Will this hybrid loo spell the end of toilet roll?

The Japanese Toto bidet-toilet – starting price €2,250 – washes and dries your derriere

Toto toilet in situ: is it the business?

Toto toilet in situ: is it the business?

 

Lockdown may have lifted, but for those who never want to revisit a time when toilet paper became more valuable than gold, you can now pandemic-proof your home by investing in a Toto toilet.

The Japanese shower loo is a bidet-toilet hybrid that washes and dries your derriere after you use it, in effect dispensing with the need to use toilet paper altogether.

The concept is simple, and rather seductive. You sit on a heated seat while the bowl is demisted, preventing any waste sticking to it. After you’ve done your business, your backside is washed with warm water and then dried.

This isn’t a new idea. The brand Toto has sold more than 50 million units in the 41 years since it launched in 1980 and commands 70 per cent of the Japanese market. Anyone who got to visit the Land of the Rising Sun for the 2002 World Cup would have first-hand experience of the device.

Tilestyle already has several working models on its shop floor, but this weekend is the first time customers can try before they buy and decide whether it is the future or a busted flush.

The wall-hung toilet is electronically operated and will need a power connection to function. Doom merchants should know that during a power cut this means you won’t have any of the warm-water creature comforts.

Aesthetes may say that it is chunkier-looking than other wall-hung models. They may also complain that the wash wand resembles a tampon applicator, but the hygiene aspects are where the design comes into its own. The wand is situated above the rim to avoid contamination by blockages, and there is no touch, save for the control panel where you adjust water temperature and pressure.

Steep price

From a water usage point of view it has three- and six-litre flushes, as most modern toilets do, with only 300ml extra used to mist the pan and wash you with electrolysed water.

The basic EK2.0 model costs €2,250, which seems steep when you contrast with the price of a standard wall-hung model, which starts from about €550. The saving is more long-term, and quantified in toilet roll purchases. Currently a nine-roll pack of Cushelle costs €5 at Supervalu stores, or 0.25 cent a square. If your household uses a pack a week that’s an annual cost of €260, which means it will take you more than 8½ years to start saving with Toto.

Fringe benefits may be priceless, as anyone mystified by the rate at which the rolls seem to disappear will attest. Selfish behaviour such as using the last few sheets on the last roll without telling anyone, a practice usually discovered mid-movement, and often by the chief toilet paper purchaser, can lead to rows of epic proportions.

So is there no need to panic in the aisles any more? “Using a Toto won’t eliminate toilet paper altogether,” says Tony Murphy, bathroom sales manager at Tilestyle. “Some people will still use a few squares to dry themselves off.”

He says this style of toilet is going to become the norm, with many five-star hotels already having invested in them. The Shangri-La at the Shard, London, is one such establishment. It has installed 250 of them.

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