Not one person on planet Earth wants to encounter a dirty public washroom, yet most people have. A research conducted in several developed countries suggests that over 70% of people have been inside an unhygienic public washroom. What does this tell us about the hygiene of developing countries, then?
People across the Middle East have complained about feeling icky about touching washroom door knobs and wished that everything inside was automated so that they wouldn’t have to lay their hands on germs. In September 2011, the municipality of Abu Dhabi seemed to have heard their woes when they declared that it was mandatory for every facility to have a dedicated member of staff in each establishment monitoring the toilets.
Dubai Municipality has recently started to experiment with smart toilets and has already installed one at Dubai’s Gold Souq. The upgraded washroom facilities are better equipped with a cleaner and odourfree experience for the users. They are also expected to have AC and touch-screen display instructions in Arabic and English languages. These toilets will automatically self clean with water and disinfectants for one whole minute after each use. In an era when everything is smart, why should public washrooms lag behind?
The fact is that public restrooms are thronged by thousands of people every day depending on their location - be it in malls, cinemas or parks. Add to it the larger scare of germs surrounding the public washrooms, it becomes a gargantuan task for building owners to maintain their hygiene.
Public restrooms were and are a hotspot or a breeding ground for bacteria, germs and pathogens. These pathogens (mostly found on skin) can be easily transmitted between individuals if they touch any restroom surface. Studies also reveal that within one hour of cleaning and disinfection, every ounce of a public restrooms are recontaminated with microbes. These factors make it clear enough that the potential for germ transmission in public restrooms will always be high and the concerned authorities will always have to be on their toes to find and implement the latest technologies and best practices to ensure a completely clean washroom round the clock.
However hard the task may seem, it has to be addressed in order to provide a healthy environment for the visitors.
The best practices
1. Train your employees
Your cleaning staff must know exactly what to clean and how to clean it. Teach your workers the science behind disinfecting major surfaces like toilets, faucets, door handles, and floors and the often overlooked areas such as light switches and flush buttons.
2. Create cleaning logs
80% of people who have reported unpleasant restroom experiences complain about odours that arise due to poor cleaning. Many companies now maintain a cleaning log that records the date and time of restroom cleaning and the employee responsible for cleaning. This allows the management to measure washroom hygiene and restocking.
3. Install smart and automated solutions
Touching soap dispensers often invokes the icky factor. And why should it not? About 45% of the bacteria found in restroom surfaces (including soap dispensers) are known to be of fecal origin. To combat this, the installation of automated solutions like self-flushing toilets, motion-sensor faucets and soap dispensers is ideal.
Tips to maintain public restroom hygiene
1. Always pre-clean
Stuff like toilet paper and excrement is obvious to the naked eye. Wipe it away before using your disinfectants.
2. Use powerful disinfectants
Don’t rely on the cheaper product if you are unsure of its quality. Invest heavily on good quality disinfectants.
3. Don’t forget to clean the floors
A recent research on public washroom hygiene suggests that ‘restroom floors breed about 230 bacterial species, while other restroom locations breed only 150 species’. Hence, it becomes imperative to take special care that they are disinfected through and through.
4. Use professional commercial cleaning services
A professional commercial cleaning crew would be well equipped with the latest cleaning solutions that disinfect all nooks and crannies of the public restroom - toilets, sinks, and door handles alike. By hiring professional services specialised in commercial cleaning, UAE business owners can maintain the sanitary condition of their public restrooms.
5. Keep a check on the supplies
The worst experience for a customer is to use a public restroom, only to realise that it has run out of soap or tissue. Keep a check on them.
6. Don’t mask odours
Do not combat odours by perfuming the place. Tap into the source of the odour and eliminate it there. Choose products that are loaded with stable active ingredients, such as hydrogen peroxide-based solutions. These will fight urine odours and stains and with no additional effort to train the cleaning staff.
Learning from Bnbme Holiday Home
“A clean bathroom reflects the quality of your brand. Whether you’re visiting a fine dining restaurant or a major airport, a lot can be perceived by the condition of the bathrooms. General cleanliness aids brand perception and customer satisfaction,” comments Dhaneesh Das, Housekeeping Manager, Bnbmeme Holiday Homes. He further discusses the elaborate washroom cleaning regimen:
Preparing the restroom
Gather all of the necessary cleaning supplies and load them onto your janitorial cart. All mops and rags used in this area should be properly marked to avoid being used in other areas. Make sure the restroom is empty, and then post the appropriate caution/safety sign, like a ‘restroom’s closed’ sign or a hanging ‘closed for cleaning’ sign. Move your janitorial cart into the restroom, or for smaller areas, leave it blocking the entrance to the restroom. Leave the door propped open, so potential users can see that you are in there cleaning. The following instructions are based on the assumption that each restroom will get some sort of care daily. For those restrooms that do not need that kind of upkeep, you can adjust the schedule accordingly.
Daily cleaning procedures
Visually check the appearance of the restroom. Pick up any debris on the floor, around the sink or toilet/urinal areas. Check garbage cans and recycling bins. If they are full or nearly full, remove the trash can liner and replace with a new one. Check soap, toilet paper and paper towel dispensers to make sure they are properly stocked.
Weekly cleaning procedures
Clean and scrub all interior surfaces of toilets/urinals with a toilet bowl cleaner. Wipe down all exterior surfaces, including toilet seats, with a disinfectant. Wipe down and disinfect all surfaces, including door handles, light switches, countertops, partitions and dispensers. Clean all mirrors with a glass cleaner to remove any fingerprints and marks. Use a germicidal/ acidic surface cleanser to wipe down the sinks and faucets and handles. Dust mop, sweep and wet mop the floors, taking care to keep the mops, mop buckets and solutions used as bathroom-only items. Avoid cross-contamination with other areas of the facility at all costs.
Monthly cleaning procedures
Dust all out of the way areas, including the tops of doors, shelves, partitions, dispensers, hand dryers and air vents. Replace all metered aerosol deodorizers and air fresheners. Replace the urinal blocks as necessary, if there are PeePod pad in place, replace these. The PeePod is the ultimate restroom cleaners friend. Not only will it deodorise the restroom, as it continuously cleans the urinal walls, but it also helps to unclog pipes and make sure they can adequately drain at all times. Check to make sure all drains are properly draining. If not use a drain cleaner to remove all clogs.
Remove all trash bags and place in the dumpster. Do not remove the caution/ restroom closed signs until all work is finished and all surfaces, including the floors are completely dry. Rinse out and clean the mop buckets, mops, and rags that were used.
Dhaneesh further explains how automation plays a pivotal role in strategic decision making and monitoring at Bnbme Holiday Homes:
“The automated washroom cleaning system enables us to provide more efficient janitorial services such as the ammonia sensors and people counter that will activate our cleaners only when the toilets are dirty hence reducing unnecessary idling time. It also keeps us informed about major performance indicators as follows:
- The computerised system can also generate usage reports for trend analysis and audits.
- Cloud-based smart management tracks and monitors toilet occupancy
- Customisable threshold limits for individual toilets
- Automatic notifications of foot traffic process
- Smart sensor triggers a work order
- Pre-set user traffic threshold cleaner indicates job done
- System is updated and identifies and activates cleaner."