When it comes to the lowly toilet seat there are a few things worth considering before you jump in and make a purchase.
Rather important but unglamourous is hygiene, although things are not as bad in this area as you may think. You are unlikely to contract a disease just from sitting on a pathogen-covered seat. According to Dr Chuck Gerba, professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, “Neither viruses like influenza nor the bacteria responsible for illnesses such as strep throat are dangerous unless they come in contact with the mucus membranes” which in no doubt quite a relief to most of us!.
Dr Gerba has tested the faecal bacteria such as E.coli and staphylococcus aureus on a toilet seat compared with other items in the home. The kitchen chopping board does not fare well and has on average around 200 times more faecal bacteria on it than a toilet seat – this probably comes from chopping raw meat products on it. There is worse. A typical dishcloth will have about 20,000 times more bacteria per square inch on it than a toilet seat and a kitchen sponge around 200,000 times more (source: www.bbc.co.uk)
So when it comes to hygiene, the toilet seat perhaps does not need to be at the top of you list of things to worry about. Some people feel that a toilet seat made from MDF compressed wood or natural, solid wood will not be as hygienic as seats made from resin or thermoplastic (polypropylene). This is not the case as long as the seat has a multi-layered coating and an easy to clean surface. If the surface coating is worn away it will obviously not be as hygienic as resin and plastic.
It is probably inappropriate to talk about taste and toilet seats in the same sentence but you don’t need to be much of a style guru to work out that a comedy toilet seat (see later) or even an old fashioned wooden style seat won’t fit in with a modern, white bathroom suite.
Victorian or vintage style bathrooms like the ones pictured below are always very popular in older or rural properties.
With a vintage style bathroom you will need to use a wooden style seat with chrome plated or solid brass hinges. These tend to come in two styles, the traditional oval shape or throne toilet seat. According to Paul Edwards from the Old Fashioned Bathrooms company, the Bristol Throne seat in dark oak (pictured above) “is one of our best selling toilet seats and yet it has it origins from several centuries ago – some things just don’t go out of style”. In a vintage bathroom, a dark oak throne toilet seat would look perfect, but you could also have it in a modern setting as a bit of a talking point perhaps.
The toilet is one of the bedrocks of British comedy and there are many examples of ‘humorous’ toilet seats that are widely on sale. The classic clear resin seat with barbed wire in it is probably the most popular ‘comedy’ toilet seat and not far behind is the ‘union jack’ seat. I suppose the comedy value in the British flag toilet seat lies in the inappropriate way it is used although you could also link it to being a sort of throne! This leads nicely onto the quite superb idea that is the Game of Thrones, throne seat.
You would think that nothing much could go wrong with a toilet seat and although I’ve not seen statistics on this, I would suspect that the majority of toilet seats become loose over time, particularly if there are any plastic fittings involved. This is not a problem with the old fashioned style of toilet seat where you could get out a spanner and and have easy access to tighten up the bolts. However someone in the plumbing world has come up with bright idea to hide the toilet seat bolts so that anyone without a plumbing qualification is unable to replace it. If you search in Google for “hidden toilet seat fittings” you’ll see 175,000 results, most of which are comments in forums around how you go about replacing them. If you ever buy a new toilet, best stick to the old style fittings that don’t have this ‘engineered in’ design problem!
Japan has been at the forefront of toilet seat luxury developing things like heated seats, bidet functions and white noise to try and obscure some of the zestier sounds! Whilst not suggesting going to these kind of lengths there are a few added extras you might look out for in a modern toilet seat. Some will have an impressively named ‘quick release button’ which allows an easy way to remove the seat for cleaning and seems a very practical function. Some seats will also have a soft or silent close hinge adaptation which will prevent the lid from slamming.
The average person spends about 3 months of their lifetime sitting on the toilet so it is worth taking some time to think about the humble toilet seat and what works best for you.