Toilets are an essential part of our everyday lives. We tend to take the toilet very much for granted and not really like to think about it too much until we find that we desperately need a toilet and none can be found. We forget that modern toilets are a luxury in a lot of underdeveloped countries and find it a huge inconvenience if our toilet doesn’t work.
Toilets in outhouses began in a very basic fashion, a hole in the ground. Then seats were fashioned from planks of wood with openings in them to enable a person to dispose of their toilet waste while sitting rather than squatting. These primitive toilet facilities were then enclosed to provide a little privacy for the occupants. Wealthy house owners could use chamber pots in the privacy and comfort of their own bedrooms, or bedchambers. These were usually made from ceramic and were emptied by servants. As these pots became a more accepted method of going to the toilet there were fewer places to empty them, especially in towns and cities, and people would throw the contents out of their windows onto the streets.
Thankfully we have progressed a long way since the days of having to dodge the contents of someone’s toilet being thrown over our heads as we walked along the street.
Toilets that we are used to using are a relatively recent invention and used to be only affordable by the very wealthy. Even now the evolution of the toilet is still in progress with technological advances including automatic flushing controlled by sensors and economy settings to allow less water to be used when the toilet fills up. The issue of hygiene is a constant one and, along with all the different types of toilet cleaners and fragranced deodorizers there are even public toilets that clean themselves after each visit.
The prevalence of indoor plumbing has been the main factor in the availability of toilets inside our homes. It is this plumbing that ensures the toilet keeps functioning correctly and we don’t have to do anything more than pulling the chain or press the handle. Before this, all toilets were separate from the main house in small outhouses. The water supply that these outhouses were connected to was totally detached from the ones used inside the house.