How to trick the autoflush toilet sensor in public restrooms

This may be the most useful tip you'll get all year. From James:

My son had the bejebus scared out of him by the autoflushing toilet when we were just starting training. I don't blame him, me holding him over the pot trying to keep him from falling in while he did his business. Then out of nowhere WOOSH!

Since then, he's been very concerned whenever he has to confront one. I've tried to stand in front of the sensor or hold my hand near it, and it works sometimes, but it needs to work ALL THE TIME! I found that if you drape a length of toilet paper over the sensor (folded over a few times), you can fool the Potty Eye. Then when he's all set we can pull it off and let the flush happen.

No more worrying about getting sucked down the pipes and he gets a kick out of fooling the potty!

Even now, both my kids are wary of autoflush toilets. When my son was in preschool and we were stuck in an airport restroom somewhere dealing with a particularly loud self-flushing toilet, he yelled, "Who's the jerk who invented this? Didn't he know that kids have issues?"

Related: What to do with your kid when you're in a public restroom?


  1. says

    I have the opposite problem, I need to figure out how to trigger the sensor for urinals.

    My son is typically too short to trigger it himself. Then he wants to climb all over the urinal trying to find the manual button, they don’t all have one it seems. He doesn’t want to leave till it flushes.

  2. Greg says

    I use my hand or a wet towel over the sensor. It too a wile to convince my son (yes, several times I stood over the toilet with may and over the sensor, no tell what people though was going on).

  3. says

    “Who’s the jerk who invented this? Didn’t he know that kids have issues?”

    OMG, Asha — your son is now officially on my *Kids I Adore* list.

    P.S. Sticky notes…brilliant!

  4. says

    Got any hacks for obnoxious kids who accompany you into the stall and then gleefully WAVE AT THE POTTY EYE so that their Mom winds up with a public restroom enema?

    Maybe I should tape them to the inside of the door with that blue painter’s tape we all love so much.

  5. says

    I’m sorry Jamie, but that comment had me laughing. I’m sure you don’t at the time; but it’s a bit funny.

    I don’t know how to fix it because I am sure if it were my kid, I’d be laughing…which would only encourage him more.

  6. says

    LOL I do the same thing for my 7 year old girl. Her older sisters think I am nuts but it works. She can go to the bathroom and get the privacy she needs because I don’t have to be there to cover the senser with my hand.

  7. Tiffany says

    This is like a gift from heaven! I can’t count the number of times the flusher has scared my daughter, mid-stream, off the pot only to soak herself. THANK YOU!

  8. Linda says

    Thanks for this tip. My 4-year-old is TERRIFIED of auto-flush toilets. She has been ever since one flushed while she was sitting on it. Now those things are the No. 1 fear in her life.

  9. says

    The first time our one-year-old daughter was in a public bathroom and the toilet flushed on its own, she said, “Bless you!” She knew she hadn’t flushed anything, so just assumed the thing sneezed.

  10. Heather says

    I am seriously LMBO at the comment…my husband’s uncle was one of the engineers who invented the autoflush…I’m going to have to pass this onto him! He’ll love it! Too freaking funny!!!

    • chelsey says

      Can you also tell him to invent a auto flush with a timer that can be set so you know how long you have until it try’s to scare you or make all auto flush toilets have lids so when its up the toilet cant flush until its put back down..i really hate those things ..i am 25 years old now and I’m still scared for life from way back when.

  11. says

    Oh, how I wish I had read this earlier! I’ve never seen autoflush toilets here in Sweden where I live, but a visit to NY in january last year set my daugther’s toilet training back several months. 16 months later I still have to convince her in every public restroom that she can decide for herself when to flush.

  12. says

    My daughter is about to be 7 & is just finally not afraid to use public restrooms because of those darn things. Great idea with the tp, I usually try to use my hand to stop it.

  13. ladybug21 says

    I am not a parent, but I am SCARED STIFF of electic toilets. Its not the feeling that they will suck me in, it is the look of them. I cant go on one with out like a crowd in the bathroom. IT IS NUTTsS!!!!! I tell my self just to go. But I cant. I never grew out of it, but I really want 2