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New no-touch toilets don’t make sense

By From page A2 | July 06, 2014

We have taken the next step in a national germaphobe panic attack: Kohler is promoting its new no-touch toilet.

You read that right: A toilet that you don’t have to touch.

At least to flush. There might be some touching necessary to accomplish other tasks, but I suspect that the enablers will come up with a way to allow you to use the toilet without getting out of your plastic bubble.

(An aside: Based on stories told to me by Mrs. Brad, it’s already common for women to refuse to sit on public toilets, resulting in a mess that likely makes women’s restrooms as gross as men’s public restrooms. But that’s the subject of another column.)

Kohler’s Cimarron toilet – yeah, the name sounds like a 1950s Western TV series – flushes when you wave your hand above the tank lid, triggering a sensor. It doesn’t even have a flush lever – the only way to flush is to wave your hand over the tank.

Which makes it likely that anyone who gets such a model will have plenty of awkward encounters with guests who leave unflushed toilets.

The new model came after Kohler commissioned a study of 800 consumers in the United States and found that more than half of them were paranoid about germs in the bathroom – including two-thirds of mothers with children at home.

A reminder: Paranoia is a psychological disorder. It’s concern about something that’s not true.

Are there germs in the bathroom? Yes. Will they kill you? Only if you’re so obsessed with them that you bring a plugged-in toaster into the bathtub.

But in the wussification of America, we’re now not only afraid of bad germs, we’re afraid of all germs – especially in public restrooms.

(Another aside: Did you ever consider that perhaps using public restrooms and actually touching the inside of the bathroom door – considered the dirtiest place in the room – would help you build up your immunities? Embrace the germs! They make you strong! But that’s the subject of another column.)

Here’s the worst thing about the touchless toilet: It protects you from germs in your own house.

So you buy this toilet to avoid your own germs. Next up, Kohler will allow you to use a toothbruth that doesn’t enter your mouth, so you can’t get your own germs.

The new toilet – and I don’t blame Kohler for manufacturing it, the company is responding to the marketplace – is designed to make you to feel like you’re avoiding contamination by finishing your business on the toilet and then waving your hands wildly over the tank.

Sure, you might avoid germs. But you’ll look ridiculous, which for my money is worse than getting germs.

(One final aside for the paranoid moms with young children at home who want to avoid germs: Just wait until your kid discovers how much fun it is to magically make the toilet flush by waving your hands over it! But that’s the subject for another column.)

Here’s the bottom line: Like the rhythm, the germs are gonna get you. Rather than spending extra on toilet models, embrace the germs.

If you ask me, rather than focusing on touchless models, the toilet industry should focus on something much better: Built-in televisions!

But that’s the subject for another column.

Reach Brad Stanhope at 427-6958 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bradstanhope.

Brad Stanhope

Brad Stanhope

Brad Stanhope is a former Daily Republic editor. He began his career at the DR in the last millennium. He spent 24 years as a sports editor, associate editor and news editor before leaving the Daily Republic in 2014. Brad lives in Suisun City with his wife, Mrs. Brad, and two sons. He enjoys cheese.

Discussion | 3 comments

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  • BobJuly 06, 2014 - 5:36 am

    Trouble is they tend to flush in the middle of you doing your business. Nothing better then being splashed by what you're getting rid of. Kaiser Vacaville is really bad about this. Their toilets are going of night and day. Not sure how they save water in a drought

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  • JimboJuly 06, 2014 - 10:08 am

    Ah the dreaded hospital toilets. When they do flush they sound like they could suck down an intact buffalo. Not the best time for a scare that can make a person jump up.

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  • AWAOctober 20, 2014 - 2:41 am

    I don't think it is necessarily/entirely the germ factor. Having a Touchless Toilet is innovative especially in this day and age of having automated devices - devices that do it for you. It's also a pretty nifty gadget if you ask me - the cool factor. I mean we have robotic vacuums now that vacuum the floor, mop the floor too. You've got either remote controlled lawnmowers or lawnmowers that mow your lawn by themselves. Garbage cans where the lid opens by sensor - excellent for when your hands are full and for not contaminating yourself with filthy germs. I love my garbage can where the lid opens with a wave of my hand, and my recycling bin as well. Moreover, I completely enjoy my Delta touch faucet. My lights are on sensors too (inside & out) - just walk by when it is dark and voila - let there be light. Automatic soap dispensers save soap and no touching there either making the surrounding area cleaner and liquid soap free especially when you have kids. Same goes for automatic toothpaste dispensers. Know what else is pretty cool? My automatic paper towel dispenser that will dispense and cut any size sheet I need with, you guessed it, a wave of my hand. Hec, even my truck starts its engine with the press of a button from hundreds of feet away. My TV even turns off if no one is watching it. Having a Touchless Toilet sounds pretty good to me, and I would think one would flush the toilet more so; but here's a really good reason to have a touchless toilet and why I bought the adapter kit from Kholer and soon will try out the new Delta version: my damn handle gets stuck constantly, and for those who are unaware of this, my toilet could run constantly flushing for days, and I am not the only one with that problem either. And, if the toilet happens to get clogged when this happens, we're talking major flooding of disgusting used toilet water. I know cause it already happened to me. Another reason is that my toilet handle isn't very flat - it's more of a Victorian style and the toilet lid won't rest flush, or totally upright when in the up position. This is not only bothersome, but damages the lid on my automatic toilet seat that automatically turns on a deodorizing fan and fragrance when it senses your butt pressure on the seat. I would also like to point out that yes, the toilet handle is probably full of germs & bacteria. If you can't prevent that so much un public, why not at least prevent it in your own home whereas your home is supposed to be your safe haven. You can build up your immune system in plenty of other places. I say, clap on, clap off.

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