Self-Cleaning Toilets: Do They Actually Work?

The luxury bathroom experience can start with a new, self-cleaning toilet, but is it worth it?

How does a self-cleaning toilet work? If you have been considering a new toilet, this is surely a question that you have asked yourself as you look around at the selections on the market. This is a modern bathroom trend that can certainly make your busy life easier. It is typically viewed as an eco-friendly option, which is part of the appeal as more homeowners are opting to make their homes greener. But is it too good to be true? Not at all, as it turns out.

Learning more about the basics, the pros and cons, and what is needed to maintain this unique toilet can help you determine if one belongs in your home.

What is a Self-Cleaning Toilet?

As the name implies, a self-cleaning toilet is a fixture that works to keep itself clean and disinfected, through regular cleanings at the push of a button. The idea is to reduce the risk of stains accumulating, making it easier to maintain a clean and hygienic toilet.

There are multiple brands that handle the challenge in various ways, but there are a few common features to a self-cleaning toilet:

  • They utilize a specially designed toilet bowl that reduces the amount of crevices waste can cling to, as well as non-porous finish glazes that otherwise work to repel the grime.
  • There are special cleaners and coating materials that work to make this possible, across multiple brands and models, that are all slightly different.

Most self-cleaning toilets use water pressure against a specially designed bowl, as well as chemicals released into the water from the tank, to clean the bowl with each flush or cleaning session. Some also incorporate a UV light into the seat lid, which interacts with the cleaning solutions in the water, as well as with the ceramic photocatalytic cast of the bowl itself itself to clean at the microscopic level.

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Ensuring the Proper Maintenance for Your Toilet

While it is a self-cleaning toilet, you still have to do a few things to make sure that it is completely clean.

Of course, not all components are entirely self-cleaning. This means that you still have to do a little bit of work to keep it clean. For example, you may still need to wipe down the seat and the outside of the toilet. About once a month, you want to do a regular cleaning, with a brush to loosen debris that might have found a corner to hide in, just to be sure.

The cleaner liquid packs and the batteries that keep the system moving will need to be replaced on a regular basis. To keep it simple, the system has panel lights to notify you when the cleaner is low or when the batteries will need replaced.

The Pros and Cons of Owning a Self-Cleaning Toilet

As with all fixtures, there are pros and cons to explore before deciding if a self-cleaning toilet is best for your home.

Pro: They are eco-friendly!

  • A self-cleaning toilet saves water, with most brands WaterSense certified at 1.28 GPF or lower.
  • Some brands even have a dual-flush system, which allows the user to choose if they flush with .8 gallons of water per flush, or the more powerful 1 GPF.
  • Using less water flushing the toilet can save on your water bill; little changes add up over the year!
  • The chemicals used to clean the toilet don’t sit in the bowl between cleanings. It uses clean tank water for every normal flush, which makes it safer for any household pets, curious children, and the environment.

Con: Cost.

  • The added features of a self-cleaning toilet can make them more expensive than the alternatives.
  • Some models require special cleaning packs, which is an added expense every few months. However,

Pro: A self-cleaning toilet saves time.

  • The bowl design and glaze coating are specifically crafted to minimize the amount of surface area that can collect waste.
  • Just close the lid, push a button on the tank, and walk away. You have different cleaning options with some models — for instance, a one minute cleaning or a ten minute deep cleaning, — and the cleaning agents do the work for you.
  • Push-button cleaning means that it’s easier to clean your toilet more frequently, ensuring a longer lifetime for your investment.   
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Con: Cleaning is still required!

  • Despite the self-cleaning feature, it is still recommended that you do manual cleaning and other maintenance on a regular basis. Don’t throw out that bathroom cleaning kit quite yet, technology hasn’t gotten that far.

Pro: Designer style.

  • Toilets are pretty generic, but new technologies have allowed new designs, so many brands offer different ceramic shades.
  • The toilet seat and lid are customized with self-cleaning toilets, changing away from the traditional, look as well as making it easier to remove them for more in-depth cleaning.

Con: Design differences.

  • Depending on the model and the features, the toilet flush and other controls may be located on the top of the tank, which could make it a challenge for some households with toilet-training children.

Pro: New technologies with all the same functionality.

  • The only parts that are different from a traditional toilet are contained within the tank lid or within the seat. When something goes awry, that’s a pretty simple fix!
  • Most models now have soft-close lids to keep things quieter, as well as lengthen the life of the seat and lid.

Con: Repairs.

  • Should the lid or seat break, you likely have to buy a replacement online. Since you can’t buy a new one at the corner hardware store, you have to wait for shipping.

Luxury Bathroom Experience

Self-cleaning toilets are part of an ever-evolving effort to improve the bathroom experience. If it’s possible to make the time spent in the bathroom more comfortable, the new technologies are catching up to find a way. Newer, luxury toilets like self-cleaning toilets come with features designed to make it more functional and comfortable.

There are many new features as technology catches up with the bathroom, and you may be surprised at how affordable some of high-end toilets really are. Common additional features might include:

  • Slow-closing lid
  • Heated seat
  • Automatic flush
  • Nightlight
  • Remote control
  • Self-deodorizer
  • Air dryer
  • Bidet washing features
  • Leak alerts, courtesy of built-in sensors

These features come standard on some luxury toilets. However, if you want to upgrade your bathroom experience without upgrading the entire toilet, you can find toilet seats that are built to include many of these features, allowing you to completely customize your self-cleaning toilet.

Just like a regular toilet, there are different colors, designs, and features that you can choose from when selecting a new self-cleaning toilet. They can be more expensive than their traditional counterparts, but they make up for it in convenience and style. It is up to you to choose the design that matches your personal style.

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