More Americans are embracing the idea of “universal design” – design that suits people of all ages, abilities, and lifestyles. Like aging in place, universal design is something that Baby Boomers are starting to consider as they decide to stay in their homes longer – or permanently– after retiring. It also benefits families with several generations living in the same home.
Dim lighting, steep staircases, and narrow rooms can all cause difficulties for people with vision or mobility problems. The bathroom, however, with its limited space and fixture placement, can cause the most frustrating problems.
One of those fixtures is –you guessed it—the toilet.
Wide toilet seats, bulky toilet tanks and hardware take space away from the rest of the room, and lower seats can cause problems with sitting and standing. Certain fixtures can also cause hygiene issues for those with limited mobility.
Adding a bidet function can eliminate some of the hygienic difficulties for those who cannot easily handle and use toilet paper. However, many people are unfamiliar with the idea of bidets or are hesitant to have them installed in their homes. Choosing a quality bidet can go a long way towards making the bathroom comfortable for people of all abilities.
When considering bidets, where to begin? There are many options to choose from.
In this blog, we will go over one product that has grown in popularity in Japan since the 1980s and is gaining momentum in the U.S.: the TOTO Washlet.
So what exactly is the Washlet?
The TOTO Washlet is not exactly a toilet, and not exactly a traditional bidet – it is a toilet with a seat that is operated by a remote control.
The Washlet has become a must-have item in Japan and around the world, with over 40 million Washlets sold since 1980. Clearly, homeowners are responding to something about this product.
As it turns out, the Washlet is easy to install and customize. It sits about three inches tall and can be installed on most existing toilets – meaning that the fixture itself will not change and homeowners can keep the height that is comfortable for them.
How does it work?
Three recent Washlet models include the TOTO E200, TOTO S300e and TOTO S350e. The S350e is the newest model with the most advanced settings, followed by the S300e and E200. Features of the Washlet that contribute to ease and comfort in the bathroom include:
- Remote Control Settings
For people with limited mobility who cannot easily operate a traditional toilet, the Washlet’s remote control setting is a powerful tool. The handheld controls allow users to adjust the temperature and pressure of the water, set the nozzle to pulse or oscillate, select the area to wash, and control the air dry and seat heating functions. The control panel can also be mounted on the wall, for those who want to use it that way.
- Air Dry Feature
In addition to providing convenience and comfort, the Washlet’s air dry settings help cut down on toilet paper use, making it an eco-friendly option.Its dual-flush mode helps to conserve water.
- Energy Save Mode
An important element of universal design is conservation. The Washlet helps conserve energy by powering down when not in use, which is a set amount of time determined by the user. It can even memorize and time patterns of use, and go into energy save mode when used less frequently than normal.
- LED Nightlight
Navigating the bathroom at night is difficult for anyone. The TOTO S300e and S350e include an LED setting for added safety and visibility in dim light.
- Automatic Open and Close
The TOTO S350e features a seat that opens and closes automatically when a user approaches or leaves.
- Simple Comfort
Features such as the Washlet’s heated seat – which can be custom-set between 86 and 104 degrees – may not directly relate to universal design, but it’s hard to argue against them.
Do you have a bidet or a Toto Washlet in your home, or have you made modifications to your bathroom to support universal design? Tell us about it in the comments section below!