Boeing’s self-cleaning aircraft bathroom lets you use loo without touching anything (mostly)

Boeing airplane loo uses UV lighting to clean surfaces few will have to touch anyway

Boeing is looking to clean up one of the smallest and dirtiest component of travel—the commercial airplane toilet.

With barely enough space to um, sit, and with high capacity usage, the commercial airline toilet perhaps is an engineering marvel but little else. Boeing however is looking to that notion with a self-cleaning aircraft bathroom– known as the Fresh Lavatory -- that the company says uses ultraviolet (UV) light to kill 99.99% of germs in the loo – and even puts down the toilet seat lid.

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"We're trying to alleviate the anxiety we all face when using a restroom that gets a workout during a flight," said Jeanne Yu, Boeing Commercial Airplanes Director of Environmental Performance in a statement. "In the prototype, we position the lights throughout the lavatory so that it floods the touch surfaces like the toilet seat, sink and countertops with the UV light once a person exits the lavatory. This sanitizing even helps eliminate odors."

Some of the clean potty system’s features include:

  • The ability to disinfect all surfaces after every use in just three seconds – once it detects no one is in the bathroom.
  • The lavatory uses Far UV light that would be activated only when the lavatory is unoccupied. Far UV is different from the UVA or UVB light in tanning beds, and is not harmful to people. (Boeing has filed for a patent on this concept.)
  • The cleaning system lifts and closes the toilet seat by itself so that all surfaces are exposed during the cleaning cycle.
  • The system also incorporates a hands-free faucet, soap dispenser, trash flap, toilet lid and seat and a hand dryer.
  • A hands-free door latch and a vacuum vent system for the floor are also under study, all to keep the lavatory as hygienic as possible between scheduled cleaning.

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