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Every one of these articles gets the pitch of these toilets completely wrong - for every person, and in every scenario, these are not universally better.

Consider the following experiment:

Smear some mud on your arm. Now, using a jet stream the power of a squirt gun and very low precision, wash it all off in 10 seconds. Not so easy. Then - imagine if you put mud on a place with hair! Not only will it not be clean without some actual washing, we haven't even gotten to the drying part yet.

Fact of the matter is, these do not replace toilet paper. I thought they were OK (Google) until I decided to use toilet paper after - and I was shocked and disappointed. My routine simply got longer and more complex, with a small value add of washing with water instead of dry paper.

Sorry about the grim detail - I think the 'squeamish about bathroom routine' point of the article is right - just in the wrong way!




This is pretty insightful. I used them at Google as well and discovered similar variabilities. Doing some A/B testing (trust me testing on the toilet is encouraged there :-) I did find that I used less paper, but not 'no' paper. And it wasn't just for 'drying purposes' it was to insure everything had been taken care of.

Another observation was that you got better with the wash over time. Once familiarized with the placement controls of the unit and the 'feel' (sorry) of the action you could achieve better results. There was some interesting speculation on what a 'complete' fix might entail, and one of the hardware engineers put a 'watts up' meters in line with the seat to get a read on its actual usage (about .037 kwH per month),

My take away was that it was an improvement but not a $1,500 improvement (or $4,500 if I wanted to do it to all three toilets in my house). It also increases water usage, albeit modestly, which is sort of anti-california but that was before I talked with the toilet guys who said the water saving toilets only save water on urine flushes since it it typical for solid matter to require more than one flush cycle. (it still saves water but still).


I read a version of this argument in some US newspaper a while back. It completely misses the point.

These ass-jet toilets are not intended to replace toilet paper. They are for getting your asshole (and ladyparts, but I can't testify on that topic) much cleaner in much less time than with conventional American toilets and dry paper alone.

You use the ass-jet, then paper. That's how they work. (For a heinous bowel-movement situation, you might do paper, ass-jet, paper again.) You aren't supposed to skip the paper!

Using your mud example, if you got mud all over your head, would you rather just keep scraping your head with dry paper towels, and use up a couple rolls worth and still have some mud left over, or use some water too? Same principle.

If you take a perfect shit (love when that happens), then sure, it just slides out and leaves behind minimal debris. Great. But let's say you ate a plate of Uncle Jim's nachos the night before, along with a twelve pack of PBR, and you definitely didn't achieve shitting perfection this time. That is when these toilets really shine.

The number of times you have to wipe your ass to achieve that comforting pure-white-no-residue final wipe, that tells you your asshole is clean, is astronomically higher with paper only than it is with an ass-jet plus paper. I mean, have you ever had one of those wipe-it-ten-time-and-dammit-it-still-isn't-clean kind of shits? You just never have that happen with the ass-jet. The water helps wash your doody-hole AND that moistens the toilet paper (for the first post-jet wipe). That makes it work better, just like a wet dishrag is more effective at cleaning a dish than a dry one.

I personally would be surprised if populations that lack ass-jet toilets didn't have a higher incidence of hemmhorrhoids from all that wiping, over a lifetime. I don't think we have that long-term data yet.

But from personal experience, they have saved me thousdands and thousands of asshole-wipes over the years, and I could never go back to a the barbaric American toilets of my youth.

(When I moved back to America several years ago, I brought a Toto washlet toilet seat with me. And the new apartment that I just bought in Tokyo had many options to specify, but the toilet wasn't one of them--just as patio11 suggests above, the place came with a brand new whiz-bang model featuring the latest in shitter technology from Toto, complete with not only heated seat, ass-jet, and wall-mounted control panel, but also sensors that allow it to raise the seat automatically as I approach, and flush for me when I am done.)


I'm laughing my ass off... Great and insightful post!


You're thinking either/or instead of "finishing the job".

When you dive into a mud pit, do you wipe yourself off with paper towels until you're done, or do you use a bit of soap & water?


I think you completely missed his point.


I can confirm @aptimpropriety's claim after having tested this in bidets in multiple countries. It doesn't matter how high you turn on the water pressure, if you grab a piece of toilet paper afterwards it seems to always find some... remainders.


I believe those are referred to as "Klingons."

I've never had the opportunity to use a bidet, but on top of the lack of a thorough cleaning, aren't you dripping wet after?

Even in a half squat after the fact, I would expect this unsanitary water to run down one's legs.


The article states "Even still, many users of bidets use some amount of toilet paper, especially for drying purposes."


Sure, but now you are chasing rivulets of fecal water running down your legs. That is some shit I'd rather not deal with.


Perhaps you are one of the stand-to-wipe types, but if you remain seated throughout the drying operation you will not have to deal with any rivulets.

Also some toilets have an air-dryer.


Air dryers are incredibly bad. Hand dryers are practically a waste of time since they barely do anything IMHO.


Having used a toilet with an air dryer I will say it worked, although toilet paper is far quicker.

It is kind of nice to have hot air blown up your ass though.


Hand dryers are very efficient! They don't seem to do anything for the first ~20 seconds, but in the last 5 seconds you feel all the water evaporating. That's because only the water surface evaporates, until your skin is exposed dry. You are probably like most people who I see use them in public bathroom, using them only for <10 seconds.


Relevant TED talk:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=2...

tl;dw: thorougly shake, the wipe with one paper folded once


You're probably right. But I can wipe with a towel in 2 seconds. 20 seconds is far too long to be any use.


When using hand dryer, spread the moist all over your hands as if you were washing them. It isn't instant, but they sure work well.


Tried the Dyson ones? They're amazing.


