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The Epoch Times
The Epoch Times
22 Jul 2023

NextImg:Dear John, Please Put Down the Toilet Seat!

By Lance Reynolds
From Boston Herald

A couple grads from Boston University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology may have finally solved the long-lived bathroom dispute between men and women on how they should leave toilet seats after they’re done using them.

The group of five graduates teamed up to form Cleana, a Boston-based technology startup that’s all about creating a cleaner bathroom experience, starting at the toilet seat.

After four years of planning and testing different means to meet that mission, the company’s initial products, an automatic-lifting seat for commercial uses and one that automatically closes for residential purposes, are expected to be delivered later this year.

The process started in 2019 when Kevin Tang, now the chief executive officer of the company, wanted to create a product that would solve an ‘unmet need’ in the bathroom. He turned to the toilet seat because other fixtures in a modern bathroom are much more advanced, like automatic flush valves.

“The funny thing is, all of those things are great, but when you ask someone ‘Would you rather have a sink that you don’t have to touch or a toilet seat that you know won’t be covered in [urine]?’ They will definitely pick the latter. It was strangely unmet,” Tang told the Herald.

Now, Cleana is ready to start delivering the products, both of which have been extensively at institutions including MIT, Stanford, and the YMCA, as well as in hundreds of homes.

Hundreds of preorders have been booked via the company’s website and shipments are expected to be made in the fall or winter, Tang said.

“People get (expletive) ballistic. This issue of the seat up or the seat down is a matter of consideration of respect for a lot of these people,” Tang said. “For a lot of women, when they perceive people doing that it’s kind of like eyeroll men.”

Women who the company consulted with during the creation process often squirmed when they learned about the toilet seat that automatically lifts up after people use them in commercial spaces, like bars and restaurants.

That reaction triggered Cleana to think differently about its approach to the residential product, Tang said. So, the team decided to invent a seat that would automatically close after use at home. Both the commercial and at-home products are cost effective and durable, as they don’t use power or batteries, Tang said.

“The interest has been really high on both sides of the aisle,” he said. “My hypothesis is it’s mostly driven by the women of the household, but nonetheless, the interest is high amongst both.”

Many automatic self-lifting or -closing toilet seats that already exist cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, Tang said. The starting price for both of his products is $95, but the long-term goal is to bring that down to be similar to regular toilet seats that go for around $40 in retail spaces, he said.

“A brash group of recent college grads could hardly be expected to disrupt the global toilet seat market,” said John Barrett, executive director of the Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association, “but they have for both home and public spaces. The innovation is stunning and its appeal is easy to appreciate.”

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