sides of the bowl and ensure any stains and toilet paper are removed with each flush. Gerber’s research and development focuses on the mechanics of the bowl, trapway and the flushing system to maximize these needs are met.”
More toilet trends
Hygiene is far from the only trend on toilet manufacturers’ radar screens. Duravit USA President Tim Schroeder sees shower toilets continuing to evolve and grow in popularity in the U.S., as well as wall-hung toilets.
“Wall-hung toilets are really making an impact,” he says. “While they’ve always had a strong hold in contract environments, customers in residential markets are asking for these more and more. The modern, sleek aesthetic combined with the water-saving properties they often provide make them a great choice for the 21st century home.”
And speaking of water savings, Mansfield Plumbing Vice President of Marketing Gary Pember notes the desire for reliable, high-performing sanitary ware products is a recurring trend that ties in with the desire for low water usage.
“We said last year that water-efficient toilets are here to stay and we stand behind that statement,” he says. “Homeowners want one-flush confidence while knowing they are minimizing water usage.”
Pember notes WaterSense toilets, which generally operate at 1.28 gpf or less, remain top sellers in the U.S. “In the drought-ridden areas of our country every drop of water counts,” he says. “Many builders, remodelers, plumbers and homeowners are reviewing their options for toilets using less water. This can include dual-flush toilets that use a lower quantity of water to remove liquid waste compared to using slightly more water to remove solid waste.”
LIXIL Americas’ Walsh sees the demand for water-efficient toilets increasing as water conservation continues to climb the top-of-mind charts in the U.S. “It’s likely the demand for water-efficient toilets will continue to grow as more areas of the country enact water restrictions in response to drought conditions,” he says. “Even in areas unaffected by water regulations, more and more homeowners are looking for high-performance, water-conserving toilets as confidence in the flushing power of low-flow toilets continues to grow among consumers.”
Kohler’s Mannon says the consumer’s continued thirst for the latest technology must be taken into consideration when developing new toilet models.
“Technology has impacted nearly every product in the home from thermostats to refrigerators to televisions and toilets are not an exception,” he says. “Technology is becoming more integral in our lives, society is putting a greater emphasis on health and wellness, and our cultural standards for cleanliness and hygiene are increasing. Consumers expect technology to make their lives easier and more convenient and their standards continue to rise.”
Latest and greatest
Here are some of the newest innovations from manufacturers that participated in this story.
Kohler’s Touchless Flush technology minimizes the spread of germs. The Wisconsin manufacturer also recently introduced a deodorizing toilet seat (Purefresh) that neutralizes the air and can emit a fresh scent.
Mansfield’s new PROTECTOR no-overflow toilet features a concealed secondary drain that provides protection from messy overflow situations, solving the problem of clogged toilets displacing overflowing water onto the floor by redirecting excess water into the concealed secondary drain with no unsightly holes. A PuraClean glaze makes the bowl bacteria-resistant and easier to clean.
Duravit’s SensoWash Starck seat is available with a range of features such as a seat warmer, night-light and magnetic remote. Duravit’s HygieneGlaze antibacterial ceramic glaze is a tin-zinc mix integrated during the material’s firing and is powerful enough to destroy 99.9% of germs within 24 hours, the company notes.
Gerber’s Viper dual-flush toilet has two buttons on the top of the tank to dictate the flush rate, one operating at 0.9 gpf for liquid and one operating at 1.1 gpf for solids. The toilet is WaterSense certified.
LIXIL Americas’ Walsh notes American Standard has a new generation of the ActiClean self-cleaning toilet in development. The new line will incorporate Wi-Fi connectivity for both residential and commercial toilets to address cleanability, ease of use and odor issues. Walsh says concepts are being researched with commercial specifiers and the results of the research will set the priorities for the company’s product-development initiatives.
This article was originally titled “Keep it clean” in the February 2017 print edition of PM Engineer.