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Can washrooms make you sick?

08 September 2020

With celebrities as Gloria Gaynor, Maria Carey and Selena Gomez highlighting the importance of handwashing this year, hand hygiene has never been so high profile. 

Unfortunately, though the number of people doing their best to prevent the spread of infection may have increased, some features of the washroom may be actively working against them.

Soap dispensers
Research shows that one in four refillable bulk soap dispensers is contaminated with unsafe levels of bacteria, leaving hands with up to 25 times more germs after washing than before.

Bulk soap is poured from large containers into an open reservoir dispenser. When the lid of the reservoir is opened, washroom germs can contaminate the soap. The threat that bulk fill soap poses to health has even been recognised by the World Health Organization, which has issued guidelines against the practice.

Sealed soap systems, in contrast, offer many advantages, especially when it comes to health outcomes. Refills that are factory sealed mean that the soap formulation inside is never exposed to the environment, so cross contamination from the air or other sources is prevented. 

Door handles
Those who successfully navigate the soap challenge still have one more hurdle to clear before they exit the washroom with clean hands – the door. 

A study of public restrooms showed that 93% of the door handles leading outside the washroom were contaminated with bacteria that are potentially pathogenic.  Given that 25% of people using a washroom don’t wash their hands at all5, and even those that do may still have bacteria on their hands, thanks to poor technique or contaminated soap, this is hardly a surprise.

Many end users are aware that door handles are a hot spot for potential pathogens, and go to great lengths to avoid touching them, which commonly results in tissue paper and paper towels being used to open the door, then discarded, leaving an unsightly mess.

Placing a PURELL hand sanitiser dispenser by the washroom exit door on the handle side, typically triggers hand hygiene behaviour, preventing the transmission of bacteria from door handles.

For more ways to prevent infections by providing safe and sanitary washrooms, call +44(0)1908 588444, email infouk@GOJO.com or visit www.GOJO.com.