There was a time when flushing a toilet used 8 to 10 gallons of water. By today’s standards, that’s like flushing a toilet five or more times every time you use it!

Fortunately, things have changed. With a long history in the toilet industry, Kohler has had time to improve our water conservation. Over the years, we’ve reduced our gallons per flush (gpf) to literally 0.

To get a better idea of where we are now, here’s a look back at where things started…

1904 – 2 gallons of water per flush.
A surprisingly low flow rate, considering the era. With water stored high on the wall, gravity did all the work for these early models.

From Kohler’s 1904 catalog

1930s – 8 to 10 gallons of water per flush.
As styles changed, having the tank sit directly on the back of the bowl became the standard. Since that reduced the water pressure, these newer designs compensated by using more water.

1970s – 3.5 gallons of water per flush.
Water conservation really picked up in the ’70s. As water shortages and an increasing awareness of environmental damage drove water-use restrictions. In 1974, Kohler introduced a line of low-consumption toilets, faucets and showerheads. The Wellworth® Water-Guard toilet used 3.5 gallons per flush, a reduction of 30% from conventional toilets.

“Kohler Saves Water” ad, 1975


“Save Precious Water” ad, 1977

1980s – 1.5 gallons of water per flush.
Several cities and states, most notably the state of Massachusetts, started mandating 1.6 gpf toilets. In 1989, Kohler introduced Wellworth® Lite featuring a 1.5 gallon flush.

1990s – 1.0 gallons of water per flush.
By 1990, Kohler had five low-consumption toilets. In 1991, Pressure Clean toilets first appeared, which later became Pressure Lite® technology, using only 1.0 to 1.4 gallons of water. Dual Flush technology was also introduced, allowing users to choose from two water-saving flushes, 1.0 or 1.6 gallons.

2000s – 0 gallons of water per flush.
In 2008, Kohler introduced Class Six® technology, offering a 1.28 gpf option. Dual Flush toilets also went from a 1.0 option to .8. But Steward® waterless urinals took the prize for most water saved, clocking in at 0 gallons. Kohler began participating in the Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, and received two WaterSense awards from the EPA. Kohler’s own Environmental, Health and Safety building was also awarded LEED® status from the U.S. Green Building Council.


Steward waterless urinals

As Kohler continues to make strides in water conservation, more and more products and technologies are developed to keep the kitchen and bath sustainable. With more than 20 high-efficiency toilets (1.28 gpf or less) and a variety of water-saving faucets, showerheads and urinals, we’re well on our way to helping others help the planet.