Making a big impression

27 February 2020

Businesses are judged on the cleanliness of their washroom, but unseen factors are just as important as eliminating visible dirt. Dominic Ponniah, CEO at Cleanology, explains how to ensure that the smallest room makes a big impression.

It may or may not be the ‘smallest room’ in the building, but the washroom is used by everyone. For most companies, the washroom is the one room in the building that all staff and visitors use. And it is the one facility that many organisations are judged on, especially restaurants. What can cleaning firms do to ensure that washrooms are as clean and hygienic as possible, and that they make a good impression?

Few issues in commercial and institutional buildings provoke as much debate as washroom hygiene. When dealing with clients, we have noticed increased concerns about cleanliness which, in turn, have led to greater scrutiny of washrooms. Managers may make more regular checks or expect evidence of higher standards.

Regardless of the client, the major challenges in the washroom can be categorised into two groups: the 'seen' and the 'unseen'. Ensuring your washroom looks pristine throughout the day is crucial, but just as important are the germs that linger out of sight.

Most washrooms are only cleaned once a day, so having a full-time, daytime housekeeper can help to maintain presentation, especially in high-profile and high-traffic areas.

Providing the right products also has a large impact. As hygiene demands increase year-on-year, a first step for many cleaning managers is to reassess their approach to washroom products. They want to feel confident that they are specifying the best products for the job and giving staff the best chance to do a good job.

Everyone has their go-to products, but it’s worth taking a look at the market to see what’s on offer. At Cleanology, for example, we are committed to chemical-free cleaning wherever possible. However, we also follow continuous improvement monitoring to meet the requirements of our environmental management accreditation. We noticed that we were using large quantities of cleaning solutions and, as a result, generating waste in the form of plastic bottles. We developed our own portion-controlled sachets, and now save 16,092 litres of cleaning solution and 21,600 plastic bottles a year.

The 'unseen' challenges

The 'unseen' challenges are germs. These can be found in the unlikeliest of places – especially around electric hand dryers. Moisture left after only partially drying your hands with an electric dryer makes the spread of bacteria more likely. Hands are occasionally not cleaned as well as they might be, and the air blows these droplets from hands to wall panels, taps, door handles and every other washroom surface, where they will then be touched by others.
Rubbing your hands together while drying them may release more bacteria from the surface of the skin after washing. For this reason, electronic – both ultra-rapid and conventional warm-air – dryers are one of my least favourite washroom facilities. Sometimes, I think using a hand dryer after washing your hands is so unhygienic it might be better to not wash at all. 

I would recommend paper hand towels every time. Although paper has an environmental cost, much of the wood used to make the paper now comes from sustainable commercial forests, so the impact of paper towels has become minimal. And, unlike an electric hand dryer which will take thousands of years to degrade, towels are either recyclable or quickly biodegradable. 

Another plus point for paper towels is environmental sustainability. The electricity used for a hand dryer clocks up CO2 emissions and running costs for the client. Also often overlooked by clients is the issue of productivity: electric dryers may decrease overall productivity because only one person can use a hand dryer at any one time whereas paper towels can be taken by several people. 

Regardless of washroom products, the best way to ensure good washroom hygiene is through regular maintenance. Ideally, washrooms should be serviced intermittently during the day, but certainly no less than once a day, and always allow plenty of time, to ensure that high standards are kept or exceeded.

We encourage clients to put preventative planned maintenance (PPM) in place periodically – certainly not less than once a year but, ideally, quarterly. In terms of what the future holds, technology will definitely play a role both in terms of slicker, more efficient and more environment-friendly equipment. It will also improve reporting and real-time information, so your super-clean, super-efficient hand-drying product will never run out before the refilling of paper.