Photography by Danny Fulgencio.
If you’ve ever lifted a toilet seat and felt a little squeamish about touching the mysterious liquids on the back, Richard Harris can help you get a handle on the problem.
The Casa View neighbor is the sole distributor of the Sani Hani, a plastic antimicrobial handle that attaches to the underside of a toilet seat and provides users with an alternative to physically touching the seat.
“There has to be something other than using your foot or your hand,” Harris says. “That’s still archaic to me. I came across this product and said, ‘This is genius.’ It’s so simple, so needed.”
A three-time survivor of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Harris became more aware of germs and bacteria during his hospital stays over the past 10 years. When he discovered Sani Hani, he installed the sanitary device in the hospital’s staff bathroom and public restroom.
“If I had picked up anything in the bathroom, I had no immune system,” he says.
He became so passionate about the product that he used his skills as a former private investigator to track down the inventor. The two struck a deal, and Harris and his wife received exclusive worldwide marketing and distribution rights.
Harris always carries a toilet seat with him when he goes to visit clients. When he arrives, he puts the seat on their desk and says, “You don’t mind if I put my toilet seat here, do you?”
It’s a persuasive tactic.
Through their business, Flushed with Pride, the couple have sold thousands of Sani Hanis to individuals and commercial businesses throughout the United States. In December, sales skyrocketed when the digital magazine Bustle included Sani Hani in the article, “These 42 Products Are Bestsellers On Amazon Because They Solve Your Trickiest Problems.”
Locally, neighbors will see the toilet seat handles at Hello Dumpling, Maya’s Modern Mediterranean, Goodfriend Package, Khao Noodle Shop and other establishments. It’s also in high-traffic areas like hospitals, schools, airports, banks and gyms.
“I see this being as common and ubiquitous as toilet paper,” Harris says.
The Sani Hani, short for “sanitary handle,” is made with plastic that’s infused with antimicrobial ingredients that stop the growth of various bacteria like E. coli, salmonella, staph and listeria, according to Food and Drug Administration reports.
It’s ergonomically designed to extend away from the toilet and slope downward so it won’t get in the way while you’re doing your business.
The Harrises also experimented with adhesives until they found the current one, which can withstand up to 20 pounds of downward pressure and last up to 10 years. The package even comes with an alcohol pad and two adhesive strips that can be stacked on top of each other to fit slightly curved toilet seats.
In February 2019, the couple auditioned for “Shark Tank” at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. None of the sharks took the bait, but they plan to try again as they introduce product variations, which may include portable handles.
“Sometimes [the back of a toilet seat] is wet and yucky. Isn’t this much more sanitary? It just makes sense,” Harris says. “That’s why our motto is: ‘We’re No.1 for No.1. Everybody needs a lift now and then, and we have a handle on it.’”
The Sani Hani can be purchased for less than $10 at Ace Hardware in Lakewood, Lowe’s online store and Amazon.
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