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Comprehensive Restroom Cleaning

When you got a go, the question becomes where do you go and today, consumers are voting with their feet. In the recent “Value of Clean” study by the ISSA, researchers cited multiple studies indicating that up to 79% of the public are turned off by and will avoid or not return to a business with poorly maintained restrooms. Building owners and managers are beginning to realize that it’s good business to maintain restrooms in top condition.

The image of an organization, its future, and the morale of building occupants often centers on the cleanliness of the restrooms. Just think about the last time you were seated in a toilet stall, considering your options, after realizing that there was no toilet paper. Not a pleasant thought.

Poorly maintained restrooms are a health, safety and liability issue for contractors, companies and individuals. Pathogenic microorganisms are easily spread via blood and other bodily fluids that are commonly found in restrooms. This is a serious issue for those using, as well as those cleaning a restroom. Slip, trip and fall accidents, vandalism and illegal activity are more common in restrooms that are poorly designed, maintained and monitored.

A study conducted for a large paper towel and tissue manufacturer found that four out of five respondents were concerned about germs in restrooms. Nearly 30% of Americans avoid using public restrooms for this reason, 40% of users flush with their foot, 20% use a paper towel for protection when opening the door and 60% don’t sit on or touch anything in a public restroom. “People are afraid of catching something.” If restrooms are not properly supplied and cleaned on a regular and frequent basis, they quickly become a breeding ground for bacteria that are offensive and can easily be transferred to hands and other parts of the body.

Odors play a key role and in most cases, and are a direct result of bacterial growth. Odors are a warning sign that people recognize and should heed. It’s a valid and natural response that people can’t avoid. “If a surface is visibly soiled or smells bad, it’s not clean. Use at your own risk.”

Trends in Restroom Design

Architects and Interior Designers at the direction of business owners are up scaling restrooms in an effort to make them an inviting retreat that is alluring and comfortable for users, as well as easier to clean.

Better lighting, larger mirrors and windows, intricate porcelain and glass tile walls and floors, along with natural stone counters and custom sinks and fixtures are changing a once mundane room into a pleasant experience for users in forward thinking companies. Other welcome improvements include: better air circulation and higher quality materials, no touch doors, fixtures and dispensers, self-cleaning anti-microbial and Nano-coatings to protect and prevent bacterial growth, odors and damage to metal, glass, stone and wood surfaces.

Architectural design, construction quality and surface choices have everything to do with the maintainability of restroom surfaces. In the past, during the design and construction of buildings, little thought was given to clean ability and life cycle costs. This is changing as building owners and architects realize that design choices directly impact energy, environmental and other costs throughout the life of the building.

Restroom surfaces should be chosen based on how long they will last, whether they are impervious to moisture, their ability to hide soil and how difficult and costly they are to clean. In a worst case scenario, designers specify materials that actually create cleaning problems and drive up maintenance and replacement costs. Materials such as carpeting, metal, wallpaper, fabrics or wood absorb moisture and provide a medium for bacteria to grow, which results in decay and offensive odors, shortening the useful life of these surfaces. Choosing a tile or grout color, that has little or no ability to hide soil and is difficult to clean, (such as white), drives up cleaning costs.

Common design related problems include not putting a cleaning closet, shelving or water access in or near restrooms, poorly designed dispensers that are difficult and time consuming to open, refill and secure, lack of floor drains or inadequate slope to the floor so water will naturally flow to the drain.

Trends in Restroom Cleaning
Public concern and modern technology is bringing about changes in how professional cleaners maintain restrooms. We are seeing new products and equipment on the market that provide cleaners with an organized approach to restroom cleaning that helps assure a better job is done, in less time and with less effort. This is a win-win situation for everyone. When cleaners have the correct tools, supplies and training along with an effective process and schedule, the result is more likely to be a clean, odor free and well-stocked restroom.

There are a number of new products available to help professional cleaners do a better job of restroom cleaning. Several companies manufacture microfiber clothes and mops, bucketless mopping systems, micro-auto-scrubbers, dry vapor equipment and spray and vacuum systems that improve the cleaning process. Chemical manufacturers offer bio-odor neutralizers, foam, enzyme/bacteria based cleaning products and anti-microbial Nano-coatings that prevent soiling, repel moisture and discourage bacterial growth.

Why We Clean Restrooms Hasn’t Changed
The most common reasons cited for cleaning restrooms are:

  1. Health and sanitation – Everything settles on the floor including moisture and organic matter. This makes the floor an ideal breeding ground for the growth of microorganisms that cause decay, odor and disease.
  2. Safety and accident prevention – Moisture on the floor in a restroom is a common occurrence. Regular cleaning and the use of warning signs and barricades helps reduce moisture related slip and fall hazards.
  3. Appearance – Clean and well-designed restrooms make a positive impression on everyone who uses them, which enhances employee morale and the image of the organization.
  4. Prolong the useful life of the surface – Regular and proper cleaning extends the life cycle of surfaces, fixtures, and dispensers, which reduces maintenance and replacement costs.
  5. Cost control and productivity – Every business and employee needs to be aware of and do their part to control costs and contribute to the profitability and success of the organization.

