How do you feel about automatic hygienic toilet seat covers? I felt weird.




By Stephanie S. Beecher, associate editor 

A few months ago I posted a quick blurb about hygienic toilet seats on Contracting Profits Facebook page. There has been some controversy surrounding the devices, and whether or not the covers actually provide the protection their makers say they do.

Though I have used toilet seat covers before, I had never seen an automatic dispenser before. That is until last month. On a business trip to Nashville in April, I had a layover in Chicago. O’Hare airport had been in the news about hygienic seat covers before, but I had all but forgotten about their article until I had to make a pit stop in the Ladies Room.

Since signing on as associate editor at Sanitary Maintenance and CP magazines, I have had a lot to learn about the professional cleaning industry. Once you are immersed in cleaning topics day in and day out, they start to grow on you. Outside of business best practices, my fancies appear to lie in restroom cleaning and floor care.

Though I am still a novice to the industry I find myself noticing everything from soap types and towel dispensers, to floor matting and mop heads. I am entertained by our readers cleaning before and after pictures. I sing Happy Birthday as I was my hands. And above all, I notice how clean a facility really is.

I was extremely impressed by how clean O’Hare’s restrooms were (after several hours of delays I ended up visiting the restrooms more than once). The floors were free of paper towels, the counters were spotless and dry, and they didn't have an offending odor. So I thought I was scott-free until...

There it was, my first introduction to an automatic hygienic toilet seat cover: I’m not ashamed to say that I was excited about my first field trial. I moved toward the commode and watched as the seat cover snaked around the toilet rim. Pretty cool, except I couldn’t tell where the old cover had started and the new one had begun. I guess I expected the old cover to discard below the toilet or something. It didn’t.

I’m not sure how the device works, or how the used seat covers are stored in the holder (I’m assuming there are separate compartments for the new and used sheets) and that made me super uneasy. Maybe it’s just me, but I actually wanted to SEE the used cover get disposed of somehow before I sat down.

To make matter worse, the seat cover, which was made of thin plastic, was super slippery over the smooth surface of the toilet rim once I did sit — and it made me wonder whether or not ABC had a point when they claimed that urine could get trapped between the seat cover and the toilet rim. And that grossed me out.

At the end of my experience, I can say I would have rather used a traditional seat cover or none at all (after all, a recent study shows that more germs exist on your cell phone than on a toilet seat). But, at O’Hare you didn’t have a choice. The device was installed on every toilet in the restrooms that I visited.

Have you ever used an automatic hygienic toilet seat cover? How was your experience? Let me know in the comments section below. I would be interested to know how popular these devices are in your facilities. 

Oh, and here’s the news link that sparked my interest.

  • We have a customer with these and I see no problem sanitary-wise.  The cover is a long roll of plastic sleeve that is threaded over the seat from the left side. I don't see how any liquid could get inside the tube from the supply side. On the receiving side, the sleeve is slit by a razor cutter before winding up on a disposable spindle. The used material cannot be used again and you should have no fears of contamination.

  • In reply to Ed Samson:

    Thanks for informing me of this, Ed. One of the issues that is of concern to users (which I should have mentioned) is the plume that is thrust onto restroom surfaces after flushing. This, and an experiment with orange juice (to simulate urine) showed it was possible for the fluids to become trapped under the lining — and thus pose a threat for germ contamination.

    Is the device popular with many of your customers? This was my first time seeing it in person!

  • In reply to stephanie.beecher:

    First of all, the "plume" is not an issue with the hygienic disposable seat covers because it is a new covering for each user. Second, if the plume is so dangerous why are toilet seats so much cleaner than desks and cell phones?

    We have only two customers (about 10 toilets total) with these seats but I have never seen any contamination between the seat and the seat cover. Even if there was, it might look bad but would be contained within the plastic cover.

  • In reply to Ed Samson:

    I am the distributor for the Hygolet Sanitary Toilet System .  I have distributed them for 28 years.  It is the only product that guarantees the user a clean sanitary toilet seat.  The article that you are referring to from O'hare airport was a new seat purchased and  never tested on the market or previously installed anywhere.  

    If people have any questions they should just read the sign and look at the picture on the wall behind the seat and not GUESS.

  • In reply to Cynthia Lazarus:

    Perhaps, then what is needed, is more education about these products. In my case, I didn't see any literature on the wall or the seat of the restroom stall—  though I wasn't exactly looking for it (Who is when you gotta go! Haha).

    Thanks for reading, and thanks for your advice.