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Restroom Care

Cleaning In Between The Lines

February 01, 2011
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As indicated in numerous customer satisfaction surveys and industry studies, restroom cleanliness reflects on the overall perception of a facility.

As such, ensuring that all surfaces are clean and free of unwanted germs, soils and bacteria is crucial in keeping building occupants satisfied.

Restroom cleaning regimens outline that all visible surfaces, both vertical and horizontal, be cleaned and sanitized — or disinfected — on a regular and consistent basis.

However, more thorough restroom cleaning guidelines note the importance of cleaning in between the lines — so to speak — because microscopic germs and bacteria can lurk in crevices and other areas that generally do not receive much cleaning attention.

"While it is important to clean every nook and cranny of a restroom, the most important areas to focus on for disinfecting are the surfaces that people touch: Door knobs and levers, hand-activated dispensers, sink faucet handles, etc.," says Greg Hill, category manager for Zep Inc. "Most people aren''t touching the hidden nooks and crannies, so cleaning those areas can be done less frequently and for appearance versus germ removal."

Anyone who has ever walked into a restroom and noticed a buildup of what can only be described as gunk around fixtures understands how vital detail cleaning is.

Add soiled grout lines and streaky mirrors to the undeterminable gunk and you have an off-putting recipe of dissatisfactory clean restrooms.

Can''t You Smell That Smell?

Failing to focus on detail cleaning in restrooms can not only lead to unsightly or damaged surfaces, it can also promote malodors.

Sometimes, regularly scheduled cleanings of common high-touch areas is not enough to rid a restroom of soils that bacteria feed off of, which leads to unpleasant smells.

Regardless of how clean the restroom appears, an odor will overpower the senses and give the impression that the restroom is dirty and unsanitary.

The only solution is frequent detail cleaning of the entire restroom, not just where visible soils exist.

Some operations with extremely tight budgets or poorly trained staff will spray air fresheners or employ other odor-masking techniques instead of eliminating malodors at their source.

While they may feel this is a quick and easy way to improve the perceived cleanliness of the restroom, their actions — or, more appropriately, inactions — are counterproductive and potentially harmful.

Constant use of air fresheners and things of the like contribute to poor air quality and can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the environment.

Moreover, failing to sufficiently clean all surfaces in a restroom will contribute to bacteria replication and leave more potentially harmful pathogens to be cleaned at a later date.

However, failing to adequately clean can be as equally detrimental to air quality as using harsh chemicals with poor ventilation.

"Bleach is a commonly used disinfectant that does a good job of killing germs," notes Hill. "But, at the same time, the fumes can be overpowering, especially in a confined space like a restroom stall."

Proper Restroom Cleaning

Cleaning, which has traditionally been done for appearance, has taken on more of an infection control function in the past several years.

As a result, many facilities and contractors are increasingly focusing their attention on cleaning for health.

According to Mike Weber of Procter & Gamble Professional, when cleaning professionals strive to get rid of soils and germs, it also reduces the transmission of infectious diseases while at the same time impacting the aesthetics of the facility.

When the level of cleanliness is improved, germ levels will be reduced and a facility''s appearance will improve.

Choosing the proper tools, chemicals and equipment will make specific restroom cleaning tasks much easier and more effective.

There are devices available that can access hard-to-reach areas such as those behind commodes or between fixtures and countertops.

"We see sales of touchless cleaning systems growing exponentially as facility managers and cleaning professionals become increasingly aware of the productivity improvements and resultant improvements in hygiene standards that they deliver," proclaims Bradley Drury, product manager for Hydro Systems Company. "This trend has accelerated of late with the growing awareness and concern associated with nosocomial infections."

When combined with properly diluted cleaners and disinfectants — and, in some cases, technologies like ionized water that require no chemicals — these tools, which include spray-and-vacuum systems, motorized scrub brushes and various microfiber products, make the removal of unwanted matter easier, improving the perceived and actual cleanliness of your restroom.

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