2019 Toilet Trends

One inventor described the near future of bathroom design as “the decade of digitalization of the bathroom.”

New technology like programmable taps and “super toilets” are already here. These recent innovations are combining with things like bidets and ergonomic toilets, that have been around for a long time in other parts of the world, to revolutionize the way Americans potty in 2019.

Toilet Tech

Tech and toilets: two words that normally go together. But toilets are long overdue for some updates and improvements. As this article in Gizmodo points out, toilet design has been pretty much the same for over a century. It turns out, there are some good reasons for this. We still haven’t come up with anything cheaper and more durable than porcelain for the bowl itself.

 

But as for the flushing mechanism and the seat, it’s a whole new world. Toilet technology has grown rapidly in recent years and so has demand for features that until recently were foreign to the American market.

Heated Seats

Anyone who’s sat on one of these knows what an amazing difference it makes in terms of comfort. It’s almost alarming at first because you don’t expect sitting on the toilet to feel so good. Some smart toilets now include foot warmers as well to take the chill out of late night and early morning trips to the loo.

Nightlights

You can now add some color to your bowl and find your way in the dark with toilet nightlights.

Music & Deodorizers

New smart toilets can play a few bars of Chopin on a small speaker while you do your duty. This isn’t to serenade you so much as cover-up any unpleasant sounds.

Automatic deodorizers do the same for nasty smells.

Automated Seats

These use an infrared beam that’s triggered when you walk away to close the toilet seat automatically so you don’t have to remember to.

Remote Control

Your toilet can now be controlled by a remote interface that’s more sanitary than buttons and makes your toilet feel like an app.

After-Market Upgrades

Many of these features can be added on for substantially less than the cost of a brand new smart toilet. The LumaWarm adds a nightlight and heated seat to your existing toilet for just over $100. The Illumibowl nightlight was featured on Shark Tank.

Bidets

Maybe you’ve seen one of these in a European hotel; maybe you thought it was for washing your feet. Maybe you got squirted by a built-in bidet after pushing the wrong button on a high-tech toilet in Japan.

Until recently, bidets were almost unheard of in this country, and Americans who encountered them abroad either ignored them or made jokes. Then one day, a brave American traveler tried one, realized it felt amazing and left them feeling shower-clean and fresh.

Word soon spread, and America warmed to the bidet.

Bidets have tons of benefits for pretty much everyone: women, men, seniors, and folks with disabilities. And they save toilet paper which makes them environmentally friendly.  

High-end options toilets with built-in bidets from brands like Toto and Kohler that include all the other features of a smart toilet mentioned above. But you can also retrofit a bidet to your existing toilet. The Swash 1000 is an inexpensive option that can be fitted to most commodes.

Ergonomics

In a BBC News segment about the future of bathrooms, one designer describes how he reimagined our “deep-seated” emotional connection with the toilet. All puns aside, the designer makes a good point: The things we learn at the earliest age are the things we challenge the least. Part of the reason that toilets haven’t changed much over the years is that we’re all used to doing our… business the way we’ve always done it.

Unfortunately, the way we’re used to answering nature’s call in the west is not how our bodies are designed to do it. Talking toilets are cool, but another thing they get right in Asia is about as low-tech as it gets: the humble squat toilet.

If you haven’t traveled in that part of the world, you may be familiar with the newest old thing in toilets from those hilarious Squatty Potty ads. Some new toilets offer a luxury version of the same concept that offers the health benefits of squatting with the comfort of sitting.

Accessibility

Not all toilet design trends are trendy. As our population ages, accessibility features are in high demand. These include higher toilet seats, handrails that don’t look like something that belongs in a hospital, and easy-to-read digital interfaces to make a digitalized bathroom age-friendly.

One trend is to future-proof a bathroom by installing accessibility features before they’re needed, so the bathroom becomes one less thing to think about when adjusting to old age.  

Better Bathrooms for a Better World

It may seem like heated toilet seats and digital deodorizers are the height of “first world problems.” But consumers can feel good knowing that the same tech trends making first world bathrooms more comfortable are driving the development of better sanitation in parts of the world where even basic plumbing doesn’t exist.

At a recent conference in China, the world’s toilet manufacturers and Bill Gates met to discuss ways to bring better bathrooms to the whole world.

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