15 years ago, the gay interior designer who lived in my aunt’s guesthouse installed a Toto Washlet in the bathroom. At the time, I dismissed the whole thing — leave it to the Japanese to invent a toilet seat with a robotic, mechanized wand that washes your butt! Leave it to the folly of a gay interior designer to install one! I tried it, laughed, made a friend try it, laughed some more at the sounds coming out of the bathroom, and moved on with my life.
Then, earlier this year, I was staying with my friend Jon, one of the co-founders of the Lovesick Expo. He lives in a LEED-certified house that’s meticulously dedicated to sustainable, greener living. I took one look at his Japanese butt-washing robot toilet and was all, “Really, bitch? How does this ridiculously expensive, hilariously indulgent Japanese butt-washing robot toilet seat fit into your sustainable home?”
“Dude,” he said. “You don’t have to shower as much when your butt’s clean.”
That might be true, I conceded… while laughing.
“And you don’t use toilet paper any more,” he said.
That also might be true, I conceded… while laughing.
“And they’re not that expensive any more.”
I checked: Oh! What used to be a few thousand dollars is now around $300.
“Ok,” I said. “Tell me more.”
“You know when you get the runs, how sometimes you’ll wipe your butt raw?” Jon said. “…And then you have the runs AND a raw butt?”
Yes, I did know about that, and it’s awful. Then Jon’s wife chimed in.
“It’s the best for when you’re having your period,” she said. “It has a ‘front wash’ option that takes care of bloody messes.”
Interesting, I thought to myself.
And then I bought one. And now I’m a convert! Toilet paper? BARBARIAN!
Ok, first: WTF is this thing?
A Toto Washlet is essentially an electrical toilet seat that washes your butt with a little wand. It connects to a power supply (via a three-prong outlet) and your water supply (via a small hose), and then you press buttons to make it do its thing.
When you’re talking about the model that I got, “its thing” includes Rear Wash (a very focused stream of water pointed right at your butt hole), Soft Rear Wash (more gentle streams of water pointed more generally at your butt hole region), Front Wash (water pointed at your vulva), and Dryer (a fan that blows warm air all over your bits both front and back.) You can control all sorts of things like water temperature, pressure, and angle.
There are other bells and whistles too — a heated toilet seat being one, and a “pre-mist” function that basically wets down the inside of your toilet seat so that your poo doesn’t stick to the porcelain. These things don’t matter that much to me, but one friend went so far as to say that the pre-mist function was cool enough that he’d buy one for that alone. (Different people have different sticky-poo issues, I guess.)
How to install a Toto Washlet
If you’re me, this is a one-step process: CALL A PLUMBER.
Even though installation is super easy, a friend gave me the tip that if a plumber installed my Toto Washlet, I could then call that plumber if something went wrong in the future, which is a nice perk. So, when my kitchen sink faucet finally disintegrated and needed to be replaced, I bundled the jobs together and called a plumber. Installation took less than half an hour, since the Toto Washlet basically just gets plugged into the wall and then attached to your water supply via one quick hose. If you’re handy, you could easily DIY it in like 15 minutes. I am just lazy and wanted to be able to rely on someone else if the thing stopped working right because, again, lazy.
Ok, so what’s it feel like?
- Rear Wash: it feels like a pointy stream of water going up your butt.
- Soft rear: it feels like a softer sprinkle going on your butt.
- Front wash: depending on how you position yourself, it’s either a nice cleaning stream of water or (DOUBLE PRESS FOR OSCILLATION OPTION!) something more entertaining. Have fun with that!
You get to control pressure, temperature, and angle, so it’s never uncomfortable… although that first Rear Wash might be a little alarming. WHEEE!
What’s awesome about it?
My friends who’ve lived in Japan and Europe always side-eye me when I talk about my Toto, like “Srsly, girl? You’re just now figuring out that it’s nicer to wash your butt than it is to use a dry piece of low-quality paper to scrape that shit off?” But if you’re like me, this is something you’ve just never really thought of. Toilet paper is how you do things. It’s how you’ve always done things. What is this washing your under-carriage madness?
Well, it’s freaking awesome, that’s what it is. You actually get, like, actually clean. Yes, you could achieve this with a peri bottle (right, postpartum folks? RIGHT?) or even just a freaking water bottle next to the toilet with a wash cloth (family cloth, anyone?). You totally could do that. You totally should do that. But, if you’re like me, and you like pre-heated water and pre-misting and oscillations and the idea of a robot butt-butler washing your behind, this is a nice upgrade from that more basic option.
It’s great for poop. It’s great for pee. It’s great for menstrual blood. It’s great for post-coital clean-up. It’s great for when you’re sick out the butt. It’s great for children — both in terms of them actually using it (no more shouts from my 6-year-old for help with wiping — y’all feelin’ me here, moms?) and in terms of entertainment (my son figured out that “front wash” can reach the sink mirror across the room if he games it right. HA!). My parents asked me if I worried that having a Toto would make my son unable to wipe his own butt, and I was all, “I don’t know, lets ask those generations of Europeans and Japanese folks how that’s worked for them.”
OH WOE IS ME, WE KNOWETH NOT HOW TO WIPE OUR BUTTETHS.
…You could say I’m not too worried about it.
What’s meh about it?
The dryer takes a long time to actually dry your butt — like, five minutes. This means that you will likely spend more time drying your butt than pooping. One friend asked if this was an issue of taint hair (side bonus of having a Toto: you get to have conversations with friends about taint hair!), but that’s not it. Even if you’re one of those waxed types, it just takes a while for a little fan to dry your butt. It’s not like it’s a Dyson Air Blade going up your ass. It’s just a gentle little whirring fan, so now I have a copy of the Tao Te Ching next to the toilet to encourage folks to get comfortable and patient with it. Butt-drying mindfulness! It’s a thing!
This particular model has a very small-in-diameter toilet seat. I have a small-ish toilet and am an small-to-medium sized person so it’s fine for me, but taller and wider folks have reported feeling like they’re perched on an itty-bitty widdle dolly toilet.
It does sit pretty high up on your toilet. I mean, my toilet now feels like a slightly elevated high-tech command center. I’m ok with it, but it’s not a low-profile situation.
I also still haven’t figured out how to hide the cord, which stretches across my bathroom right now. That’s strictly an issue of aesthetics, but it’s worth considering where your bathroom outlet is in relation to your toilet.
This is a luxury item. It is unnecessary and kind of silly, and kind of awesome. I recommend it.