Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Toilet Humor

August 16, 2012

Commercial restrooms are notoriously one of the most difficult areas in a facility to hygienically clean and keep clean.

Not only are restrooms literal toxic waste stations, but their high foot traffic puts an added burden on custodial professionals with increasingly robust workloads.

Building occupants demand clean restrooms — both visually and olfactorily — and will largely base their opinions on an establishment and its cleaning and maintenance efforts on the state of said area.

This is not always a fair assessment, though, because restroom "cleanliness" is a subjective appraisal.

For example, a restroom may have been cleaned moments before a patron makes a stop; but, because another end-user has splashed water onto the countertop or left paper towels or toilet tissue strewn on the floor, the perception is that the restroom is "filthy" and "unkempt."

I am not entirely innocent when it comes to the aforementioned acumen.

If I enter a malodorous restroom — after applying my best Inspector Gadget-like skills to quickly diagnose the problem before notifying the proper authority, if applicable — I make a point to not frequent that particular restroom.

Moreover, when I see soiled grout lines, refuse on the floors — be it hair, paper product scraps or dust — and any number of indicators signaling less-than-optimal cleanliness, I form a negative opinion about the cleaning staff and the facility as a whole.

Such surmising is not always justified — maybe the operation is short staffed or the restroom saw an unusually high number of users that day — but it is human nature to find the responsible parties and hold them accountable.

Say What?

According to a recent telephone survey conducted on behalf of Cintas Corporation, more than 75 percent of U.S. adults would avoid a restaurant, hotel or medical facility if they encountered a dirty restroom.

The study, which reiterates the notion that if customers are not satisfied with the perceived cleanliness of a restroom they will take their business elsewhere, concluded that restrooms in disrepair cost businesses sales, referrals and potential repeat business.

It turns out that restroom patrons have a realistic reason to be weary.

As evidenced by a study that appeared in the August 2011 issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, touching one contaminated surface — also known as a fomite — can spread bacteria to up to the next seven surfaces touched.

This means that the public''s predisposition to avoid unclean restrooms is an infection avoidance technique.

Of course, there are numerous other surfaces to which the germs and bacteria may have mitigated — this is part of the larger cleaning for health issue — but the focus in this rant is restrooms.

The key point is to spread such knowledge not only to the remaining quarter of the public, but also to custodial and maintenance professionals who have an affect on the level and frequency of restroom cleaning.


Send comments or thoughts on this topic or any other article that appears in CM/Cleaning & Maintenance Management magazine, to ABaunee@NTPMedia.com .