Here at React Specialist Cleaning, we caught up this week with a recent roundtable discussion on washroom hygiene hosted by Cleaning Matters. Toilets and washrooms account for up to 70 per cent of the cleaning spend in most buildings. Yet they remain the biggest source of complaints – and the biggest risk of infection. We thought we’d take the opportunity to summarise how important it is to clean and maintain away-from-home washrooms to a high standard.
Washroom hygiene is important for staff and clients
As the roundtable pointed out, the washroom is often described as the ‘front window' of a business. In the age of social media, poor hygiene or dirty washrooms can be instantly shared with potential new visitors by unhappy customers. And in the workplace, workers tend to feel undervalued by a dirty washroom. So, an investment in cleaning is an investment in business growth and staff retention.
But more fundamentally, if washrooms aren’t kept clean and hygienic, there can be further health & safety consequences. Ineffective cleaning and sanitising can lead to an outbreak of highly infectious illnesses such as the norovirus. For businesses in the hospitality sector in particular, this can be business-critical.
Mistakes and challenges for washroom hygiene
Many businesses are getting washroom hygiene wrong. Key areas of concern are choosing the wrong products, and a lack of training for in-house cleaning operatives. This can even sometimes be fatal; figures suggest that 12 people a year die from mixing toilet cleaner incorrectly. Moreover, inappropriate chemical dilution can create slip hazards due to residues on floors, can damage the surface over time, or can undermine the efficacy of products.
Timing and training are often a problem. Cleaning teams are often under pressure to reduce costs, which can impact on the thoroughness of cleaning processes. Poorly trained staff may not give adequate contact time to products, as they clean toilet bowls first. And they may not be familiar with selecting appropriate cleaning products, causing damage to certain surfaces. Indeed, damage in a washroom is often a problem and cleaning staff are usually the first to notice something is wrong. But that can mean that they are unfairly blamed for damage or water leakage, so it’s vital to have good reporting structures in place.
Infection control is a key element in washroom hygiene
Both surface hygiene and hand hygiene can play a considerable role in helping to prevent the transmission of pathogens in washrooms. Key contact points such as door handles and taps are contamination hot spots. A safe environment starts with clear colour coding for cleaning materials used in different areas, to reduce cross-contamination in the washroom. For instance, cloths used to clean toilets should not be used on other surfaces.
The responsibility for infection prevention not only lies with the cleaning team – it's also vital that users of the washroom wash and dry their hands properly. Figures suggest around 40% of people still don’t wash their hands after using the toilet. One option to encourage the practice is using high-quality hand products, as well as touchless dispensers and taps to minimise the number of surfaces people touch. Fragrance can also make a good first impression in a washroom, reflecting the ambience of the place, and further encourage cleanliness.
Developing the washroom of the future
There are a number of encouraging trends in washroom hygiene. Auto-dosing and auto-dispensing of cleaning chemicals will take error out of the process. There is a move towards super-concentrated products to reduce packaging, although this means that enhanced safety procedures are crucial. Companies must undertake risk assessment for in-house cleaning teams, and staff must be trained in COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations), find out more on the HSE website.
The trend is also towards heavier regulation of cleaning, not least to ensure lower environmental impact and higher sustainability. This will bring innovation, although it does mean that some active ingredients will no longer be available. For instance, the Biocidal Product Regulations are already transforming the away-from-home cleaning industry by restricting the use of certain chemicals.
Meanwhile, information technology is being harnessed to improve washroom hygiene. The Internet of Things (IoT) is already helping the cleaning industry to work smarter rather than harder. Software can gather real-time data from washroom sensors to target washrooms which are experiencing particularly heavy traffic or where a dispenser requires refilling. This saves time and increases efficiency, meaning cleaning operatives can add value elsewhere.
Contact the experts for good washroom hygiene
The panel concluded with a call for more recognition for what cleaning operatives do in ensuring washroom hygiene. They not only enhance the success of a business, but support the day-to-day health, safety and wellbeing of clients and staff alike. And that’s where React Specialist Cleaning’s Contract Cleaning Division comes into its own. We provide high-quality cleaning and janitorial services to maintain the safe and clean operation of facilities. From regular cleaning maintenance programmes for offices and commercial property, to hospitals, schools and transport, we’ve got washroom hygiene covered.
You can watch the full round-table discussion online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSCRdO0A6Qs
Contact the team today to find out more about our Contract Cleaning
division and how they deliver washroom hygiene.
Telephone: 01283 550 503
Post by Shaun D. Doak
Shaun is the Managing Director of React Specialist Cleaning. He is deeply committed to making sure that every one of our company’s clients receives the highest possible level of service. An expert in HVAC and commercial and industrial cleaning methodologies, Shaun has extensive experience in the facilities management and renewable services sectors.