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Restroom Care

Stemming Cross-contamination

February 01, 2011
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Building managers and operators work hard every day to ensure the facilities for which they care are visually appealing and clean on the outside.

Whether operating a restaurant, a retail store, a hospital, an automotive repair shop or a school, customers, visitors and guests want to have a positive experience in your facility.

But, what happens when guests have to delve deeper inside your building, possibly having to use the restroom?

Are your guests going to be met with the same pleasant cleanliness that greeted them in the parking lot and building lobby?

"Studies show restrooms, while only occupying less than five percent of a building''s space, end up receiving more than 40 percent of a building''s waste load," said Megen Boswell, director of sales at Sani-Giene LLC. "Heavy foot traffic, various water sources and other variables, such as the customers'' germs and dirty hands, converge in a building''s restroom to create an unintentional lab that breeds germs and bacteria."

Inadequate restroom cleaning harms human health and reaps negative customer impressions, which can result in lost business.

No one likes frequenting an establishment with restrooms that are dirty or perceived as dirty and could potentially lead to the spread of germs through cross-contamination.

One thing business owners can do to win the war on germs is to establish a cultural practice that promotes safety and awareness about how germs are spread.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hand washing is the most important procedure for preventing the spread of infection.

However, numerous studies show that as many as 25 percent of all restroom users will leave the facility with some form of bacteria on their hands.

The Criticality Of Cleaning

To improve restroom cleanliness, building operators should identify the critical areas of the restroom and establish strategic cleaning systems that work best for their specific needs.

One such solution may include the deployment of all-in-one spray and vacuum systems that apply high-pressure mixtures of chemicals and water and, therefore, lower labor costs.

Building managers can also adopt the use of microfiber mops and cloths that allow for greater absorbency and scrubbing capability.

Dual-compartment buckets that have separate basins for clean and soiled water have also proven effective in the battle for clean restrooms.

In the past decade, there has been an increase in the number of touch-free devices that are available to ensure germs are not spread in and out of restrooms.

Modern society is more aware of the dangers of cross-contamination to such a point that one study found that almost 30 percent of people avoid using public restrooms due to the awareness of the presence of germs.

But, another study showed that the use of modern touch-free devices will not only increase the likelihood that guests will use the restroom, touch-free devices also improve public perception of your facility and your business overall.

Health In Your Hands

Touch-free toilets and touch-free seat covers give restroom users peace of mind while in the stall, yet they end up having to touch the stall door upon exit.

After exiting the stall, the restroom guest may be greeted by a touch-free soap dispenser and a touch-free water source to create the ultimate hand washing experience.

The next part of the touch-free experience should include a touch-free hand dryer or touch-free paper towel dispenser.

"The best way that building managers can provide a complete restroom experience for their guests is to install touch-free door systems," Boswell said. "A touch-free door exiting system will complement all of the restroom''s other touch-free devices and provide the strongest amount of user peace of mind that the spread of germs through cross-contamination has been minimized."

With the addition of a touch-free door opening system, your pristinely maintained restroom will further promote proper hand washing practices and force building maintenance crews to pay closer attention to routine cleanliness of the restroom.

Building operators can implement touch-free devices without breaking the bank.

Most touch-free products can be retrofitted in every facility and result in improved worker and guest morale.

"When touch-free products are put in place, the cost of maintenance also decreases, while building occupants become more willing to use the restroom," Boswell said.

Facility managers are on the cusp of a complete touch-free restroom experience, a time that can only create excitement for an industry that is often overlooked.

As more and more touch-free restroom systems become available, the less time our culture will have to worry about the spread of germs, which makes for a bright future for the industry.

Eric Cravey is the director of public relations for AXIA Public Relations where he oversees strategic national public relations and media relations for AXIA''s clients. Cravey comes to AXIA with 18 years'' experience as a writer and public relations counselor. Cravey, a former news reporter and technology columnist for the Jacksonville Business Journal, has won awards in public relations, newspaper reporting and radio news.

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