Restroom Cleaning Procedures
Regular service by trained and properly supervised employees will in most cases result in a clean restroom. Every situation is different, so the best cleaning programs are customized to the exact needs of each location.

Key elements of a successful restroom cleaning program include:

  1. Procedures – Establishing and following efficient cleaning procedures provides workers and supervisors with a process that helps assure that the desired results are achieved in a consistent manner. Frequency of cleaning is one of the main components in any cleaning program. Frequencies range from light cleaning several times a day, (sometimes referred to as spot cleaning or policing), to heavy or deep cleaning once per day or several times per week. To obtain the desired results, cleaning tasks are categorized as daily, periodic and restorative procedures.
  2. Equipment – Employees must have the necessary equipment to do their jobs. This includes such basic items as a mop and pail, a spray bottle, scrub brush, toilet brush, putty knife, razor blade scraper, clean cloths, and in many cases specialized equipment to make the job easier and faster. Examples include a vapor cleaner, a restroom cleaning cart or spray and vac machine, a pressure washer, a wet vacuum, and specialty brushes and squeegee.
  3. Chemicals – Basic chemical are required, these may include, disinfectant, glass cleaner and metal polish. Specialty products such as abrasive cleanser, bowl cleaner, deodorizer and protective topical coatings may be used.
  4. Frequency – How often you clean is as important as how you clean. This can range from a full time restroom monitor who cleans after each use, to once a day cleaning or one or more times per week. The correct frequency is based on the procedures used, the desired results, as well as the condition and level of use a restroom receives. A common frequency for most public or heavy use restrooms is once a day heavy cleaning, with a light/spot cleaning or policing after each heavy use period. (right after break periods and lunch).
  5. Condition of surfaces- Old, heavily worn or abused surfaces require more work and different procedures than new and properly maintained surfaces.
  6. Desired level of cleanliness – How clean do you want the restroom? Is there such a thing as too clean? This is a management decision that needs to be addressed.
  7. Budget and staffing – Adequate funds must be set aside to hire, train, supervise and equip those who will do the work.
  8. Technician doing the work – The person doing the work is the key factor when it comes getting consistent quality service. The attitude, desire and skill of the person doing the work determines the end result. All of the elements outlined above play a role in restroom cleanliness and can make the work faster and easier. However, without a trained and motivated worker you’ll still have a dirty restroom.

Standard Restroom Cleaning Methods
There are many different ways to clean a restroom. Let’s take a look at some of the most common. Keep in mind that surface materials, condition, location, traffic levels and the customer’s expectations will determine which methods are most appropriate in each location.

  • Daily/Routine tasks – These are the basic cleaning duties that are done each day or each time the restroom is serviced and can be full service or spot/policing type tasks, depending on need and use levels. Examples include: sweeping, damp mopping, filling dispensers, graffiti removal, and cleaning and disinfecting fixtures.
  • Periodic tasks- These are tasks that are not done on a daily basis, but are completed on a less frequent schedule, such as once or more a week, monthly, quarterly or annually. Examples include: vent and partition cleaning, edge, baseboard, drain and floor scrubbing.
  • Maintenance vs. restoration- Maintenance procedures are used to maintain a desired level of appearance and cleanliness. Restoration procedures are used less frequently or periodically to deep or heavy clean the restroom in an attempt to restore the surface to a like new condition. Regular maintenance will help avoid or at least delay the use of restorative procedures. Once this is done, the restored surface can again be maintained on a daily or frequent basis with less aggressive cleaning procedures. Restoration procedures normally involve the use of harsh chemicals and are more time consuming and expensive. Examples include: floor stripping, wall, ceiling and light fixture washing and painting.
  • Inspect for Cleanliness – Part of the cleaning and supervision process
    involves inspecting the work to make sure that the desired results are achieved. Procedures outline how the work should be performed, and quality assurance guidelines define the expected results of the cleaning process. Inspections should be performed immediately after each service frequency and based on procedures and quality assurance guidelines. Each worker should inspect his or her own work as the last step to each cleaning procedure. Supervisory inspections may be performed on an hourly, daily, weekly or less frequent schedule. Inspections can involve the use of sight, smell, feel, as well as an ATP meter, UV/black light, and other scientific testing equipment.

No area of a building gets complaints faster than a restroom that is dirty, smelly or out of supplies. Restrooms play an important part in the design and function of every building. It’s a private and intimate area that employees, customers and the public expect to be clean, sanitary and safe. Every person who uses a restroom will inspect the quality of the work.