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The smallest room

The state of the toilets strongly affects perceptions of an organisation. Leading suppliers share their thoughts on how to create a welcoming washroom and promote good hygiene, even in a limited space

DR PETER BARRATT
TECHNICAL MANAGER, INITIAL WASHROOM HYGIENE

Providing clean and comfortable washroom facilities for staff or customers is essential. It’s also an important component of your business’ brand, as it’s often a place that shapes visitors’ very important first impressions of an organisation. Facilitating a positive washroom experience is also vital for maintaining employee wellbeing.

Even though your washroom may be the smallest room in your facility, it can have a big impact on visitor experience. Here are our tips for making your washroom as welcoming as possible.

Injecting some colour in a washroom could not only make the environment more visually appealing to visitors, it can deliver benefits in terms of positively influencing their psychology. For example, coloured washroom products are designed to harness the power of colour psychology to encourage improved hygiene habits.

Make sure you are meeting female users’ hygiene needs. Our research found that 54 per cent 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 ensure every cubicle in the female washroom has a sanitary bin. Providing reliable and durable sanitary disposal units also helps prevent blockages in your washroom plumbing and could save you from expensive repairs.

Take action to avoid unpleasant, offputting odours. Scenting products can help to control and minimise the smells 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 airborne bacteria and viruses, including the flu virus, E. coli, salmonella, streptococcus, rhinovirus and hepatitis A.

Washrooms offer the opportunity to improve poor hygiene habits and create an environment that encourages best hygiene practice. For example, washing hands properly after using the toilet significantly helps prevent the spread of germs, bacteria and illness, so equipping your washrooms with enough sinks, soap dispensers and hand dryers (and ensuring they work properly) is important.

Hand sanitisers can form a long-lasting barrier against microbes and provide ongoing protection for several hours after use. If space allows, installing a hand sanitiser dispenser in your washrooms or public areas can encourage a more proactive approach to hand hygiene among visitors.

Finally, bacteria and viruses spread easily from one person to another through indirect contact with contaminated surfaces. Reducing the number of ‘touch points’ within the washroom reduces cross-contamination.


CHRIS WAKEFIELD
VICE PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN MARKETING AND PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT, GOJO INDUSTRIES-EUROPE

Technology is playing an increasingly important part in our lives, so it should come as no surprise that innovative businesses are ensuring the washroom is included in the digital revolution.

The importance of hand hygiene to our wider wellbeing cannot be overstated, yet surveys regularly tell us that not enough people wash their hands properly (or at all) when visiting the washroom. It is vital that people are educated about the benefits of proper hand hygiene practices, and the best suppliers will be able to assist FM managers with appropriate signage and advice on the correct positioning of hand-washing and sanitising solutions.

However, making behaviour change happen is never straightforward and a combination of approaches is required. Along with information campaigns, having the right washroom systems is crucial. No matter what the size of the washroom, the most successful will combine good aesthetics, accessibility and ease of use. Dispensers should be equipped with pleasant and effective, hygienically advanced formulations.

Innovative technology can play a significant role in improving hand hygiene and perceptions of the washroom. People can be reluctant to touch taps, dispensers and dryers if they don’t look clean or are leaking. Touch-free options remove this problem by sensing the presence of hands. In the case of soap dispensers, they are designed to release just the right amount of product every time, reducing mess and waste in the washroom. Touch-free options also have higher hygiene ratings.

But fitting the best systems is not the end of it. Monitoring and maintaining stock levels, and ensuring hand hygiene audits are completed, are essential tasks that can be very time consuming. Once again, technology can make the difference. For example, as part of our holistic approach to preventing the spread of germs, we now offer two mobile apps designed to help reduce maintenance time spent on dispensers and improve hand hygiene performance.

The alert app is a preventative maintenance system that continuously monitors hand hygiene dispensers and provides predictive analytics that lead to productivity improvements. The secure software web portal allows users to customise alerts and alarms that includes data on dispenser usage, estimated refill replacement dates, alarm status and history.

The observation app provides feedback, delivers reports immediately for both hand hygiene and PPE compliance, and saves valuable time. It helps to improve the efficiency of completing hand hygiene audits, delivering targeted reporting to help improve washroom standards. Both apps can be used by FMs to effectively plan stock replacement, staffing allocations and training requirements, all from their phone or tablet.

Even with a limited space, by harnessing the available technology options, FM managers can take great strides in improving perceptions and hygiene standards in the washroom, and ultimately the facility as a whole.

MARK JANKOVICH
CEO, DELPHIS ECO

As consumers, we all have a view on hygiene, especially when we eat out at pubs, restaurants and hotels. Particular areas include the washroom, the tabletop, the floor, and the cleanliness of the crockery and glasses. A clean front of house makes you feel good about the back of house, which is why every washroom should be a welcoming and hygienic environment, no matter how small the space.

New advances mean that washrooms can not only be clean but green. Harmful cleaning chemicals are increasingly coming under scrutiny in the media for the unintentional consequences to health and environment. At the same time, the use of plastic and how it is disposed of is becoming as important as food provenance, increasingly driven by the consumer.

Alongside this, increasingly cleaning operators are looking to communicate best practice in their washrooms even when there is very little space. Some of our own customers use small cards to say that they care passionately about the environment and are proud to present spotless washrooms, which are cleaned using ecologically-friendly, all-natural cleaning products that are less harmful to environment and the public.

CAROLINE STANLEY
HEAD OF MARKETING, UK, KIMBERLY-CLARK PROFESSIONAL

Poor washroom hygiene can expose employees and guests to microbes that can cause sickness. And the new generation of jet air dryers are increasing the risk. Jet air dryers are often depicted as a compact, faster and more hygienic way to dry hands – yet studies have claimed they can increase the bacteria on fingers by up to 42 per cent.

One American study found that nearly 95 per cent of adults do not wash long enough to thoroughly clean the bacteria and viruses from their hands. Another concluded that using a jet air dryer means that hands are more likely to be recontaminated during the drying process. Your hands may actually end up more contaminated than before you washed them.

In a small washroom, the problem is compounded; water droplets that could contain bacteria and viruses are blown into the air, travelling as far as two metres and lingering in the air for up to 15 minutes.

Several studies support the case that single-use paper towels are the most hygienic way to dry hands. One found that using a jet air dryer dispersed 1,300 times more viruses than drying with paper towels. Drying with paper reduces bacteria on fingers by up to 77 per cent, and is recommended by WHO guidelines on hand hygiene in health care. The rubbing process of paper towels physically removes bacteria along with moisture.

In fact, faced with a choice of drying methods, 90 per cent of people showed a behavioural preference for paper towels over jet air dryers in the washroom.

About Sarah OBeirne

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