Sani Marc Group’s virtual magazine

The “Dirty” Truth About Public Washrooms

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Public washrooms are not always the havens of cleanliness we’d like them to be, despite the fact that most public establishments take hygiene seriously.

There’s no denying that a clean and odour-free washroom goes a long way toward ensuring satisfied customers and a thriving business. The flip side is that the more customers you have, the more traffic your washrooms will get. And we all know just how quickly a busy washroom can get dirty. But in the business world, there’s no excuse for having dirty washrooms. Keeping them clean has to be a priority.

Cleaning staff actually have two main tasks when cleaning public washrooms: cleaning for appearance and cleaning for health. Obviously, washrooms need to be visibly clean for user perception, but also – and more importantly – to eliminate harmful microorganisms. Bacteria and viruses such as E. coli, hepatitis A and norovirus are often found in washrooms and are linked to outbreaks and the spread of diseases.

Did you know?

  • Feminine hygiene bins have the highest concentration of germs and bacteria in public washrooms.
  • You’re more likely to find fecal bacteria on hot water taps than on toilet seats.
  • Flushing toilets can spray bacteria into the air as far as 6 metres away, so remember to keep your mouth closed!

Good-to-know tips for businesses

  • First and foremost, have a regular and thorough cleaning program in place. Keep in mind that an effective cleaning system does not necessarily mean higher costs.
  • Look for products with controlled dilution. They will maximize efficiency, make cleaning easier and minimize waste.
  • If possible, use sustainable cleaning products, which work just as well (if not better) than conventional products; plus they’re better for the environment. Not only will they help to prevent the spread of germs, but they will be safe for workers, customers and the environment as well.
  • Install a waste bin near washroom exits. This will allow visitors to use a paper towel to grab the door handle and thus avoid coming into direct contact with germs. It will also help to keep the washroom clean.
  • Consider adding hand sanitizer dispensers outside washrooms, in shared areas and in public spaces to reduce the spread of germs and bacteria.
  • If possible, install touchless faucets and flushing mechanisms to minimize direct contact. The more a person touches his or her face (eyes, nose and mouth) after touching a contaminated surface, the greater his or her chances of spreading human microbial pathogens.
  • Always use the right cleaning products for the type of surface being cleaned. For example, air fresheners can only do so much when it comes to masking urine odours. Products that destroy the odour-causing bacteria by attacking the problem directly at its source instead will be much more effective. A UV flashlight can also help you pinpoint traces of urine and dirt. By disinfecting your washrooms carefully and thoroughly, you’ll keep unwanted odours under control.

Good-to-know tips for public washroom users

  • Close the toilet lid before flushing (if there is one)
  • Use your foot to flush the toilet
  • Line the toilet seat with toilet paper before you sit down (or simply squat instead).
  • In short, the fewer surfaces you touch in a public washroom, the better.

But these tips don’t lessen the importance having properly cleaned and maintained washrooms.

As a final thought, it’s important to keep in mind that business owners are not solely responsible for keeping their washrooms clean. All users must do their part. When using a public washroom, treat it as if it were your own.



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