What Is A Self-Cleaning Toilet?

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Last Updated on November 11, 2022 by acechapman

If you want your bathroom to remain clean and tidy, cleaning the toilet is a must. Is it? Several manufacturers have started to produce self-cleaning toilet models in recent years. These self-cleaning toilets are a marketing trick that exploits our collective hate of the bathroom cleaning chore.

What is a self-cleaning toilet?

A self-cleaning toilet, as the name suggests, has a function that disinfects and cleans the toilet bowl. Most models have a separate button from the handle or flush button that activates special cleaning and disinfecting functions to reduce the risk of unsanitary stains and omissions. These results can be achieved in slightly different ways by self-cleaning toilet manufacturers.

How Does A Self-Cleaning Toilet Work?

The self-cleaning toilet idea isn’t new. However, their prices are falling and they are appearing in more homes. American Standard has just released ActiClean, a self-cleaning toilet that is affordable for all budgets. It has two components that make it self-cleaning, a cleaner-based mechanism and a design.

The cartridge that contains the liquid cleaner sits on top of the lid of the toilet tank. Its liquid cleaner swirls through the bowl using either a Quick Clean or Deep Clean cycle. These cycles differ in their time-consuming bowl soak times of one minute or ten minutes, respectively. The cartridge will last for nine weeks if you only use it once per week. You also need to change the batteries.

Your toilet will be clean thanks to its design. The Clean Curve Rim, which eliminates dirt trapping in the rim cavity, makes it easy to clean.

Toto’s self-cleaning toilet uses an integrated ultraviolet light to break down dirt and grime inside the bowl and then rinses it with ewater+ (or Electrolyzed water) to clean it.

On the other hand, Kohler’s Veil Intelligent Toilet is close to self-cleaning but only works on the stainless steel cleansing tool (the bidet function) and not the actual bowl.

self-cleaning toilet
Image Credit: American Standard

Self-cleaning Toilet Features

Specialized Toilet Bowl Design

Stains can form in most toilets where the water from the flush is not sufficient to remove the waste. If the toilet is not cleaned regularly, it can lead to unsightly stains.

The specially designed toilet bowl reduces the number of crevices and wrinkles in human waste that can accumulate when using self-cleaning toilets. Non-porous glazes are an additional feature in many top-of-the-line self-cleaning toilets. This helps to keep human waste from going where it shouldn’t.

Coating Materials and Specialized Cleaners

Self-cleaning toilets use specialized cleaning and disinfectant products. To prevent waste buildup, these materials are often applied to the toilet bowl. Many manufacturers of self-cleaning toilets include disinfecting chemicals that are released with every flush.

Increased Water Pressure

Self-cleaning toilets often have higher water pressure when flushing. Specially designed bowls eliminate human waste that could stick to regular toilet bowls.

Advanced Cleaning Elements

Advanced cleaning and disinfecting elements like UV Lights are some of the best features in self-cleaning toilets. These toilets come with a small UV light on the toilet seat lid. The UV light reacts with the cleaning solution in the water and the bowl’s photocatalytic clay cast when activated. These advanced technologies allow for thorough cleaning of your toilet at every flush.

What types of self-cleaning toilets are available?

Self-cleaning toilets represent one of the latest innovations in “advanced bathroom technology”. It is not uncommon for homeowners to find toilets that have multiple features and characteristics to enhance their total bathroom experience.

Heated seats

Many self-cleaning toilets are available with heated seats to ensure comfort while you’re using them.

Automatic Open-Close Technology

Some toilets that are self-cleaning have sensors that raise and lower the toilet seat. This may seem redundant, but it could be useful for those households that have absent-minded men who forget to lower their toilet seats. This will prevent germ accumulation when hands come in contact with soiled seats.

Automatic Flushing

Many self-cleaning toilets will also have automatic flushing. The Kohler K-5401-PA-0, for example, will include an integrated self-cleaning wand as well as a sensor that flushes away the waste when it is detected.


Some of these self-cleaning toilets will also offer deodorizing after every flush.

Electricity Or Battery Powered

If you want a self-cleaning toilet, you will need to choose between electric and battery-operated toilets. Many of the smarter or more intelligent toilets available on the market need an additional electrical connection. Other self-cleaning toilets have simpler designs and only require four batteries. Most toilets will need four double-A batteries in order to function.

self-cleaning toilet
Image Credit: TOTO USA

How much water do self-cleaning toilets use?

