Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Smelly Throne

Some topics are best left not talked about, but somehow people manage to talk about them anyway. This may be one of those times. Any types with extra super sensitive tummies may want to leave the room.

Now that the sissies have exited the building, I'll say that today, we're going to talk about toilets. Yes, there is no stone which I won't lift up and discuss what is crawling beneath it.

I'm a very clean person as is my husband. Despite the lack of gratification in the process, I clean the bathroom about once a week if I can possibly manage it. I'm not sure how often a person is supposed to pour toxic chemicals into the commode and swish them around, but I figure once a week ought to be fairly reasonable.

Needless to say, my toilet is clean. In the summer, unfortunately, that doesn't mean it is always "fresh" smelling. When it gets hot and incredibly muggy, whatever bacteria or as they're referred to scientifically, "stink particles", that cause that "toilet" smell seem to go into hyper-drive and no matter how much I scrub and clean (with special attention given to under the rim), a vague smell of eau de toilet is present, often just hours after a cleaning. Since I detest artificial air fresheners and believe adding chemical "positive" smells to bad smells only creates a highly unpleasant funk that may eventually give you brain cancer, covering the scent with chemicals is not an option.

I've tried those hocky-puck like cleaning disks that you put in the back of the tank, but have had a disastrous experience with one. As chronicled in my former blog, one of them melted into a blob of goop then slid into the plug and left the toilet running through constantly. The fun that ensued as a result of this encounter with such a disk is chronicled in a story here. Needless to say, the consequences of using one of those things has put me off of using them forever. I don't even know if it would have helped.

Note the handy-dandy spout on the back of the tank the pours into a basin with a hole in it in the tank back. Also, note how inelegantly the plumbing was punched through the wall on the left. It's like someone just shoved the pipe through and didn't even try to drill or create an elegant hole. That's some craftsmanship.

Recently, I've started taking advantage of the hand wash basin integrated into the back of the toilet. I can't do this all year because the water is freezing cold when it's not monstrously hot outside, but I can do it in summer. I made this move to further my efforts to save water. I put a container of liquid hand soap on the tank to use for this purpose. The soapy waste water goes into the toilet tank and is used for flushing. Little did I know that this was going to kill two birds with one stone. After I started washing my hands, the smell problem disappeared. The small amount of soap which gets into the tank water appears to be enough to neutralize the odor issue that occurs in the summer.

The neatness with which making an environmentally sound choice to change my behavior solved this problem is oddly pleasing. It's as if I've had a very rare experience with karma giving me an instant reward for good behavior.


'badmoodguy' is mike said...

OMG, don't remind me of our smelly toities here at work... LOL!

About six weeks ago a lift pump in our sewage pit at work went out. Well, one did anyway. Since our building is near the river and the sewage pipes higher in the ground than the floor of our basement, our sewage has to go into the "hole to hell" as it were.

This hole is in a hefty, sealed vault with a thick metal cover and rubber seals in the men's room in the basement. This is ever so conveniently placed next to the driver's lounge and my beloved dungeon computer center and office.

With the passing of this pump, it was disconnected and removed for repair. When they did this, they DID NOT SEAL THE HOLE!

The smell was, shall we say, overwhelming. The first day, even some of us with not-so-weak constitutions were contemplating death rather than doing number one or two in this stench.

I, personally, have a mental disorder in which I for no apparent reason have to wash my hands at least a dozen times a day. Needless to say, I curtailed this during this time. My workmate, C, would walk to our downtown building about 1 km away to use in one of the vacant floors in the tower. There were even reports of people going lumberjack-style in the shrubbery, but those are unconfirmed.

Most could have used the restrooms in the HR hallway. To them everything is a secret and has to be secured, even their sh*t, and no one but HR (and us in IT, though we don't ever like to go there if we don't have to) has access to that area.

It is, thankfully, fixed now. It did, however, take them three weeks to repair the pump.

Orchid64 said...

Heh, the vague smell issue I have pales in comparison to the hell you describe. It sounds awful!

Occasionally, there is some weird sewage back-up deep in the pipes of the local system here and a really nasty open sewer grate smell comes up through the drain (no actual disgusting stuff comes up, just the smell). I think this is about 1/100th as bad as open holes like you experienced. This does appear to be a regular aspect of city life.

Melanie Gray Augustin said...

Hey, that's good to know that you can use hand soap at that basin. I think the little spout is a great idea for saving water (and coming from Australia, we have water-saving habits drilled into us from a young age), but hate the idea of not using soap.

I asked a Japanese friend about it once and she told me that it was probably not a good idea to use soap there because of it then going into the toilet bowl. Now I've heard from you that there aren't such problems! Yah!

Orchid64 said...

Hmm. I wonder why she thought soap would be an issue. After all, you have to put harsher chemicals into the bowl to clean it. I guess the wrong soap might leave a film or something, but I seriously doubt it would be an issue. It actually helped mine so I can't say that I see any bad in it!

DJ LosAngeles said...

I just moved to a house that has the same problem. I'm going to try your solution and see how it goes. Thanks for the tip!

Orchid64 said...

Hi, DJ, and thank you for reading and taking the time to comment!

I see that your blog is fairly new. I hope you'll continue to build on it. I'm always looking for new and interesting Japan blogs.

Anonymous said...

Actually, my blogger blog is new, but my livejournal ( has been up and running since I got here 4 years ago.