Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

The Restroom Of The Future: Complete Automation

September 9, 2011

When out in public, using the restroom is often unavoidable.

Natural bodily functions cannot be turned off, and when nature calls, one has no choice but to answer.

However, many fear public restrooms because of the actual and perceived contamination therein.

Like most others, I do not fancy touching surfaces in public areas — particularly those in restrooms.

I justify this with a common excuse: I do not know who or what touched the surface before me and I am unsure as to when the last cleaning of that surface was or if it was thorough.

To help reduce the risk of cross-contamination when contacting doorknobs, faucet handles or other high-touch surfaces, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using paper towels to open doors or turn off water supplies, etc.

While this creates a temporary barrier between skin and contaminated surfaces, it does nothing to eliminate touch points and, ultimately, creates additional refuse.

Moreover, what does one do when the supply of paper towels has been depleted?

The solution: Complete automation.

The Power Of Persuasion

Because the perception of cleanliness is so important to restroom patrons — regardless of actual, measurable, hygienic cleanliness — facility managers should take every feasible step to eliminate touch points, which increases end-user confidence.

Not only will a restroom with minimal touch points feel more welcoming to a building occupant, it will also improve the chances an individual will comply with proper handwashing and drying protocols, helping to keep them and others present in the facility safe and healthy.

To satisfy customers, businesses must ensure restrooms are clean and functioning.

If patrons feel safe and welcomed in a restroom, the chances they will complain greatly decrease.

Because restrooms are generally the largest source of customer dissatisfaction, the overall instances of complaints can be significantly diminished with automation.

Aside from the user perspective, automated restrooms make the jobs of custodial professionals easier.

With fewer touch points, less time will be spent cleaning a restroom, saving invaluable time and resources.

Because labor accounts for a vast majority of operating budgets, an automated restroom can help procure long-term cost savings.

Just as restrooms are often cited as a significant source of complaints from users, those tasked with cleaning them complain, too.

Many restrooms are designed to be cleaned, but doing so requires time, patience and perseverance.

Another aspect of the automated restroom, and one that makes cleaning easier, is touch-free cleaning.

With spray-and-vacuum and spray-and-squeegee systems, touch points are virtually eliminated for janitors and custodians.

When automation is taken to this level, surfaces are able to be sprayed and scrubbed clean without ever having to physically touch anything.

Plus, as studies have shown, touchless cleaning devices are able to achieve superior results in less time, as they are better able to clean deeply into grout lines and other cracks and crevices.

This helps ensure that soils are removed — not just spread around, as is often the case with mopping or wiping — and potential malodors never metastasize.

Not only is this beneficial for cleaners, but it also makes for more satisfied patrons in that restrooms are cleaner with less downtime.

Infection Control Efforts

Many automated components in restrooms are aesthetically pleasing.

But, in addition to their sleek modernity, touchless fixtures contribute to infection control and prevention efforts.

A recent study concluded that germs and bacteria can be spread from one person to the next seven surfaces he or she touches.

Theoretically, a patron can contaminate all of the common touch points in a clean restroom during one visit.

Then, whoever visits the restroom after that can further contaminate the area and bring that contamination to other parts of the facility.

With an automated restroom, those potential points of infection are removed, which greatly reduces the chances of someone contracting a virus or other bug from their restroom stop.

In addition, some of the new touchless dispensers are treated with antimicrobial agents that resist germs and bacteria.

Healthy building occupants are happy building occupants, and a clean, automated restroom can help keep them productive and pleased.