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No hands! No paper!

  • This photo provided by TOTO shows a NEOREST 750H high tech toilet. Toto's top-of-the-line toilet, a tankless wonder with all the gizmos, comes out this fall priced at around $10,000. (AP Photo/TOTO)

    This photo provided by TOTO shows a NEOREST 750H high tech toilet. Toto's top-of-the-line toilet, a tankless wonder with all the gizmos, comes out this fall priced at around $10,000. (AP Photo/TOTO)

  • This photo provided by TOTO shows a NEOREST 750H high tech toilet. Toto's top-of-the-line toilet, a tankless wonder with all the gizmos, comes out this fall priced at around $10,000. (AP Photo/TOTO)

    This photo provided by TOTO shows a NEOREST 750H high tech toilet. Toto's top-of-the-line toilet, a tankless wonder with all the gizmos, comes out this fall priced at around $10,000. (AP Photo/TOTO)

  • This photo provided by TOTO shows a NEOREST 750H Actilight Bowl of a high tech toilet. A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper - and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable - seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. (AP Photo/TOTO)

    This photo provided by TOTO shows a NEOREST 750H Actilight Bowl of a high tech toilet. A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper - and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable - seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. (AP Photo/TOTO)

  • This photo provided by TOTO shows a NEOREST 750H Actilight Bowl of a high tech toilet. A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper - and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable - seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. (AP Photo/TOTO)

    This photo provided by TOTO shows a NEOREST 750H Actilight Bowl of a high tech toilet. A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper - and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable - seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. (AP Photo/TOTO)

  • This photo provided by Brondell shows a rendering of a Swash 1000 Advanced Bidet Toilet Seat. The award-winning Swash 1000 toilet seat, made by the San Francisco-based Brondell company, is to be a standard option on the new Gulfstream G650 jets. (AP Photo/Brondell)

    This photo provided by Brondell shows a rendering of a Swash 1000 Advanced Bidet Toilet Seat. The award-winning Swash 1000 toilet seat, made by the San Francisco-based Brondell company, is to be a standard option on the new Gulfstream G650 jets. (AP Photo/Brondell)

  • This photo provided by Brondell shows a rendering of a Swash 1000 Advanced Bidet Toilet Seat. The award-winning Swash 1000 toilet seat, made by the San Francisco-based Brondell company, is to be a standard option on the new Gulfstream G650 jets. (AP Photo/Brondell)

    This photo provided by Brondell shows a rendering of a Swash 1000 Advanced Bidet Toilet Seat. The award-winning Swash 1000 toilet seat, made by the San Francisco-based Brondell company, is to be a standard option on the new Gulfstream G650 jets. (AP Photo/Brondell)

  • This photo provided by TOTO shows a rendering of an Ultra High Efficiency Dual Flush Cyclone Flush Engine of a high tech toilet, Neorest 750H. A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper - and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable - seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. (AP Photo/TOTO)

    This photo provided by TOTO shows a rendering of an Ultra High Efficiency Dual Flush Cyclone Flush Engine of a high tech toilet, Neorest 750H. A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper - and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable - seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. (AP Photo/TOTO)

  • This photo provided by TOTO shows a rendering of an Ultra High Efficiency Dual Flush Cyclone Flush Engine of a high tech toilet, Neorest 750H. A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper - and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable - seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. (AP Photo/TOTO)

    This photo provided by TOTO shows a rendering of an Ultra High Efficiency Dual Flush Cyclone Flush Engine of a high tech toilet, Neorest 750H. A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper - and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable - seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. (AP Photo/TOTO)

  • This Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, photo shows TOTO Washlet high tech toilets in the TOTO showroom in the Soho neighborhood of New York.  A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper - and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable - seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. (AP Photo/Katherine Roth)

    This Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, photo shows TOTO Washlet high tech toilets in the TOTO showroom in the Soho neighborhood of New York. A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper - and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable - seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. (AP Photo/Katherine Roth)

