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The impact of COVID-19 on washroom hygiene

22 April 2021

The coronavirus pandemic will undoubtably have a long-lasting impact on consumer’s perception of health, wellbeing and hygiene. Managing consumer perceptions of cleanliness and hygiene in all premises is key to restoring and maintaining confidence for employees and customers across all sectors.

WORKPLACE HYGIENE specialist Kimberly-Clark Professional recently commissioned Harris Interactive to discover how people really felt about returning to away from home locations and using public facilities again.

While many premises and venues remain closed, public washrooms remain open. Demonstrating that a great deal needs to be done to improve facilities, the survey showed that confidence with the levels of cleanliness and hygiene in public washrooms in general was alarmingly low, at only 7%.‬‬‬‬‬

According to Olena Neznal, vice president at Kimberly-Clark Professional EMEA, tThe survey also found that 80% of people are now more aware of hygiene practices when outside the home, and that three out of four people in the UK do not feel safe going back to the workplace. Neznal noted:  "Considering safety, 86% said they would avoid a location if they didn’‬t think it was COVID-secure.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬
"The survey looked at various sectors including offices, airports, hotels, education locations, and dine-in restaurants, cafés and pubs. Across all sectors, the most important confidence factors highlighted were cleaning and hygiene related, with 62% saying that seeing cleaning in action is important; and 58% wanting cleaning and disinfecting procedures communicated clearly.

"This clearly highlights how important cleaning and hygiene has become in consumer’s minds."
In each sector, washroom hygiene was a cause for concern, and four out of five people expressed dissatisfaction with the condition of washrooms out of the home. When asked ‘‬what are the most important areas to improve hygiene in an office building’, 89% said the washroom was a key area where businesses can do more, while only 35% said they would feel safe in a public washroom.

Meanwhile 76% of respondents said that seeing the washroom is clean was the top factor when considering if a public washroom was safe to return to.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Towards touchless technologies
With safety in mind, the survey asked which facilities people would prefer to see in washrooms. In every sector, hand sanitiser and anti-bacterial soap were among the highest priorities. In public washrooms, 73% of respondents wanted touchless taps, followed by 60% wanting touchless automatic doors. 
The focus on touchless technologies highlighted varying levels of concern around germ hotspots. When away from home 70% were worried about touching the railings on public transport, while 67% were concerned about opening doors or touching lift buttons. Unsurprisingly, as there has been a significant shift towards contactless payments, 65% were worried about using cash machines and 64% in handling money.

Tackling germ hot spots
Throughout premises, identifying and tackling germ hotspots is a top priority, and the guidance from the World Health Organization is to use a two-step clean and disinfect process, to routinely clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces such as door handles and sink fittings.

Science indicates why these surfaces need daily hygiene protocols in addition to good hand hygiene standards in facilities.
Objects that are touched by lots of people throughout the day should be cleaned and disinfected frequently in order to break the chain of germ transmission, and facilities managers are needing to rethink what, how and how often they clean, to keep people safe. Understanding the difference between cleaning, sanitising and disinfecting enables facilities to manage hygiene more effectively and prioritise frequently touched surfaces.
Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and other impurities from surfaces or objects by using detergent (or soap and water) to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection. Sanitising lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection.
Meanwhile, disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects by using chemicals. This does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
“‬No matter which surface areas they come into contact with throughout the day, give your employees, visitors, patients and customers greater peace of mind by providing proven cleaning and disinfecting solutions to help break the chain of germ transmission,” added Neznal. “‬In these extraordinary times, creating exceptional workplaces includes doing everything you can to ensure that we all use proper hand hygiene protocols and that shared surfaces are clean and hygienic.”‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Reaching for a safe and portable wiping solution

To improve hygiene and reduce contamination throughout premises, the fully enclosed WypAll Reach Centrefeed System, from Kimberly-Clark Professional, is designed to deliver an effective spray and wipe solution for cleaning & disinfecting surfaces. It is said to be suitable for dealing with spillages and mopping up in food areas. In addition, it offers a system for sanitising stations, enabling self-service when people need to clean a surface.
The small dispenser protects the wiping paper, providing a safer alternative to traditional loose centrefeed blue rolls, where multiple users can handle a roll up to 70 times before it is finished. The portable system has been designed to look professional in any facility and is supplied with a bracket for wall mounting – allowing for the most convenient and flexible usage. By using a controlled, single-sheet dispensing system, it reduces paper consumption and cuts paper waste by over 20%. 
“‬Visible and efficient cleaning and disinfecting reassures staff and customers alike,” said Kimberly-Clark Professional EMEA senior brand manager, WypAll, Ed Borrini.‬‬‬‬‬
“All of the products in our WypAll range are designed for a specific task, giving users the confidence that the product will perform every time. The WypAll Reach Centrefeed System is convenient, portable and always at hand. It has been designed to look good and perform brilliantly, improving hygiene, and reducing paper usage and waste – so therefore saving money, while also contributing a positive environmental sustainability gain.”‬‬

360˚ hygiene & protection programme
To help businesses restore confidence, Kimberly-Clark Professional has introduced the 360˚ hygiene & protection programme, which offers specific premises support through considering need areas, and tools to assess their premises and identify germ hotspots. 

The next step is implementing cleaning and disinfecting protocols and introducing the correct hand hygiene and surface wiping solutions. Finally, Kimberly-Clark Professional promotes hygienic workplace practices by providing communication tools to help create awareness, which is a vital and important part of making people feel safe. 
A free, no obligation virtual hygiene walk is available to book through the company's microsite https://home.kcprofessional.com/UK_PR_TTNS_0920 – A Kimberly-Clark Professional representative can offer expert guidance and advice on the right product solutions to tackle key hygiene hotspots. In-depth workplace hygiene guides are also available, with a free communication toolkit to download. https://home.kcprofessional.com/UK_PR_Guide_1220
“‬Reassuring customers and employees with visible hygiene actions has never been more important for a business ‬survival,” concluded Neznal. “‬Kimberly-Clark Professional is the expert in workplace hygiene and is championing the need for hygiene and wellbeing to take centre-stage. The results of our survey provide insights into priorities and areas for improvement to make the premises and washrooms of the future, safer.”‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

For more information visit https://home.kcprofessional.com/

Note: The images in this feature were taken pre-COVID-19