While my mom was in home hospice, someone purchased these for us to help her:

http://goo.gl/9YcQh

After she passed, my Dad just threw them in the guest bathroom. Using both paper and these (preferred order is up to the user) seems to fit the bill for just about any, uh, circumstance, and I've had numerous people make positive comments on it which is strange in and of itself.

At first I thought it was a bit wasteful, but I think many times you can get by with less total paper. YTPMV.


Use the paper first. Then some soap & water.


Or just take a shower afterwards.


With Bidets you may be correct because you have less water flow and also less control of the direction. A hand held bathroom bidet sprayer is so much better than a stand alone bidet and this is why:1. It's less expensive (potentially allot less) 2. You can install in yourself = no plumber expense 3. It works better by providing more control of where the water spray goes and a greater volume of water flow. 4. It requires no electricity and there are few things that can go wrong with it. 5. It doesn't take up any more space, many bathrooms don't have room for a stand alone bidet. 6. You don’t have to get up and move from the toilet to the bidet which can be rather awkward at times to say the least. Available at http://www.bathroomsprayers.com



Very informative post. Thanks for getting into some details that were bouncing around in my mind.

The article makes it sound as though you don't need toilet paper and that didn't sound quite right unless the jet was pretty significant and included some kind of soap.


The article actually states "...many users of bidets use some amount of toilet paper, especially for drying purposes."


But it's confusing. It also says washlets "render toilet paper obsolete."


Drying purposes != Cleaning purposes.

The only thing worse than cleaning feces paste off my butt with paper that shields my hand would be cleaning diluted feces water off my butt with paper that soaks the water through to my hand.


I would like to point out that women use washlets when they urinate and they are, especially with a built-in dryer, infinitely better than toilet paper alone.

Further, they shouldn't require much precision as the area we are talking about isn't all that large. Of course, until you get to the high end models, you generally don't get position adjustment or oscillating cleansing.

Maybe the Google ones you used were just poor? The ones I used in Japan ranged from excellent to ok.


Congrats on introducing the female 'angle' as it were. A group of male engineer types discussing the merits would tend to completely forget that a huge percentage of toilet visits are by females for no 1 purposes only, and perhaps a light wash followed by a quick blow dry are more than sufficient.

I have tried these in Japan and the first time I hit the squirt button I got a shock-inducing surprise at how accurate they are. It's like they are laser guided or something, such is the accuracy of hitting the target.


Hello, I've lived in Japan for about 3 years now and I find these toilets indispensable. For the situation you described, I have experienced the same thing but I have found that there are a few ways of getting around it. The main way is the "move" function, which oscillates the nozzle back and forth. Usually you can activate this by pressing the spray button twice or pressing a dedicated button. You can also usually manually adjust the nozzle position to better suit your needs. Additionally, some of them have dryers which further negates the need for toilet paper. My routine is usually spray, oscillate, check with one or two TP squares, and then dry. This saves me from a lot of hassle and saves a lot of toilet paper. Excuse my vulgarity, but I've had times where what would otherwise turn out to be a "nightmare shit" became a relatively pleasant experience. It's those times where I can really appreciate modern technology. I think Toto did a good job to try to get it to fit the majority of people's needs, but it seems some manual tweaking and button pushing is still necessary sometimes.


Sounds like your hairy ass is the real problem. Ever considered trimming down there? Dry paper might afford you the illusion of cleanliness, but I guarantee you your bum remains dirty without a thorough washing.


shattaf's (North American salad sprayer but for the restroom) work much better then the Japanese toilets, however I would only want to use one in my residence not a public/work restroom. They are common in Brazil and the Middle East, I think the heat makes being "unclean" a bigger issue.


Both shattafs and bidets (which is the whole separate ceramic apparatus, not just the spray) are common here in Brazil. I always though it was because of bigger French/Islamic influence.


Are bidets really that common in Brazil? I had one in my old home but I don't recall spotting them in new houses or apartments.


That may be right. Maybe the Portuguese brought them over after being influenced by France.


Wow, I've never hear of a shattaf before.

Is incredible aim required, or does it just spray all over and go through a drain in the floor?


It is a fairly simple process, you do it while seated so the water falls into the toilet.


They have more useful features than just the bidet/water stream, such as the heated seat and how they won't slam when you close the lid.


Just an FYI, Toto sells regular toilets in the US. They come with seats that don't slam. I think Toto also sells seats separately that do that.


There is something wrong with your jet/mud/arm analogy, because it doesn't translate the real life results. The size, location, mobility, etc. make a difference.

Also, these toilets come with a warm air dryer as well.

I also saw them for the first time at Google, and then I bought one for home. It saves a ton of waste and you'll be and feel cleaner afterwards.

Granted, it does take a little more time to exit after you are done. But, if people were really in a hurry why would they keep a magazine/book by the toilet?


I must disagree -- in my experience, the jet/mud/arm analogy translates precisely into real life results.

Also, should you find an additional paper pass to be necessary, you'll find it complicated by the fact that the area to be wiped is now wet. Toilet paper notoriously doesn't hold up well when soaking wet.


Dunno, perhaps the brand makes a difference. Ours is Brondell. You need just a couple of pieces of toilet paper after the warm air dryer if any.

Also, the warm seat, warm water, warm air changes the whole thing, especially in winter.

For something that you will use every day, if you appreciate the advantages, I think $500 is an acceptable price.


Then - imagine if you put mud on a place with hair!

Sounds like you just answered the question of why these are popular in Japan but not in America.

Doesn't explain their popularity in Europe, though.


No, they definitely don't replace toilet paper. But they can make it so you don't have to use nearly as much.


you're doing it wrong.




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