What is a Toilet?


A toilet generally is a plumbing fixture installed in your bathroom to collect and dispose of your excreta. There are several different types of toilets all around the world, some of which we can look into in this article.

We will also briefly delve into how a toilet works and some of the important parts that help it function appropriately.

What Is It Made Of?

Modern toilets tend to come in the form of flush toilets. These structures can be made from several materials, some of which include porcelain, wood, concrete, plastic, and more.

These toilets can further have several systems that come together to clean up the toilet after its use. Most toilets around the world use flush technologies that use water to drain out the excreta from the toilet and through the drainage pipes.

Several other systems can also exist, such as toilet seat movements, warmers, water sprays, and more.

How Does It Work?

Toilets generally have a pot that your excreta collects in. An attached chain, button, or handle is then pressed to flush out the excreta from the toilet (in the case of flush toilets).

This excreta then passes through a drainage pipe that is attached to the toilet and that travels to a sewer or disposal area.

In some other toilets, you might have to manually pour in water from a tap to get rid of the excreta, while some others may do so automatically through sensors.

Typically, a water tank or cistern is present, which refills itself with water each time you flush.

Parts of a Toilet

There are several parts of a toilet that are important for it to work. For the sake of convenience and universality, we will mainly explore the parts of a modern flush toilet:


A cistern is a small water tank that holds in water for flushing. A water pipe brings in the water to this cistern from the main water supply. Whenever you press the flushing handle, the water from the tank drains out into the toilet to flush out the excreta.

A ball inside this cistern maintains the water level. It lowers itself when the water level goes down.

Not all modern toilets have a cistern. Some flush mechanisms may also directly be connected to the water pipe.


While one pipe supplies clean water to the toilet on-demand each time you flush, another pipe is used for drainage to clear out the dirty water. This pipe is usually at the bottom of the toilet bowl.

Toilet Bowl

This bowl, as mentioned, collects and drains out the excreta. This can either be attached to the floor or mounted against the wall.

In both cases, this bowl has a trap-like structure or wax seal at the bottom that prevents reflux from the drain.

Sometimes, if the drain is clogged, you will need to unclog it using plumbing tools or by calling a professional.


Valves can be present at several places that allow you to control the water supply. These are located on the water supply pipe, near the flush, and inside the cistern.

While not all toilets may have all of these valves, they can be useful if you want to stop the supply to prevent overflowing or for repairs.

Types of Toilets

Across the world or even across different structures, there are several different types of toilets. Let’s briefly look at some of these.

Flush Toilet

Flush toilets are the most common type of toilets all over the world. They make use of clean water and flushing technology to clear out all the dirty water from the toilet bowl. They may also have a cistern along with other accessories and technologies.

They are either attached to the floor or mounted on the wall.

Vacuum Toilet

Vacuum toilets are those that rely on suction force to clear out the waste from the bowl. Structurally, they are similar to flush toilets but they differ when it comes to technology.

Their water usage is also minimal. These can particularly be helpful inside public transport vehicles like buses, trains, airplanes, and others.

Floating Toilet

Floating toilets are built on structures that rest on the water. This enables excreta to gather in a designated vessel while also separating the urine.

These toilets may most commonly be found in regions where access to ground structures or proper sewage systems is not entirely possible. Additionally, if an area exhibits frequent flooding, these toilets may be established.

Dry Toilet

Dry toilets generally do not have in-built water systems to clear out the waste from the toilet bowl. Instead, they comprise a structure that you can sit over.

The excreta from such dry toilets are then taken through the drainage pipe and into a sewage or disposal area. These could also be organic composting sites.

You can also pour some water into the bowl to clear out the waste.

Squat Toilets

Squat toilets are those that have a bowl in the center that requires you to squat over them whenever you need to use the toilet. These could either be dry (with water-pouring requirements) or with a flush technology to clear out the waste.

These could also have other systems such as sensors, urine separation, separate water tanks, and more, depending on the region.

Final Remarks

That concludes this detailed crash course on toilets. Through this, we have not only looked into how toilets work and what parts are involved, but also the types of toilets that can be found all over the world.

While your toilet cleans itself up through its flushing mechanism, it is important to undertake regular cleaning and maintenance with cleaning agents so that you can avoid the build-up of germs and odors.

This can also help maintain proper sanitation to prevent health issues.

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