If you’re one that worries about how clean public restrooms really are, you’re not alone.
One dad in Pocatello was concerned after his son had a filthy experience in a public restroom – and that led him to a new invention in the bathroom industry.
Many people in Bannock County are wondering why current Bannock County clerk Robert Poleki didn’t run for re-election this year. Poleki is working on pursuing some other interests in th business world.
“This year I decided not to put my name on the ballot because I’ve been given the opportunity of a lifetime and it won’t allow me to run for public office,” Poleki explained.
An opportunity, which according to an Instagram post by Poleki, includes auditioning for ABC’s “Shark Tank” to try, and flush out some interest for his new invention.
Though Poleki can’t talk about the status or results of his audition with “Shark Tank,” he can talk about his idea to invent Washie: the self cleaning toilet.
“My son was at the airport and he wanted to use the restroom,” Poleki described his inspiration behind Washie. “He was about to sit on a disgusting seat and I grabbed him right away, got some toilet paper and some soap and I wiped the seat down for him because there was no paper toilet seat cover. And that’s where I came up with the invention.”
Now, three years of work later, Poleki has a prototype of Washie.
“It’s really easy,” Poleki explained. “You just have to remember an easy phrase: ‘Grab, Swipe, and Wipe.’ Grab a piece of toilet paper, swipe your hand over a sensor located on the side of the seat and when the fluid rises from the seat, wipe down the seat clean before you sit on it.”
“The cartridge is filled with a mixture of disinfectant fluid and sanitizer,” Poleki described the liquid that comes out to clean the seat. “It has about 85% alcohol in it so when you wipe it, it evaporates. It’s just like sanitizer.”
Poleki said the hardest part of the whole process has been just figuring out how to go about being an entrepreneur. He said learning what to do each step of the way has been a good learning experience for him. He said he’s taken his time these past three years to make sure he’s doing it right.
Poleki added that another tough part is going all in with the invention. Now that he will no longer be county clerk, come January, Poleki said he will no longer have a steady job, so he’s counting on his invention to be successful. He added that he has put a lot of time, energy and all of his savings into making this happen. Poleki said the prototype alone cost $7,000.
But he said the response and interest from people has been very positive.
“Most people think that it’s genius,” he said. “This idea of a sanitized seat hasn’t been brought out to the public, mostly because the ones that sanitize themselves are way too expensive. Mine is affordable – it costs $39. “If you see some of the toilet seats in Chicago with the plastic toilet seat covers on them, those are $200 to $300 a piece. Plus you have to maintenance it and things like that. So I’ve invented a more affordable and sanitized toilet seat.”
Poleki said he’s been showing the Washie to several businesses and companies, and he said he’s even had a few major companies reach out to him.
Poleki got a patent a month ago. He said he hasn’t sold any yet, but he already has about $100,000 worth of preorders, so he hopes that’s a good sign of things to come with Washie, and he hopes we can all soon be seeing the Washie in public restrooms.
Poleki added he isn’t ready to give up his political experience yet – he said he hopes to come back to politics in a couple years.
To learn more about Washie, you can go to its website here.
You can also follow Washie on its Facebook page.