The toilet – from the loo to a prestige object

In bathrooms, the toilet is an intimate place where wellbeing plays an important role. The manufacturers from the Blue Responsibility sustainability initiative offer numerous innovative sanitary solutions which promote personal comfort while also being kind to the environment.

Toilet use has changed greatly over time and differs significantly throughout different cultural groups until the present day. In ancient Rome, large toilets with several adjacent seats were a place of gathering and negotiations – hence the expression of “big business” and “small business”. Cleaning with water – which is on the rise again today with shower toilets – also went through different phases during the course of history. During the 17th and 18th century, cleaning with water was regarded as unhygienic and people in French palaces started using silk for cleaning up on the toilet. The wish for privacy in the toilet only arose in the mid 19th century: a communal place became a quiet place – one of the reasons why bathrooms were kept small well into the 1990s.

Today, toilet habits and bathrooms are changing again. A GfK study commissioned by Geberit found a gradual breakdown of the toilet taboo: Around 57 per cent of married or cohabitating adults are not bothered if their partner is in the same room while they use the toilet. “This result should not mislead us to think that the toilet is no longer a very intimate room, though. There is a big difference between being tolerated and being welcome,” Volker Röttger from Geberit emphasises. The brand manufacturers from Blue Responsibility therefore offer numerous toilet variants which meet the individual requirements of users while being kind to the environment. After all, with 33 litres per day and person, toilets use the second largest amount of water in a household after showers.

Maximum hygiene for a good feeling
The feeling of hygiene is closely linked with wellbeing. Odours have a great influence on this. Unpleasant odours can therefore be extracted directly from the toilet bowl and removed from the room with an odour extraction system as offered by Geberit or Mepa. “It can be triggered manually with a switch or automatically with electronic user detection,” explains Veit Szpak from Mepa.

Shower toilets provide a special level of hygiene and comfort. They use warm water to provide intimate hygiene at the press of a button. The shower toilet can be optionally equipped with other comfort functions such as hot air drying or odour extraction. A new body awareness and increased hygiene demands mean that toilet showers – which are already used in four out of five households in Japan – are also more and more becoming a wellness and lifestyle product in Germany.

The product design also provides more hygiene and makes the bathroom easier to clean: The rimless toilets from Ideal Standard and Keramag allow maximum hygiene through uniform surfaces. “To do away with the flushing rim, we analysed the flow behaviour of water and developed a special flushing technique with three water streams,” explains Thomas Kreitel from Ideal Standard. A study by the Hybeta hygiene institute carried out microbiological tests on rimless Keramag toilets and was able to show that rimless toilets are more hygienic. Another hygiene benefit is provided by electronic actuation plates which trigger the flushing cycle without skin contact and by cisterns with independent hygiene flushing to ensure drinking water hygiene even in infrequently used guest bathrooms. The forced flushing of the toilet reliably flushes the entire pipe section to prevent stagnant water.

Lifelong comfort through clever systems
Flexible toilet solutions help to implement comfort in all phases of life. Viega and Mepa, for example, offer height-adjustable toilet elements. Viega provides continuous height adjustment by up to eight centimetres at the press of a button. The user can raise and lower the toilet like an office chair at any time. Mepa offers special pre-wall elements which allow the toilet to be adjusted by up to seven centimetres even when tiled. This is ensured by special profile recesses where the fixing screws can be adjusted. Ideal Standard also offers a solution for extra comfort with a toilet that is nine centimetres wider than standard models. To ensure that bathroom users feel comfortable, the toilet should also meet certain design demands, as Veit Szpak explains: “Toilets are an important image factor, especially in guest toilets, but also in semi-public areas like restaurants or offices. The appearance and condition of the toilet says a lot about the owner's character and their appreciation of guests, visitors or employees.” That is why even trigger plates are now being turned into design objects using shape, colour and light. The night time orientation light from Geberit also provides an ideal symbiosis of design and functionality: The automatic user detection activates as soon as someone approaches the sanitary module and the soft orientation light guides the user safely to the toilet. It is not necessary to switch on the main light.

Smart solutions for sustainable use of resources

In private households, 63 per cent of drinking water is used in the bathroom with 27 per cent used by toilets. The German sanitaryware industry is therefore continuously working on water saving solutions. In addition to dual volume flushing and start/stop functions, numerous toilets are equipped with water saving flushing systems as a standard. Many Keramag toilets use 4.5 litres of water per flushing cycle regardless of user behaviour. Reliable and durable drain valve technology, e.g. from Mepa, furthermore prevent leaking seals to allow no waste of the precious resource. The rimless toilets also have a positive effect on the environment. “Without a flushing rim, there are no more hard-to-reach areas. The inside of the bowl is easy to clean which saves time, water and cleaning agents,” explains Beate Vetter from Keramag. “Toilets are increasingly turning into a design oriented wellness object. They combine functionality, design, comfort aspects and sustainability,” Wolfgang Burchard from Blue Responsibility summarises.

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