Toilet Trivia, Tips, Tricks, & Myths

Toilet Trivia

~ It was estimated by Fluidmaster in 2006 that there are 250 million toilets installed in private households in America. This does not include public facilities, offices, hotels, stadiums, schools, dormitories, resorts, etc.

~ Gallons-per-flush (GPF) over the years: 1920s to 1950s 7 GPF ~ 1960's & 1970s 5 GPF ~ 1982 3.5 GPF ~ 1994 1.6 GPF ~ 2010 1.28 GPF.

~ Beginning in 1994 all toilets manufactured are marked with their Gallons Per Flush (GPF) rating. The rating may also be shown in liters, Liters Per Flush (LPF). The markings are on the bowl where the seat attaches. If a toilet has no marking, then it is 3.5 GPF or greater.

~ Toilets consume about 25% of water inside a home. (Southern Nevada Water Authority.)

~ Low-flow toilets cause stink in San Francisco. Skimping on toilet water has resulted in more sludge backing up inside the sewer pipes resulting in a rotten egg smell in some areas. (San Francisco Chronicle 2/28/11.)

~ California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Governator) signed legislation in 2007 to implement 1.28 GPF high-efficency toilets (HETs) in California beginning in 2010.

~ Enameled wooden toilet seats and croquet balls are made of the same materials in the same factory - Bemis Manufacturing, Wisconsin, USA.

~ Patent number #272369 was granted to Seth Wheeler of Albany, New York in 1883 for perforated toilet paper rolled on cardboard tubes. (Wikipedia)

~ The first stall in a public bathroom is the least used and the cleanest. (

~ 1960 was he first time a toilet was seen and heard being flushed in a film. Credit goes to Alfred Hitchcock for "Pyscho".

~ Gizmo the curious cat causes rise in water bill: YouTube

Toilet Tips

~ To avoid clogging your toilet or waste pipes, follow this advice, "If you didn't eat it first, don't put it in the toilet!"

~ If your toilet does become clogged, try adding a few squirts of liquid dish-washing soap to the toilet bowl. Let it sit ten minutes. Then apply toilet plunger. The dish-washing soap will greatly increase your odds of success.

~ The threads on the nuts holding toilet tank trip levers (aka flush handles), are opposite of normal. That is, clock-wise to loosen, counter-clock-wise to tighten.

~ Don't store cans, candle holders, bottles, glasses, vases, plant pots, etc. on shelves, ledges, or window sills above your toilet. When they fall they often survive, but according to recent customers, the tank lid might not.

~ If you occupy a rental dwelling and there is a problem with the toilet tank mechanics, it might best to leave it alone and alert the owner rather than try to remedy it yourself. We have supplied many lids to renters to replace ones they broke during repair attempts.

~ To winterize an unused toilet during freezing conditions, add one ounce of automobile anti-freeze to both the tank and the bowl. (Be careful when handling the tank lid. Handling Tips) The next time the toilet is flushed, the freeze protection is gone.

~ If you replace your entire toilet, check with your water company to see if they offer Ultra Low Flush rebates.

~ If your toilet tank lid has broken or chipped edges, take a fine file and carefully smooth down the sharp edges. Or remove the lid and do not use it.

~ If your toilet tank lid (aka cover, aka top) wobbles on the tank, there might be some warp in the tank, the tank lid, or both. Remedy by adding a cabinet door bumper on the bottom of the tank lid where the gap is causing the wobble. To receive a fee stick-on "tank lid wobble spacer", send a self-addressed, stamped return envelope to: Tank Lid Spacer, This Old Toilet, PO Box 3501, Los Altos CA 94024.

~ Secure toilet tank lids in public or institutional environments with silicone. Apply clear silicone caulking between the bottom of the tank lid and the face of the tank. When access to the inside of the tank is required, cut the silicone with a razor or knife.

~ If you have a five year old living with you, show them what's inside the toilet tank before they try to look on their own. Yup - sold another lid today to replace one broken by a curious toddler.

~ If your toilet seat won't hold in the up position, try these two remedies: Gently slide the toilet tank lid back on the tank as far as it will go and/or loosen the toilet seat mounting nuts and move the seat as far forward as it will the nuts.

~ Do not sit on the closed cover of your toilet seat. It was not designed to be a chair or stool. Do not stand on the cover or rim of your toilet seat. (Unless you want to buy a new one.) They were not designed nor intended for that much weight. Plus the risk of injury from slip-and-fall.

~ When working with hand tools on the wall or ceiling above a toilet, close the top on the seat and put covering such as towels or blankets over the tank lid. ...Enough to protect from impact if a tool or hardware is dropped. Padded moving blankets are best.

~ Do not flush prescription drugs down the toilet. (Per the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health.) Although this was a pratice used in the past, new evidence and studies show that prescription drugs are not being completely filtered out when passing through sewer treatment plants. Damage to marine wildlife and plant life is an end product of this. (Oh Heavens! The sharks are on Viagra and the salmon are on Prozac.) Maybe this has always been the case and modern technology is now able to detect it. Please bring any old prescription drugs or medication to your local Household Hazardous Waste Program to be safely disposed of. (More Info)

Update: On October 15, 2007 California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Senate bill SB966 (Senator Joe Simitian) which would, " ensure proper disposal of prescription pharmaceuticals by allowing retailers of pharmaceutical drugs and other organizations to have in place a system for the acceptance and collection of drugs."

~ Remove stains and mineral buildup from your toilet with a pumice scouring bar. Pumice is a natural volcanic material used for cleaning purposes since ancient times by mixing with water, oil or acid. In addition to cleaning toilets, it can be used on enameled iron or porcelain steel sinks and tubs. Works on ceramic tile too. We use it at our detailing bench to remove rust stains and paint marks. As the pumice begins to dissolve, the bar conforms the the curves of the plumbing fixture. Commonly sold at hardware stores, grocery stores, and home centers. Also available from us.

Toilet Myths

~ "Low-flush, water saving toilets are bad because they don't work." This was true, but is no longer true. When government low-flush mandates were implemented into production, (1982 and 1994) the manufacturers had to quickly modify existing models. They did this by reducing the amount of water released by the tank. But this was not always enough for the bowl to adequately perform a full flush. The result was poor discharge performance on solid waste. Within several years of the mandates, the manufacturers were able to re-engineer the entire toilet system (tank and bowl.) Performance steadily improved. After 25 years of progress, today's low-flush toilets work very, very well.

~ "Sir Thomas Crapper invented the toilet." Contrary to widespread misconceptions, Crapper did not invent the toilet, nor is the word crap derived from his name. He was, though, a plumber and sanitary engineer who did much to increase the popularity of the toilet. He developed some important related inventions such as the ballcock which fills a toilet tank. And he did eventually produce toilets bearing his name. Thomas Crapper was born in England in 1836. Invention of the flush toilet is credited to John Harrington in England in 1596, which he called "Ajax." This was followed by Alexander Cummings' invention of the S-Trap in 1775. The S-Trap remains a feature of toilets to this day. Wikipedia

~ "Toilet seats are the dirtiest thing in the bathroom". A test by Dr. Charles Gerba (aka Dr. Germ) revealed that the bathroom floor contains 200 million bacteria per square inch and is the dirtiest place in the bathroom. A sanitary surface is considered 1,000 bacteria per square inch and the toilet seat passed. "There are more germs on your hands than your toilet seat." ABC 20/20, 2005