Despite a deep-rooted (or should that be “seated”) love of toilet humour, discussing what goes on in the smallest room remains firmly off limits at times.
This prudishness, however, means Brits are missing out on some serious toilet tech. In Japan, the market penetration rate of these high-tech facilities is now more than 80 per cent, with bum rinsing, privacy singing and self-cleaning lavatories even found in pub conveniences.
Smart toilets are readily available in the UK, albeit at a premium. Roca’s In-Wash Inspira, the original Japanese smart toilet TOTO, and even Washloo – a thoroughly British alternative – just a click away. If those still seem like a step too far, you can at least upgrade your toilet routine to make it a whole lot less, well, crappy.
SpotLESS Materials has developed a two-step hydrophobic Toilet Spray ($15) for your toilet bowl that stops anything sticking to it. The first spritz grows molecules that look like nanoscopic hairs, while the second infuses a thin layer of lubricant around them, creating an unfeasibly slippery surface. The effect can last up to 500 flushes, prevent blushes, save water and make your bathroom a bit more hygienic.
Even with nanoscience doing some of the heavy lifting, cleaning the toilet remains a chore absolutely no one relishes. Central to the task is the toilet brush, a product so disgusting it casts serious doubts on the idea of humans being even remotely civilised.
But it was one such filth receptacle that made Tom Keen develop the FlushBrush (£20), a toilet cleaner (top image) that removes any need for a small bowl of stagnant faeces water to be lurking in the corner of the bathroom.
Rather than having to take the dirty brush head out of the toilet, Keen developed a system where a hygienic silicone brush head sits inside the toilet bowl in a cradle. When required, clip in the handle – which can be separately wall mounted – clean the bowl and then return the brush to the cradle. The head is then rinsed by the flush, and if it should fall in the bowl, it has been designed to float, so can be lifted out by locking on to the hidden magnets in the handle.
How to unblock a toilet
Homeworking and homeschooling has put unusual amounts of pressure on our collective cisterns, so much so that “how to unblock a toilet” was among the most searched terms of last summer. Again, it’s not a task to relish, but even without a plunger you can quickly get things flowing without calling a professional.
Stretching cling film tightly over the bowl and flushing creates pressure, ballooning the film, which you can then push to force the blockage down. Caustic soda, boiling water and even washing up liquid can also work.
But, when all else fails, the cordless 18V Ryobi R18DA-0 Auger (£100) can easily unblock drains up to 50mm in diameter. The 7.6m length of 6mm cable can be extended at 11.5cm per second, to get to the blockage quickly. A cable clamp helps to hold everything in place while tackling tough obstructions, as the rear drain port prevents dirty water from building up in the drum. With a run time of up to 108 min, if this can’t clear your pipes, then it’s time to call a professional in.
While you’re waiting for them to arrive, set the iRobot Braava Jet running. Bringing navigation prowess to hard-floor mopping, the Braava Jet M Series (right now reduced by £140 to £560) maps out the area that needs to be washed and uses a combination of wet mopping pads and jet spray to give the surface a deep clean.
Ashley Mullins from Pimlico Plumbers has these key pieces of advice for anyone attempting the danger-filled task of unblocking a toilet.
“If you think your toilet is suffering from a basic blockage have a go at unblocking it yourself with a plunger,” he says. “This should be well within the skill set of most people, but the key here is to take things steady, and not to apply too much pressure.”
First things, first. See if other nearby sinks are still draining, Mullins advises. If they also appear to be blocked then you have a bigger problem. Call a plumber. Once you have ascertained that you do indeed have a blocked toilet, “when deploying your plunger ensure it is fully inserted, and that you use a regular up and down motion to produce best results,” Mullins says. Think it’s sorted? Try a test flush. If the water level still rises in the pan, plunge again. Things not flowing freely after several attempts? Call a plumber. Repeated plunging can damage a fitting and result in an even worse problem.
Mullins’ key tips, however, concern both force and your face. “Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to use excessive force when plunging as you can wrench the toilet from the wall. And always wear googles, or eye coverings of some kind, and remember to close your mouth!”
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