Self-cleaning toilets aim to automate an unpleasant task

Few people look forward to cleaning the bathroom. This job can often be completed fairly quickly, but you're unlikely to enjoy the process of removing scum and grime from your sink, shower, and toilet.

Self-cleaning toilets are designed to make your bathroom cleanup a little easier. They first began to appear in luxury hotels, and some cities have adopted them for public restrooms. They are now readily available to include in private homes, although you might have to question whether their cost outweighs their convenience.

Not every self-cleaning toilet works in the same way. Consumer Reports says one popular option, the ActiClean from American Standard, uses replaceable cartridges to dispense cleaning solution into the toilet bowl. The toilet gives options for a quick clean or a deep clean, and its design eliminates the hard to clean rim where dirt often builds up. The ActiClean also doesn't cost much more than a standard toilet.

Some toilets employ several different methods to get rid of any dirt or germs. Adriana Velez, writing for the National Association of Realtors, says the Neorest 750H Dual Flush toilet from Toto uses pressurized water to scrub the bowl, along with an electrolyzed water rinse to alter the electrical charge of dirt particles and remove them from the sides of the toilet. It also uses an ultraviolet light to eliminate any microorganisms lingering beneath the lid.

In addition to providing convenience, these toilets can also add a luxurious upgrade to your home. Some models incorporate a self-cleaning feature as part of a wider array of items. Toulmin Cabinetry & Design, a kitchen and bathroom remodeling company in Tuscaloosa, Ala., says the Kohler Numi model also includes a bidet and air dryer, a deodorizer, a heated seat, and a touchscreen control pad.

These "smart toilets" often use less water than their simpler counterparts, and a bidet function can help reduce household use of toilet paper. They can also be more convenient for those who are hoping to "age in place" as they get older.

One of the main drawbacks of a self-cleaning toilet is cost. Simpler models fall into a more affordable price range, but more luxurious ones will put a serious dent in your bank account. For example, the Neorest model sells for $10,200 while the Numi model will put you out $6,400.

Even though models like the ActiClean are less expensive, they still come with associated costs. This toilet will require periodic changes to its cleaning cartridges, which cost $12 apiece – several times the cost of a simple spray cleaner.

More complex toilets may also require you to make some upgrades to your bathroom. Additional plumbing may be necessary for a bidet or self-cleaning function to work properly. The high-end features will also require a battery or connection to electrical outlet to function.

Even with all of these features, the toilet won't be completely self-cleaning. Express Plumbing Service, an Idaho company, notes how you'll still need to manually scrub the seat and other surfaces that aren't covered by the self-cleaning function.

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