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5 Steps to Keeping Bathroom Stalls Graffiti-Free

Graffiti on a bathroom stall; it can be hard to clean

It’s not uncommon for custodial staff to walk into a restroom stall, clean the toilet, wipe the stall down, and then move on to the next one without completely going inside and closing the door behind them.

Even if your best custodial workers are performing their assigned tasks as they have been trained to do, cleaning a restroom stall to the fullest may require a few extra steps.

View the stall from the users’ point of view

If you’re pushing your staff to take their restroom cleaning to the next level, consider asking them to look at each stall from the customer or user perspective while they are in there cleaning. By doing so, they may notice scribbles—also known as latrinalia or graffiti—on the backside of the stall door.

Incorporate graffiti removal into your daily cleaning routine

Graffiti on walls promotes more graffiti. If it isn’t removed daily, it can get out of control quickly. Don’t make routine graffiti removal a project that requires specialized training, tools, and chemistry. Instead, look for simple solutions that can be done daily by the person who routinely services restrooms.

Incorporate products that are safe for small spaces

Products that promise to remove graffiti tend to have a chemistry that could be hazardous to the person applying it in a small space with poor ventilation. Look for products presented in a presaturated wipe rather than an aerosol spray or flip-top bottle that may have health hazards associated with their use.

One of my favorite graffiti prevention hacks is to apply a thin coat of mineral oil on the stalls where people are prone to write with permanent marker or ink. The oil is odorless, clear, and not easily detected by graffiti artists. If someone writes on the oiled surface, a general-purpose cleaner and a microdenier cloth should easily remove it.

Take care by using nonabrasive products

Workers should be discouraged from using abrasive pads or sponges to remove ink or marker. This can permanently damage the painted surface.

Encourage your facility to rope you in on future updates

If your facility is planning to renovate the restrooms, it’s important the plans incorporate cleaning and maintenance for stall surfaces. An internet search for the term “graffiti-proof restroom stalls” will yield several partition products that will make the removal of latrinalia much easier without sacrificing time or using harsh solvents. Prevention is better than a cure when it comes to graffiti.

As my favorite troubadour, Paul Simon, wrote, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls and whispered in the sounds of silence.” I’ll bet Mr. Simon never had to remove latrinalia, or he might have a different perspective on the subject.

J. Darrel Hicks

J. Darrel Hicks

Principle, Darrel Hicks, LLC

J. Darrel Hicks is author of “Infection Prevention for Dummies.” He provides environmental services support for a major metropolitan hospital and is a past president of IEHA, a division of ISSA.

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5 Steps to Keeping Bathroom Stalls Graffiti-Free
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