Never make the mistake of underestimating the power of your public washroom facility!
Often overlooked, under-appreciated and ill-equipped, let’s face it they are usually the last facility that gets a face-lift and the least thought-through. Ironically though, they are often the first and last facility guests will use in your accommodation and yes, they can make or break a guest review.
When updating your public washroom facility, of course hygiene should be a priority and you should consider what products and equipment will result in the best results for your staff, guests, and visitors. Many other factors must also be taken into consideration, including ease-of-use, sanitation, design, technology, green products, odour control and, of course, swag!
But providing a hygienic washroom is easy, you say! Provide a sanitary facility, somewhere to wash and dry hands and some soap… Oh, not so! With ever more choices, things can escalate out of control very quickly.
Bear in mind that most complaints made about a property involve below par standards of hygiene and remember that poorly washed hands spread germs, viruses, and disease from hands to mouth and all around your accommodation. There is great potential for the spread of organisms such as salmonella and E. coli that can even spread into your kitchen and catering facilities.
A high quality, well-designed washroom facility can save you time, money, bad press and save your reputation not to mention give your property an edge over its competitors; particularly if you have also invested in green materials, impressive technologies, or a unique design.
What do you need for a great public washroom facility?
Design… A well designed public washroom provides easy access, ensures privacy, and presents well placed, quality facilities. Mirrors and sinks should also be fitted at a good height and all the facilities should be easy to clean, sanitary and have plenty of waste disposal units. Also, make sure you have excellent ventilation!
Style… Make your mark with unusual design elements! This can be a great talking point and certainly makes a visit to your accommodation restroom a memorable one. Why not create your own unique signature with some of the latest designs, like a one-way mirrored glass urinal, hipster-cool facilities with recycled objects used for sinks and tap wear and amazing modern art murals.
Urinals and toilets… Think about sustainability and saving water. Consider using a water-saving device in each toilet cistern to reduce water usage during each flush and infra-red, waterless, or controlled flush in your urinals.
Environmental initiatives… Make sure your restrooms are as environmentally friendly as possible and consider using recycled grey water from sinks as it can be treated and then used to flush toilets. Install aerators on taps and showerheads to reduce water consumption while still maintaining good pressure.
All toilets should be dual flush and cisterns have a smaller capacity requiring less water and taps should also be fitted with sensors to ensure they are not left on.
Use eco-friendly toilet paper, unbleached or bleached but chlorine-free and paper products made with recycled and biodegradable materials. Paper dispensers, rather than traditional toilet rolls, can also reduce consumption and save money.
Water conservation vs hygiene… taking a harder look at your toilets’ flushing mechanism is also worthwhile in terms of hygiene and environmental health but high pressure flushes might waste water and this is a huge concern particularly for more rural properties that rely on tank water.
Hand hygiene… Cleanliness is next to godliness! Basic hand washing is vital for the health and wellbeing of all. Thorough handwashing consists of washing with soap and water, followed by careful hand drying.
What soaps? Antibacterial washes are essential in high-risk environments such as hospitals and cruise ships and planes, they are not necessary in daily life but you must always ensure that you supply a good quality liquid hand soap in a sealed dispenser. A dispenser that minimises contact, is easy to clean and refill.
Think environment and opt for soaps that contain natural ingredients, organic extracts, and are packaged in biodegradable or recyclable material.
The age-old hand drying argument… Hand dryer or paper towel dispenser? Hand dryers are one way for you to be more environmentally friendly by eliminating the need for paper. They may also reduce queuing as newer, dryer technology has reduced hand drying to less than five seconds. These high-speed and hands-free options have become very popular throughout the industry and they are very effective.
However, a variety of studies have shown that hand dryers may not be as effective as first thought. Indeed, recent Australian research states that that it is more hygienic to dry your hands using paper towels than electric air dryers, according to a QUT-led study.
Dr Cunrui (Ray) Huang’s research looked at the hygienic effectiveness of different hand drying methods in a bid to discover the best way to remove bacteria after washing your hands.