  • This Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, photo shows TOTO Washlet high tech toilets in the TOTO showroom in the Soho neighborhood of New York.  A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper - and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable - seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. (AP Photo/Katherine Roth)

    This Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, photo shows TOTO Washlet high tech toilets in the TOTO showroom in the Soho neighborhood of New York. A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper - and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable - seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. (AP Photo/Katherine Roth)

  • This photo provided by TOTO shows a Washlet S350 high tech toilet. The company began marketing the Washlet in Japan in 1980. Now 74 percent of Japanese households have toilets of the high-tech persuasion, making them more common there than home computers. (AP Photo/TOTO)

    This photo provided by TOTO shows a Washlet S350 high tech toilet. The company began marketing the Washlet in Japan in 1980. Now 74 percent of Japanese households have toilets of the high-tech persuasion, making them more common there than home computers. (AP Photo/TOTO)

  • This photo provided by TOTO shows a Washlet S350 high tech toilet. The company began marketing the Washlet in Japan in 1980. Now 74 percent of Japanese households have toilets of the high-tech persuasion, making them more common there than home computers. (AP Photo/TOTO)

    This photo provided by TOTO shows a Washlet S350 high tech toilet. The company began marketing the Washlet in Japan in 1980. Now 74 percent of Japanese households have toilets of the high-tech persuasion, making them more common there than home computers. (AP Photo/TOTO)

  • This photo provided by TOTO shows a NEOREST 700 high tech toilet. A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper - and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable - seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. (AP Photo/TOTO)

    This photo provided by TOTO shows a NEOREST 700 high tech toilet. A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper - and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable - seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. (AP Photo/TOTO)

  • This photo provided by TOTO shows a NEOREST 700 high tech toilet. A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper - and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable - seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. (AP Photo/TOTO)

    This photo provided by TOTO shows a NEOREST 700 high tech toilet. A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper - and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable - seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. (AP Photo/TOTO)

  • This photo provided by TOTO shows a NEOREST 750H high tech toilet. Toto's top-of-the-line toilet, a tankless wonder with all the gizmos, comes out this fall priced at around $10,000. (AP Photo/TOTO)
  • This photo provided by TOTO shows a NEOREST 750H high tech toilet. Toto's top-of-the-line toilet, a tankless wonder with all the gizmos, comes out this fall priced at around $10,000. (AP Photo/TOTO)
  • This photo provided by TOTO shows a NEOREST 750H Actilight Bowl of a high tech toilet. A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper - and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable - seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. (AP Photo/TOTO)
  • This photo provided by TOTO shows a NEOREST 750H Actilight Bowl of a high tech toilet. A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper - and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable - seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. (AP Photo/TOTO)
  • This photo provided by Brondell shows a rendering of a Swash 1000 Advanced Bidet Toilet Seat. The award-winning Swash 1000 toilet seat, made by the San Francisco-based Brondell company, is to be a standard option on the new Gulfstream G650 jets. (AP Photo/Brondell)
  • This photo provided by Brondell shows a rendering of a Swash 1000 Advanced Bidet Toilet Seat. The award-winning Swash 1000 toilet seat, made by the San Francisco-based Brondell company, is to be a standard option on the new Gulfstream G650 jets. (AP Photo/Brondell)
  • This photo provided by TOTO shows a rendering of an Ultra High Efficiency Dual Flush Cyclone Flush Engine of a high tech toilet, Neorest 750H. A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper - and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable - seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. (AP Photo/TOTO)
  • This photo provided by TOTO shows a rendering of an Ultra High Efficiency Dual Flush Cyclone Flush Engine of a high tech toilet, Neorest 750H. A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper - and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable - seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. (AP Photo/TOTO)
  • This Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, photo shows TOTO Washlet high tech toilets in the TOTO showroom in the Soho neighborhood of New York.  A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper - and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable - seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. (AP Photo/Katherine Roth)
  • This Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, photo shows TOTO Washlet high tech toilets in the TOTO showroom in the Soho neighborhood of New York.  A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper - and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable - seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. (AP Photo/Katherine Roth)
  • This photo provided by TOTO shows a Washlet S350 high tech toilet. The company began marketing the Washlet in Japan in 1980. Now 74 percent of Japanese households have toilets of the high-tech persuasion, making them more common there than home computers. (AP Photo/TOTO)
  • This photo provided by TOTO shows a Washlet S350 high tech toilet. The company began marketing the Washlet in Japan in 1980. Now 74 percent of Japanese households have toilets of the high-tech persuasion, making them more common there than home computers. (AP Photo/TOTO)
  • This photo provided by TOTO shows a NEOREST 700 high tech toilet. A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper - and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable - seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. (AP Photo/TOTO)
  • This photo provided by TOTO shows a NEOREST 700 high tech toilet. A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper - and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable - seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips. (AP Photo/TOTO)