Self-cleaning toilets, which are relatively new on the market, use much less water than regular toilets. These products can use a maximum of 4.8 liters (1.28 gallons) of water per flush with the EPA WaterSense certificate. The minimum waste allowed is 350 grams. However, of the self-cleaning toilets we reviewed, none met the requirements of ultra-high-efficiency toilets, which must meet the standard of a maximum of 1.10 gallons per flush.

Is it possible to buy a dual flush, self-cleaning toilet?

The self-cleaning toilets come with heated seats and touchscreen remotes that allow you to access the “features” of the toilet. There are so many options available, it’s not surprising that many self-cleaning toilets on the market today offer dual-flush options. The Kohler K-5401-PA-0, for example, has both a full-flush and a half-flush option. A full flush takes 1.28 gallons, while a half flush takes just 0.8 gpf.

Are self-cleaning toilets healthy?

Self-cleaning toilets have been promoted as a way of keeping your home cleaner and more hygienic. However, they could also be causing indoor air pollution. Deodorizers in self-cleaning toilets can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into your home. They can also introduce chemicals you wouldn’t normally have in your home, and increase their usage.

Health risks of using air fresheners

One study found that air fresheners, even organic ones, can emit potentially dangerous chemicals and less than 10% of the ingredients are usually disclosed to the public.

Chemical Use

Homeowners who want to reduce their chemical use in their homes might be concerned by the harsh chemicals found in cleaning cartridges. Many toilets that are self-cleaning rely on liquid cleaning products installed inside the lid of the tank. These cartridges, which are similar to regular toilet cleaners you can use manually, most likely contain chemicals like bleach, sodium hypochlorite, and hydrochloric acid.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that hydrochloric acid can cause damage to the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes. Inhalation may cause irritation of the eyes, nose, respiratory tract, skin, and mucous membranes.

These chemicals are released into the tank and bowl when you activate the cleaning system. They are not just for self-cleaning toilets, they are also used in regular toilet cleaners.

For self-cleaning toilets to operate correctly, you have to purchase manufacturer-specific cartridges. Homeowners will likely be unable to choose healthier, more natural cleaning products. A push-button toilet cleaning system will likely lead to higher usage of chemical cleaners.

Are Self-Cleaning Toilets Better For Reducing The Use Of Cleaning Chemicals?

Homeowners can avoid these chemicals and opt for self-cleaning toilets. They focus on the design of the toilet bowl, which prevents dirt and grime from getting trapped in the rim cavity.

The best option for self-cleaning toilets is one that uses an integrated UV light to interact with the ceramic glaze of the bowl to break down dirt. Toto NeoRest, for example, has a UV light that is combined with Electrolyzed Water to lower the use of harsh cleaning chemicals.

self-cleaning toilet
Image Credit: Kohler

How long do self-cleaning toilets last?

Maintaining self-cleaning toilets requires some maintenance. Although you can cut down on the tedious task of cleaning your toilet bowl every week, it is still necessary to change cartridges and batteries frequently. They are as durable as regular toilets, but they don’t have the same warranty protection. For example, the Kohler Veil, Comfort Height, and self-cleaning toilet costs $5,500 and come with a 1-year limited warranty.

Do Smart Self-Cleaning Toilets Exist?

They do, and it’s amazing. Although smart, self-cleaning toilets are not necessarily connected to your home Wi-Fi system, sensors and other technologies are integrated into them.

Some smart toilets have sensors that can detect when someone is moving away and activate the flushing mechanism. The others have sensors that automatically raise or lower the lid of the toilet and touch screens next to it, which allow you to control features like the seat heater, bidet washer, and so on.

Pros and Cons of Self-Cleaning Toilets


  • The self-cleaning toilets allow homeowners to save time and not have to clean their toilet bowls manually every week. 
  • They use less water than regular toilets. 
  • The incorporation of UV light technology in some self-cleaning toilets helps reduce the dependence on harsh cleaning chemicals.


  • Self-cleaning toilets are more expensive than the toilets that homeowners can buy. The top-end smart toilets go for over $5,000. 
  • Some self-cleaning toilets can also be used to introduce chemicals deodorizers or other harsh cleaning chemicals into the home.
  • A battery or electricity is required for self-cleaning toilets. This adds to your home’s energy footprint.

Wrapping Up

A self-cleaning toilet is a great way to keep your toilet clean and tidy with little effort. 

They will be more expensive than standard toilets and you’ll have to continue changing the cleaning cartridge. They won’t clean everything completely, no matter how helpful they may be.

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