Keeping your public washroom pristine

Keeping your public washroom pristine

by Jamie Woodhall, UK Technical & Innovation Manager, Initial Washroom Hygiene

Having access to clean, hygienic toilets wherever you are may seem like a basic request in the UK, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult. Public toilets have existed on our High Streets for more than 150 years, but their provision isn’t enshrined in law. We’ve seen a steep decline in the number of public washrooms maintained in the last decade. Approximately 40% less than in 2010, closing at a rate of one a week.

The ‘Use Our Loos’ campaign from The British Toilet Association is looking to address this. Launched last year, the project encourages local businesses to let people know that they can use their toilets free of charge or custom. This will benefit businesses in terms of increased footfall and a stronger connection with locals, while residents themselves should feel comforted that more public toilets are accessible in their area.

While ‘unlocking the loos’ within a community will go a long way to ensure greater access to toilets, it’s important for those businesses who do sign up to this community scheme to ensure their washrooms remain hygienic and germ-free even with increased demand.

First impressions count

Your washroom may be the smallest room in your facility, but it’s a vital component of your business’ brand, and it often shapes visitors’ first impressions. If your business is opening its washroom doors to the public, this becomes even more important.

Increased footfall to the washroom area means the levels of bacteria and therefore the risk of germs being passed from person to person can increase, so intensifying the regularity of daily cleaning procedures is imperative.

While daily cleaning and the effective removal of surface dirt and grime is an essential part of maintaining a clean washroom, you may also want to consider drafting in the help of a specialist cleaning service to carry out a deep clean a few times a year. We’d recommend doing this when your public toilet is likely to see lower footfall – so it is probably best to avoid school or public holidays.

During these deep cleans, the toilets, urinals, basins, floors, walls and other fixtures within the washroom are thoroughly cleaned, to remove odour causing bacteria from the washroom.  If required, the grouting and sealant may also be renewed and primary pipe work and urinal traps cleared of any obstructions and uric salt deposits, which can reduce the risk of unsightly and potentially costly blockages.

Promoting good hand hygiene

Washrooms offer the perfect opportunity to create an environment that encourages best hygiene practice. With 80% of viruses and most bacteria transmissible by touch, washing hands properly after using the toilet will help prevent the spread of bacteria and therefore diseases such as Norovirus and E.coli.

Before opening your washroom to the public, make sure it’s equipped with enough sinks, soap dispensers and hand dryers – and that they all work properly. Installing no-touch automatic dispensers can help to reduce the spread of germs by limiting the number of touch points. If space allows, hand sanitisers can provide a ‘belt and braces’ approach after handwashing and drying, and will form a long-lasting barrier against microbes for several hours after use.

A swabbing experiment conducted by Initial Washroom Hygiene found that the level of bacteria present on peoples’ hands decreased by 83% after they were encouraged to wash their hands prior to meals – so if you work in the food and hospitality business, providing the right hand-washing facilities is especially important.

The smell of success

Scenting is an area that is often overlooked, but if your washroom harbours unpleasant smells, this may prevent visitors from returning to your premises. Our study examining the state of air care in public and office washrooms found that 73% of those surveyed said an unpleasant smell in the washroom would negatively affect their perception of a venue.

Take action by using scenting products, which help control and minimise the smells that come from malodour-producing bacteria. Air fresheners that automatically dispense fragrance will help neutralise odours and create a pleasant-smelling environment or air purifiers could be installed to help eradicate any airborne bacteria and viruses.

If you’re opening your facilities to more visitors, air fresheners demonstrate care and concern towards the washroom experience, so it’s well worth considering.

A wasted opportunity

More than half of women in the UK have experienced a situation in which there was no feminine hygiene unit located in the toilet cubicle when they needed one. Even if your washroom lacks space, you should make certain that every female cubicle has a female hygiene unit to ensure the safe and discreet disposal of sanitary items. Not doing so can result in female visitors having no option but to flush their products down the toilet, one of the main contributors to plumbing blockages.

It’s also important to employ a feminine hygiene waste disposal service, so that sanitary waste is discarded in a secure, sensitive and environmentally friendly way. This guarantees that waste is being disposed of in accordance with national health and safety legislation.

Final words

Providing clean and comfortable washroom facilities for staff or customers is essential with the number of public facilities declining. Opening your washroom to the wider community is a noble act, but there is even more pressure to maintain pristine levels of hygiene, every single day. Through regular cleaning, providing the right facilities and ensuring waste is disposed of correctly, facilities managers can ensure their washroom meets the standard of even the most discerning members of the public.


Keeping your public washroom pristine