The Development of the Modern Toilet


The Development of the Modern Toilet

Posted on June 11, 2024 by Melbourne Plumber

history of the toilet

The toilet is a staple in any home or business. It is perhaps the most important modern appliance in the home yet it goes mostly overlooked and isn’t even thought about much. But without the modern toilet, life would be a whole lot different.

A device which carries human waste out of our living space is arguably the most important feature to any home. Human waste is very dangerous and must be discarded in a safe and efficient manner. The modern toilet accomplishes these very tasks.

Holes in the Ground and Outhouses

The earliest humans would simply do their business away from the group, perhaps under a tree or around the bend. But they quickly realized that decomposing waste emits a very foul odor. It wasn’t long before they learned that burying it was a way to get rid of this problem.

Flash forward thousands of years, when humans became less nomadic, they figured out that digging a larger hole for the community was a viable solution. This version of waste management held steady for many thousands of years, and in some parts of the world still is used.

The outhouse is just a hole in the ground with a shack or shed placed over it. There are still tens of thousands of outhouses in America today, believe it or not.

Flush Toilets

The first flush toilet was designed in 1596. It is the grandfather of our most modern toilets. A bowl which a person could sit on and then have their waste washed away by pouring water into it was this first toilet. The inventor was Sir John Harrington.

In cities, people were going to the bathroom in buckets and simply throwing their waste into the streets. It is believed that this is how major plagues spread in that era. Drinking and bathing water became saturated with harmful bacteria.

Modern Toilets

The porcelain toilet was invented in the late 1700’s by Thomas Crapper. He observed that the smooth service of porcelain was most conducive to flushing away waste.

The types of flushing designs have changed over the years since but the principle remains the same. By using an influx of water, waste is pushed down pipes and away from the bowl. It ends up in either a septic tank or a larger sewage system where it will undergo treatment.

More Efficient Toilets

People are generally happy with the ease and function of the modern toilet. The most recent changes in bowl design has been to use less water to accomplish the same function. In fact, some parts of the world have laws which require toilet makers to use a specific limit in regards to how much water is used with each flush.


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