Of all the rooms in any building, there is perhaps no more important room to the perception of how clean a facility is as the restroom.
Industry studies over the years have consistently shown that people are inherently displeased with restrooms.
Issues such as odor, litter and lack of hygiene in restrooms typically receive the most criticism during satisfaction surveys.
However, where a problem exists, so does an opportunity.
New technology coupled with a fresh approach to maintaining your restrooms can make you a hero in your building.
Let''s take a look at some of the latest technology that will help you solve this age old problem.
One of the biggest changes in restroom care in the past 10 years is the introduction of touch-free cleaning.
Touch-free cleaning offers a number of benefits — the least of which is the fact that it is touch-free — which allows the worker to perform their task of cleaning the restroom without contacting the surfaces and touch points.
This increases worker safety and comfort as well as productivity.
Additionally, touch-free cleaning allows the worker to clean more thoroughly than they can with conventional cleaning tools.
Touch-free systems use pressure to apply chemicals, allow them the proper amount of dwell time to work and then rinse surfaces with clean water to be recovered.
This process allows the workers to clean all the surfaces in a restroom — bear in mind that touch-free systems are not compatible with drywall — including mirrors, sinks, toilets, urinals and counters.
During this process, soils in areas that are typically not accessible with conventional cleaning products, such as toilet hinges, under the hood that covers the junction between water line and a toilet or urinal and faucet knobs, can be cleaned.
These areas are typically inaccessible and are breeding grounds for bacteria and odors.
Touch-free cleaning also includes drip systems, which are hard plumbed and automatically drip cleaning chemicals into toilets and urinals.
They offer continual maintenance and odor control, which helps when you have staffing challenges and high-traffic restrooms.
Sealing And Scrubbing Grout Lines
One of the most common issues in restrooms is discolored grout lines, usually caused by mopping the floor and leaving behind dirty water.
The water will naturally seek out the lowest spot on the floor, which just happens to be in the grout lines.
Due to the pervious nature of grout, soils will actually make their way into the grout and settle as the moisture evaporates.
What is left behind is soil along with a detergent residue that acts as a binder to trap the soil in the grout.
One solution to this problem is to clean the grout lines and then seal or impregnate them so that the perviousness is reduced and soils cannot penetrate the grout.
This will make the grout easier to clean and will improve the appearance over the life of the restroom.
Be sure that you are satisfied with the appearance of the grout before sealing it, as this will also seal any soils or residues that are left behind.
The only way to improve the appearance if that happens is to remove the grout and re-grout the floor.
Another solution is to use a cylindrical scrubber instead of a mop to clean the floors.
Unlike mops, cylindrical scrubbers have the ability to recover the solution applied to the floor during the cleaning process along with the soil on the floor.
Additionally, a cylindrical scrubber does a much better job of removing soils from grout lines because it has the ability to lift the soils out of the grout during the cleaning process.
Micro-scrubbers make this kind of cleaning possible in virtually every restroom.
Understanding how a disinfectant works, properly mixing and providing adequate dwell time have always been a challenge.
Years ago, custodians were taught to spray the toilets down with disinfectant first and clean the rest of the restroom to allow for proper dwell time.
This was a decent concept, except when the only restroom in the area is "closed for service," which tends to make for rather unhappy patrons.
When maintaining restrooms, we need to balance the "needs" of building occupants with the need to create a safe and hygienic environment.
We must keep in mind that proper dwell time will not only kill all the germs a product claims to, but it also helps eliminate odor issues caused by those germs.
In years past, some custodians used bleach for disinfection and typically did not measure chemicals.
Sometimes, chemicals were even mixed together, creating a very dangerous situation for custodians and building occupants.
Today, the utilization of metered dilution systems precisely mixes super-concentrated chemicals with water to create a usable product.
This not only saves money by not wasting product, but it also creates a more effective product as well.
Furthermore, properly mixed chemicals are safer for custodians and building occupants.
Today, instead of bleach, we use much safer disinfectants such as quaternaries (quats) that kill a wide variety of germs, won''t harm most surfaces and are more stable in solution.
Better still are the hydrogen peroxide-based disinfectant cleaners that kill germs much faster, have a health rating of zero and clean as well as a general purpose cleaner.
With a shorter dwell time, a better kill rate and good cleaning efficacy, hydrogen peroxide-based products have been revolutionary in the evolution of a clean restroom.
Remember the days when an aerosol can on the back of the toilet was an industry standard?
Today''s technology has taken that aerosol can and put into a metered system for automatic dispensing.
In the past, there were a number of challenges associated with these systems.
Some of the main challenges were the level of difficulty to program the unit and the fact that they required batteries, which were often stolen.
Today''s air care systems have a power source built right into them that lasts a reasonable amount of time.
Additionally, much of the guesswork has been taken out of the programming.
People value air care, as it is often the first thing they notice when entering a restroom.
It is recommended that you change the fragrances occasionally because when people get used to a certain fragrance they will not be able to smell it anymore.
Changing fragrances on occasion will keep your restrooms always smelling fresh.
Other ideas such as automated faucets, hand soap and paper towel dispensers have become industry standards in a restroom.
Touch-free technology continues to lead the way in safety and comfort for patrons.
Combined with chemical and equipment technology, our restrooms have come a long way indeed.
Richard "Bo" Bodo is the director of business development for Windsor Industries. Bo is an IICRC-certified Instructor, Master Textile Cleaner, member of the consensus bodies of both the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) S100 Carpet Care Standard and IICRC S600 Carpet Installation Standard and an industry writer with a background in both chemical and equipment manufacturing. Jo-Ann Pelletier-Lemay is employed by Unisource Worldwide as the zone manager for facility supplies in the Northeast. Pelletier-Lemay has trained hundreds of housekeepers and custodians on topics such as restroom care, handwashing, bloodborne pathogens and right to know. She is a certified Green Specialist and, in addition to running a sales team, writes and executes training programs for customers.