[Self-Cleaning Bathrooms]

February 25th, 2011

A few weeks ago my friend was telling me all about the self-cleaning bathrooms in Japan, and after hearing this I decided to see if the US has any.  Interestingly enough, there are a few cities that have implemented them.  New York City had 20 of the devices planned (this was in 2008, I’m not sure if they went through with them or not).  A New York Times article presented a very thorough description of the bathrooms, which I will summarize for your enjoyment.  A green light on the outside of the $100,000 bathroom door signifies that the room is vacant.  The user then pays 25 cents to enter the room, and upon doing so, the door opens like an elevator.  The actual room has a rubber floor with sensors that detect whether or not someone is in the room.  A tissue dispenser covers the top of the toilet and there are numerous buttons to allow users to call the company if there is some sort of emergency, dispense toilet paper, and open the door.  At the sink, there is a dispenser that emits warm water with soap that is already mixed in.  Everything is touchless, operated by motion sensors.  The user is allowed to remain in the room for a maximum of 15 minutes, with a yellow warning light flashing 3 minutes before the door will automatically open.  Once the user exits the bathroom, a robotic arm sprays the toilet with disinfectant while jets also spray the sink and floor.  After this, a fan dries everything with hot air.  The cleaning process takes about 90 seconds, after which time the bathroom is ready for the next user.

In 2003, DC Metro riders agreed to test a self-cleaning bathroom costing $66,500 at the Huntington Station on the Yellow Line.  Managers tracked the number of people who used the bathroom, and after reviewing the numbers, a decision was made to forgo adding more bathrooms like it at other stations.  Seattle has also added 5 self-cleaning bathrooms located throughout the city.  In a poll conducted by Seattle PI Local, 36.7% said they would use the bathrooms and 20.5% said they absolutely would not.  I would definitely try one out if I ever came across one, although the idea of a self-cleaning bathroom does seem a bit frivolous.

DC Metro

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