Associated Press

NEW YORK — Every so often a revolution transforms something truly basic, rendering the status quo somewhat, well, primitive.

First came covered sewers, then indoor plumbing and flush toilets. Now, one bathroom at a time, another major shift in toilet hygiene is quietly under way. A new generation of toilets may one day make toilet paper — and the need to put one’s hands anywhere near the unspeakable — seem like chamber pots and outhouses: outdated and somewhat messy throwbacks reserved for camping trips.

Unlike traditional toilets, the high-tech version washes from behind and — if desired — in front with water. Better models allow for temperature, direction and pressure control, and have retractable spritzing wands and automatic driers as well. The best feature warm seats, automatic motion sensors to raise the lid, buttons to raise the seat, nightlights, self-cleaning mechanisms, music to mask unpleasant sounds, deodorizer spritzers and other conveniences.

“Paper just distributes the problem,” said Lenora Campos, a spokeswoman for Georgia-based Toto USA. Toto, the Japanese company that pioneered the modern electronic toilet seat, has sold 34 million of them globally. “We wash most things with water and wouldn’t dream of wiping a dish or anything else with a piece of paper and calling it clean. So why should personal hygiene be any different?”

Toto began marketing the Washlet in Japan in 1980. Now 74 percent of Japanese households have toilets of the high-tech persuasion, making them more common there than home computers.

The concept of electronic toilets that cleanse with water — widely known as bidet toilets or Washlets — has spread internationally over time and dozens of companies around the world, including Inax, Brondell and Kohler, are producing them.

Although most popular in Asia, basic versions are becoming standard in much of the Middle East and South America, where cleansing with water has long been preferred to paper. They are finally becoming more popular in Europe, where “boudoir paper” was introduced in the 19th century, and in equally paper-centric North America.

They have been a long time coming.

In the U.S., “bidets were always seen as European and an oddity of the French,” said Rose George, author of “The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters” (Metropolitan Books, 2008).

In addition to general squeamishness about discussing the way we clean ourselves, some in the U.S. are worried about the high-tech toilets’ requirement that a grounded electrical outlet be nearby, or thought the early control panels made the toilets look clumsy.

That said, the predecessor to modern high-tech toilets was actually invented in the United States, by Arnold Cohen of Brooklyn, who patented a pedal-operated seat he’d designed as a sort of sophisticated sitz-bath to help his ailing father. He founded the American Bidet Company in 1964, marketing his product as an “American way to bidet” and “the first wash and dry toilet.” But the subject was considered too vulgar for ads.

There now are roughly 1.5 million high-tech seats in use in the United States, and millions more featuring more basic, non-electric, water-cleansing methods such as attachments and sprayers. Although high-tech toilets still account for a scant 1 percent of toilets in the U.S., Brondell and Toto both estimate growth in the high-tech segment at around 15 percent or more per year, and significantly higher than that in the last two years. And this despite minimal advertising.

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