“What I found was that from a hygiene viewpoint, paper towels are superior to electric air dryers,” he said.
Dr Huang reviewed 12 studies that evaluated the drying efficiency and removal of bacteria when using paper towels, cloth towels, hot air dryers and new jet air systems.
“A hand dryer takes 30 seconds longer to achieve about the same dryness as a towel. This is important because most people spend less than 20 seconds drying their hands,” Dr Huang said.
Previous studies have shown that hand dryers can also be contaminated by bacteria in the outlet nozzle and the heat from the dryer is the perfect temperature to encourage their growth plus bacteria can spread into the atmosphere.
Dr Huang added: “For centuries, hand washing has been considered the most important measure to reduce the burden of health care associated infections and the proper drying of hands is an essential component of effective hand hygiene procedures.
“Hand-drying effectiveness includes the speed of drying, degree of dryness, effective removal of bacteria and prevention of cross-contamination.”
On this basis, drying hands thoroughly with single-use, disposable paper towel seems to be the preferred method of hand drying in terms of hand hygiene
Technology… If your budget will spread far enough, consider the latest in hands-free technologies, the cornerstone of five-star public washrooms. The latest products to incorporate this technology include toilets, taps, hand dryers, soap dispensers and doors. Not only are they more convenient to use, they are infinitely more hygienic and far easier to clean.
Sanitation… A range of toilet hygiene products for public washrooms are on the market. From disposable toilet seat protectors, to antibacterial seat sprays, wipes, and cleaners; you can install dispensers in each cubicle to encourage good hygiene. These sanitisers also help protect the plumbing from lime scale and long-term wear.
Also, consider state-of-the-art sanitary bins and units because they are automatic and have vapour sprays installed that disinfect and help eliminate bad odours. This is the type of technology that goes a long way towards upgrading your facility.
Odour control… Silent air fresheners with motion-sensitive systems are energy efficient as well as beneficial to guests. These should all be researched prior to installation to ensure their effectiveness as many are just temporary solutions. Proper air ventilation is crucial, if your facility has no windows a high-powered extractor fan might be exactly what you need.
Vending machines… Provide appropriate vending machines in your facility as not only a way to offer a good service but an extra source of income.
Door handles… An overlooked hot spot for germs, here it is vital to consider hands-free! Automatic doors, swing doors, motion sensitive locks, are all valid options for public rest-rooms.
Signage… Etiquette reminders are a simple yet effective way to foster a hygienic space. Reminding visitors not to throw paper towels on the floor, to turn off taps, wipe down seats with sanitiser after use, are all ways to improve washroom cleanliness and make life easier for cleaning staff.
Baby-changing facilities… Particularly neglected in men’s toilets, these facilities are often absent but if your property caters to families they are a vital inclusion. Parents are far more likely to revisit accommodation where they feel welcomed and installing basic baby-changing solutions is a simple way to show a higher level of care and boost your service. Hygienic nappy bins, changing tables and even vending machines that offer infant-related essentials would make impressive additions to any public washroom.
Cleaning… Minimise health risks by providing a regular and consistent public washroom cleaning service and upholding a consistently good standard of service. Use a tried-and-tested cleaning system and colour-coded cleaning cloths, the tools you use for public restrooms should not be used anywhere else in your property. Steam cleaning is also a very effective way to confidently sanitise your facilities.
Finally, your people… Remember that all hospitality staff should set a good example by following a good hand hygiene regime and maintaining good personal hygiene – thorough hand washing procedures should be practiced and gloves used where required.
Your guests will always be impressed by a hygienic, well-thought-out public washroom facility; families love good baby-changing amenities, and everyone appreciates hands-free technology, consistent cleaning maintenance, effective ventilation, and air-freshening. These are all ways for you to show guests how much you care about the quality of service you provide and an investment in your restroom is a good way to combat negative reviews and encourage repeat visits.