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Dirty, demoralising & downright dangerous

07 October 2014

Maintaining washrooms is a hazardous, arduous and often soul destroying task but someone has to do it. Trudy Dempsey, business services manager for Monthind Clean, discusses the hazards and hidden hygiene issues that affect washroom operatives and those using public conveniences

Was I shocked to learn that one in five people don’t wash their hands after using the loo? Quite frankly no, but the thought drives me to obsession when it comes to washroom hygiene and cleaning-up after those who use communal washrooms at work or in public.

Something as simple as washing your hands with soap and water shouldn’t be such an issue and if people really thought about the potential hazards and effects, I’m sure many more would do so, especially after using the loo.

I have to believe that the majority of the population don’t treat their bathrooms at home in the same way as they use their work facilities or public toilets. We’ve all witnessed strewn toilet-paper, used sanitary products and wrappings on the floor, urine soaked floors, faeces streaked toilets, or liquid soap leaked across basin tops, and this is what many of us face when using public conveniences.

What the cleaning operatives face

In addition to the most obvious state public washrooms can be found in, our cleaning operatives at Monthind Clean often have to deal with much worse. Body fluids are bad enough but ‘sharps’ such as needles and other drug paraphernalia can be an even more dangerous for operatives to handle, all of whom have to be trained in the handling and disposal of such products, as well as fully trained in bio-hazard procedures.

Vandalism brings another dimension and menace into the mix, from graffiti and strewn toilet paper to basins that have been literally ripped from the walls, toilets smashed and even urine and faeces spread across cubicle walls and floors.

It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it

There’s nothing more pleasant than walking into a washroom that looks spotlessly clean and tidy and smells fresh, and this isn’t difficult to achieve and doesn’t cost the earth. Laundered towels, branded soaps and moisturisers and automatic air-freshener sprays do cost money but what the majority of us are happy to accept is basic hygiene and cleanliness with a bit of TLC thrown in.


Plenty of toilet paper, preferably on a dispenser and not balanced on the toilet lid; some form of liquid soap as this is more hygienic to use than soap bars and facilities to dry our hands. Hand dryers are preferable to roller towels but at the very least paper towels – although these can mean other potential perils such as litter issues, overflowing bins and blocked loos.

Regularly emptied sanitary and nappy bins, and general purpose bins should always be provided, and there are plenty of commercial operations that will supply and manage the content disposal safely and effectively.


Cleaning tips

Not all cleaning operatives are trained in bio-hazard procedures, but there are a number of basic tips cleaning operatives can employ to improve washroom hygiene and reduce the spread of infections and germs.

Using antibacterial cleaning products and sanitisers, (preferably dosage managed as this reduces waste and surface stickiness) is a start but also, separate cleaning clothes for the toilets, basins and other surfaces, and the cleaning cloth disposal should also be off site.

Vandalism and homeless refuge use can be reduced in public conveniences through having manned washrooms or an entry-fee system; at the very least a lockdown can combat some problems but not all.

Education is probably the most relevant of all. Encouraging people to wash their hands after using the toilet and disposing of sanitary products, toilet paper and paper towels in the proper manner will alleviate many issues faced by washroom users and cleaning operatives alike.