Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online
November 2013 Feature 6
toilet cleaning

Achieving Complete Restroom Care

Effective disinfection and deodorizing options help address one of the industry’s biggest challenges.

November 13, 2013

According to a recent survey, two-thirds of consumers would refuse to patronize establishments such as restaurants or hotels with dirty restrooms, and more than half said they would likely review a business more negatively — online or offline — based on whether the restroom was clean.1

Research from Harvard Business School found that Yelp reviews can have a 5 to 9 percent effect on business revenues,2 meaning bad reviews can translate to lower profits.

Clearly, restroom cleanliness is important to businesses’ bottom lines, so eliminating odors and maintaining a clean restroom are critical for cleaning professionals and business owners.

Cleaning restrooms can be one of the toughest jobs cleaners face.

Aside from implementing an effective cleaning protocol that takes into account frequency of use, selecting the right products to clean and disinfect is perhaps the most important thing you can do to properly clean a restroom.

There are numerous products on the market that promise everything from disinfecting to deodorizing in a number of different forms and costs, but the best options can help you achieve a better, more efficient clean, saving you time and money.

Addressing Urine Odors And Stains

Urine, specifically its odors and stains, presents one of the toughest challenges when it comes to cleaning restrooms.

Three out of four American consumers are disgusted by urine stains and odors in public restrooms,1 making it one of the most important problems to address.

Tough-to-clean urine stains and odors can make an otherwise clean facility seem unappealing and dirty, despite the hard work of cleaning professionals.

One of the biggest problems with urine odors is that many products simply mask odors with air fresheners.

To properly address odors, remember the following:

  • The effective and lasting solution to eliminating odors lies in breaking down uric acid crystals and removing the source of the odors rather than just masking them.
  • Porous damp surfaces, such as grout, hold bacteria, which feed on urine in humid conditions, and wetting the surface can reactivate the odor. To combat this, look for products that work on hard and soft surfaces and incorporate them as a regular part of your cleaning routine.
  • Avoid dilutable bathroom cleaners which tend to work poorly on long-term odors since they typically contain little active ingredient after dilution, making it harder to completely remove uric acid crystals from porous surfaces such as grout.
  • Use hydrogen-peroxide-based cleaners for removing stains and odors.

Porous surfaces not only trap odor-causing bacteria and urine, but also are susceptible to stains.

To eliminate urine stains, look for products with surfactants that penetrate deep into surfaces to reach and break up the cause of stains.

Cleaning The Air

The best way to eliminate odors is by breaking down their source — typically urine crystals, most often found in restroom grout.

Cleaning professionals can remove odors directly from the air by choosing an aerosol product that eliminates odor at its source using an active ingredient to kill airborne odor-causing bacteria.  

Disinfecting High-touch Surfaces

There are other concerns beyond stains and odors in restrooms.

The most obvious is disinfecting hard surfaces.

Restrooms are home to some of the most contaminated surfaces including sinks, counter tops, divider panels, urinals, toilets, walls and high-touch surfaces such as door knobs, toilet handles, stall locks and faucets.

To prevent transmission of bacteria on these surfaces from the frequent guest visits and each flush of the toilet, remember the following:

  • Select products specifically formulated and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered to kill bacteria. Bleach- and hydrogen peroxide-based products are especially effective.
  • Follow label instructions regarding contact time — how long a product needs to “dwell” on surfaces in order to kill the bacteria. Disinfectants will only work and achieve their EPA-registered kill claims if they are applied for the appropriate contact/dwell time.
  • Disinfectants with short kill times and a wide range of kill claims provide the best value, since they do more with less.

Rounding Out The Clean

Beyond disinfecting, cleaning professionals should also address mold and mildew, soap scum, streaks and watermarks, soils and everyday soiling conditions found in restrooms.

To treat soap scum, look for products specifically formulated to break down soap scum quickly and remove it from sinks, counter tops and other surfaces.

If mold and mildew are an issue, use products specifically designed to remove them, especially in tile and grout.

Keep floors slip-free and looking and smelling clean by removing grime, scuff marks and odors with a multi-surface cleaner.

Finally, remember that mirrors and glass are important surfaces as well.

To keep them shinning, remove water marks, soils and streaks with a glass cleaner.

Restrooms are one of the toughest areas that cleaning professionals face, in any industry or facility.

By selecting products for the job that tackle all areas of the restroom — from streaky mirrors to stinky smells — you can ensure that restrooms stay sparkling clean and odor-free while keeping customers happy and protecting the businesses’ bottom lines.


1Clorox Professional Products Company and Opinion Research Corporation. (March 2013). Restroom Pet Peeves Omnibus Survey. (Survey of 1,005 U.S. adults)

2Luca, Michael. (2011, September 16). Reviews, Reputation, and Revenue: The Case of Retrieved from


Steve Schultz has a BS in chemical engineering, a MS in organizational administration and 10 years of product development experience with cleaning products, including those specially formulated to tackle tough restroom jobs like Clorox® Urine Remover. For more information on product solutions to help achieve a complete clean in restrooms, and address other tough jobs, visit