By Dr Peter Barratt, Technical Manager, Initial Washroom Hygiene
Providing clean and pleasant washroom facilities for staff or customers is essential for businesses. A positive washroom experience plays a crucial role in maintaining employee wellbeing, and even shaping your business’ brand with visitors. There are several considerations for creating the perfect washroom, and letting even one slip can significantly affect the hygiene, ease-of-use and aesthetics of your washrooms.
Whether you’ve just moved to new premises, or you’re looking to improve your existing facilities, below are some helpful tips to help you create the perfect washroom environment.
- All hands on deck
Washing hands properly after using the toilet is vital when it comes to preventing the spread of germs, bacteria and illness, so it’s essential to ensure each washroom is equipped with enough sinks, soap dispensers and hand dryers. This will help encourage every washroom visitor to wash and dry their hands.
Drying hands thoroughly after washing them requires little effort (20 to 30 seconds is ideal) and is a very important step in maintaining good hygiene. It is worth remembering that damp hands spread 1,000 times more bacteria than dry hands.
Applying hand sanitiser after hand washing and drying is another important precaution employees can take at work. Hand sanitisers can form a long-lasting barrier against microbes and can provide ongoing protection for several hours after use. If space allows, then installing a hand sanitiser dispenser in your washrooms or public areas can encourage a more proactive approach to hand hygiene.
Bacteria and viruses spread easily from one person to another through indirect contact with contaminated surfaces. Consequently, reducing the number of ‘touch-points’ within the washroom will help to limit the spread of germs. Initial provides a comprehensive range of no-touch automatic dispensers. No-touch provides a comfortable user experience, as the user does not have to make contact with the products in order to operate them, thereby greatly reducing the risk of cross contamination.
- Add a splash of colour
Injecting some colour in a washroom could not only make the environment more visually appealing to visitors, but can even deliver benefits in terms of positively influencing their psychology. Several studies looking at the concept of colour affecting human behaviour have been conducted, helping to deepen our understanding of the different behavioural responses colour can elicit.
Coloured washroom products, such as Initial’s Signature COLOUR range, are designed to harness the power of colour psychology to provoke improved hygiene habits.
- Sanitary waste disposal
For female washroom users, you will need to provide sanitary waste disposal bins, which should ideally be available in every cubicle. Equipping your washroom with the best sanitary disposal units means you can be assured you are offering female visitors a safe, discreet and hygienic washroom experience.
Sanitary items are one of the main causes of toilet blockages, which can be expensive for facilities managers to remedy. Despite legislation making it mandatory for sanitary waste facilities to be provided in workplace and public washrooms, Initial Washroom Hygiene research found more than half (54%) 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. Over a quarter (27%) said they had ‘no choice’ but to flush in these situations. Providing reliable and durable sanitary disposal units in your facility will help prevent blockages in your washroom and could save you from expensive repairs.
- What’s that smell?
A washroom which smells bad is off-putting for anyone. As people will often make judgements about your business based on the facilities it provides, it’s important to consider your washroom’s aroma. Scenting products can help to control and minimise odours that come from malodour-producing bacteria.
You may want to consider installing air fresheners that automatically dispense fragrance to help neutralise odours and create a pleasant-smelling environment. An air purifier can also help to eradicate any airborne bacteria and viruses including the flu virus, E Coli, Salmonella, Streptococcus, Rhinovirus and Hepatitis A.
- Take the bins out
It may seem like an obvious consideration, but many businesses neglect to provide enough waste bins in the washroom. This can result in people leaving paper towels lying around the sink and on the floor, leading to an untidy and unsightly washroom. It may even result in people flushing paper towels down the toilet, which could result in blockages and costly plumbing bills.
- Cleanliness and Maintenance
Finally, a well-equipped washroom is worth very little if hygiene standards are not maintained. Upholding a fresh and clean environment is vital for employee wellbeing and visitor experience. Surfaces in communal areas should regularly be cleaned, using anti-bacterial wipes and surface sanitisers where possible.
Whilst routine cleaning is important, it can’t always prevent deposits of dirt, dust and grease in hard-to-reach areas. It is therefore recommended that washroom facilities in the workplace are deep cleaned at least twice a year, to prevent the build-up of embedded dirt, grime and resulting microbiological contamination.
These tips will help you to provide the best washroom environment possible; a washroom that not only smells fresh, but is hygienic and aesthetically pleasing too.
At a relatively low cost, businesses have the potential to drive better washroom behaviours. By altering poor hygiene habits and instilling an environment in which best practice can flourish, improvements can be seen in visitors’ health, workplace productivity and morale, as well as having a knock-on effect on reducing employee absenteeism because illnesses are less easily spread. A happy washroom makes for both happy employees and clients, so make sure you’re getting it right.
 D. Patrick, G. Findon, & T. Miller, Residual moisture determines the level of touch-contact associated bacterial transfer following hand washing in Epidemiology & Infection, 119, (3), pp. 319-325 (1997)