Self-Cleaning Toilets Cleared for Take Off

Boeing pilots self-cleaning toilets, using Far Ultraviolet light

Not one of Boeing's self-cleaning toilets, only a bog-standard one in Business Class.
Not one of Boeing’s self-cleaning toilets, only a bog-standard one in Business Class on a Boeing 777.

The aeroplane toilet. A much-maligned species of the lavatorial pecking order. Like its cousin seen on trains and coaches, it is territory that Standard Class passengers deign to avoid if possible. Scaring claustrophobes witless since 1928, the aeroplane toilet has never been noted for its spaciousness. If in a dirty state, an already unpleasant experience made worse. Boeing might have the answer. In the testing stage is the next generation of airborne conveniences – self-cleaning toilets.

About Boeing’s Airborne Self-Cleaning Toilets

Many of us may be familiar with Superloos in public places.  Once you’ve paid your 10p or 20p and finished with the facilities, they clean up after your visit.  Their cleaning cycle is water-based and takes around five minutes.  Three seconds exposure to Far UV light kills off 99.99% of germs in one of Boeing self-cleaning toilets.  It also eliminates odours, leaving the toilet squeaky clean for its next user.

What’s more, it is designed for use whilst airborne.  Boeing’s self-cleaning toilets aim to raise the hygiene bar further with the following features:

  • Opening and closing hands-free toilet seats;
  • Hands-free door latch;
  • Hands-free soap dispenser, taps, waste paper bin;
  • Automatic hand dryers;
  • Vacuum vent floor.

Boeing’s development could be a game-changer for other modes of transport. Self-cleaning toilets of that ilk could be a boon for inter-city trains and long distance coach travel. Could they be coming to a street near us? Who knows.

Will the revolution be sanitised?

Not everybody shares the same enthusiasm as Boeing. Martin Rivers in Forbes magazine dismissed Boeing’s self-cleaning toilets as “a crappy idea.” He thinks that cost-cutting airlines would reduce the role of human contact and create “festival-style restrooms that passengers dare not set foot in and employees have no contractual obligation to touch.”

Be careful what you wish for? Perhaps we should.

Clean Hire, 07 March 2016.

Image Credit:

Business Class toilet, Boeing 777 by KristoferbOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0,