Your Place: Toilet innovations, from both sides now

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Donít take this the wrong way, but I have had lots of experience with toilets over the years.

Iíve written 235 stories about them for the Inquirer alone since 1989, did a piece on dual flush for Popular Science in 2005, and included a chapter on toilets in each of my books, albeit as part of the bathroom.

I also brought toilets to the Home Matters show for an episode when I was "the Gadgeteer."

There was an article that took a toilet apart, interviewing plumbers and manufacturers who explained how they worked.

Then there was the 2004 story about the residents of Champion, Mich., testing an American Standard low-flow model ó including a nun who, hands in prayer, graced the cover of the Real Estate section.

These days, American Standard has introduced a toilet that cleans itself with the push of a button ó the ActiClean Self-Cleaning Toilet. (See it in action at

The toilet costs $695 and is available at Loweís, among other places.

Each ActiClean comes with a cleaning cartridge and a set of four AA batteries in the carton, along with the toilet tank, bowl, and seat. Replacement American Standard cleaning cartridges have a list price of $14.99.

Hereís how it works: The user presses the button for the preferred cleaning cycle. A "quick clean" takes one minute; a deep clean offers an extended, 10-minute cleaning cycle.

Cleaning solution travels through the designated channel in the tank and is mixed with water. The solution is released into the bowl, combined with the toiletís VorMax jetted force, which allows the cleaner to completely scour the bowl from top to bottom.

The cleaner soaks in the bowl for the chosen amount of time, its fragrance and foaming bubbles indicating that itís hard at work.

When the soaking time has ended, the system will automatically siphon the cleaning agent and rinse the bowl with clear water.

Iím not selling this; Iím just letting you know that such an animal exists.

And, yes, to anticipate the Luddites among us, a toilet brush does cost only a few bucks.