Flushed with success? How toilet technology is changing


We’ve come a long way since the days of the chamber pot and the cry of “garde à l’eau!” as people chucked the contents on to the streets. (Did you know it is this phrase that led to the English word ‘loo’?)

Over the years, toilets have become rather more sophisticated - from Sir John Harrington, the godson of Elizabeth I, who invented the flushable water closet in the late 1500s, to Alexander Cummings’ revolutionary S-trap, patented in 1775 - there have long been efforts to improve bathroom technology.

It was the 20th century that saw bathroom technology develop rapidly, with the advent of flushable valves, close-coupled toilets and automatic flushing systems among other introductions.

However, the toilet of the 21st century is yet another concept and we are seeing the rise of the smart toilet. Not surprisingly, the Japanese are at the forefront of these high-tech developments.

Smart toilet? Well, yes. Seat heating, coloured lighting, automatic lid openers and slow-closing lids, built-in deodorisers (no need for a spray of VIPoo, with that particular feature), and self-cleaning features such as using UV light, which interacts with the bowl to electrolyse and then sanitise the water. Even privvies that have music playing while you’re on the throne and those that can be controlled by an app.

These are fun - OK, not absolutely necessary - advancements that we’re likely to see only in the homes of celebs and multi-millionaires who have thousands of pounds to spend on a super-lav.

Other technologies, however, such as remote-controlled bidet with adjustable washing and flushing modes, and adjustable air dryers, are proving to be hugely helpful for the disabled and the elderly. We can imagine a time when these will become mainstream.

But controlling a toilet from an app and having mood music and tunes playing? Not for us, thanks!

10 things everyone should know about hard water and limescale

  1. Approximately 13 million households in the UK live in a hard water area — that amounts to 60% of the population! Use this map to see if you live in a very hard, hard or soft water area, or alternatively, contact your local authority. Hard Water
  2. Hard water occurs in areas where the bedrock consists of porous, sedimentary substances like limestone or sandstone. When rainfall seeps through the rock, it dissolves chemical compounds and carries traces of them along with it. Water with a high mineral content (most commonly calcium and magnesium) then makes its way into the local water supply.
  3. Engineered water supply systems now mean that even soft water areas might receive hard water.
  4. The minerals in hard water, when heated, are what cause limescale to appear on surfaces — which creates all kinds of problems.
  5. Hard water can be bad for your hair and your skin. It aggravates skin conditions like eczema, and the ion deposits can dull your hair’s colour and shine and give it a coarse texture.
  6. Washing your clothes and towels in hard water can make the fabric hard and rough to the touch, and white materials may lose their brightness or turn grey.
  7. Limescale build-up can end up causing parts to fail in household appliances like showers, boilers, kettles, washing machines and dishwashers.
  8. Hard water can make your heating and hot water bills more expensive, as it reduces the efficiency of boilers and appliances. According to The Carbon Trust, “a 1mm layer of limescale will cause a 7% increase in energy input to the boiler to meet the same heat demand.” This amounts to an extra £150 to £200 in household bills every year.
  9. Appliances need to be repaired or replaced more frequently due to limescale damage, incurring further hassle and costs.
  10. You may need to use extra detergent and washing up liquid to get your clothes and dishes clean, as soap tends not to lather as effectively in hard water.

Water conditioning units can prevent the build-up of limescale in your showers and taps, increasing the efficiency of your boiler and saving you money in the long term. Click here to find out more about our WRAS-approved ActivFlo range.