What Is a Murphy Toilet?

The Murphy toilet might be a fold-away toilet modeled after the once common apartment beds. Indeed there are such toilets, but they are not called Murphy toilets. They are made for campers and people in very confined spaces and apparently work quite well. The name could also be a reference to Mr. Martin Murphy who founded a portable toilet business in his later years. More likely, the Murphy toilet is the prison toilet that was invented to flush on only 1 gallon of water.

Prisoners flush their toilets an average of 30 times per day.


Prison inmates use an inordinate amount of water for which the system pays. That translates into huge amounts of money that could be better spent in other areas. Inmates flush more times than the average person, which is mostly due to the fact that the toilet is used for other things than the intended purpose. Contraband, cigarettes and debris are flushed routinely. Additionally, some prisoners use the bowl to chill their cans of pop by flushing often to replenish the cool water.


Prison toilets have to be plumbed behind the wall, and all the trappings that make them work have to be hidden from the users. They are usually metal, so the sometimes frustrated denizens of the cells can't use them to break things. The design is seamless and durable. The toilets have to stand up to hard and potentially damaging usage. Enter Audie Murphy who works for Metcraft. He is in charge of research and development and has created a low-water flushing model toilet specifically targeted at corrections institutions.


The toilet is durable and of seamless stainless steel design, but the real thrill is the level of water it uses. The inventor says it can flush on only eight-tenths of a gallon. Murphy developed a reseal cylinder, among other top secret features, that allows the toilet to operate on a minimal amount of water. The toilet is expected to save water and money if it goes into production for prison system use. At this time it has been introduced at several trade fairs to favorable reviews.


The average prison toilet operates on 5 gallons of water. Multiply that by the 30 times per day many prison inmates flush the toilet, and that is 150 gallons of water used in just waste removal. Cleaning, showering, cooking and other uses take up the remainder of the water usage. The installation of these toilets can save 120 gallons of water per prisoner per day, which is a significant benefit to the corrections system's water bill.

Bonnie Grant

Bonnie Grant began writing professionally in 1990. She has been published on various websites, specializing in garden-related instructional articles. Grant recently earned a Bachelor of Arts in business management with a hospitality focus from South Seattle Community College.