Car washes are to automobiles what touch-free restroom machines are to restrooms: achieving sparkling results with minimal fuss, in a fraction of the time.

Add multi-tasking features such as dry and wet vacuuming, spot cleaning and interim carpet care, and the result is a piece of equipment that’s increasingly being adopted by building service contractors who want to stay competitive and profitable.

“We stay on the cutting edge of the latest cleaning technology, and transfer that knowledge to franchise owners,” says Peter Sheldon, vice president of operations for Boca Raton, Fla.-based Coverall Cleaning Concepts. “When you tell a BSC you can cut their time by a third, that’s a big deal to them. It’s all about the profitability of running the business.”

Time Saver

Restroom cleaning machines can help BSCs service high-traffic facilities with a large number of restrooms in a short amount of time.

Gus Craig, general manager of BG Service Solutions, Columbia, Mo., has a large workforce servicing the greater Jefferson City, Ohio, area. Recently, they’ve been using four new, electric-powered, high-pressure, recovery-tank restroom machines to service schools, Class-A office buildings and industrial and governmental facilities.

“One government building has over 3,000 employees and 3,000 visitors daily,” Craig says. “The restrooms get hammered. That’s high-volume day and night restroom cleaning. We wanted a pressure-washing system with a large tank so they’re not refilling it every five minutes, that also would do a good job in corners and behind stools — which are hard to reach with mops or flat systems.”

He says preparing a unit takes less than 10 minutes. To clean a restroom the technician puts the chemical down, lets it dwell five to seven minutes, hoses the dried chemical into the drain, and then vacuums up any leftover moisture or residue. The tank can be conveniently refilled from any faucet, and when the recovery tank fills, it can be drained into a toilet or floor drain in the janitor’s closets.

“It has a 50- to 75-foot hose as well, so it can maneuver quite well without bumping into everything,” Craig says. “You can still yank cords from walls, but for the most part it’s easy to maintain and good value for your money. You still have to clean and sanitize, but you scrub and deep clean less often, because the machine does that each day.“

Georgetown, Ky.-based Eurest Services began using no-touch restroom machines at a 1,500-employee office and industrial facility where the restrooms were the biggest complaint. But now, the client is thrilled with how clean and fresh-smelling the restrooms are.

“Using this product, being able to get under the bowl where a lot of the odor lingers and spray that down, helped us to solve that problem for the client,” says Russ Latham, national manager, Eurest’s operations division.

Latham says they selected a low-pressure machine and were also looking for a maneuverable size for portability. They needed employees of any size to be able to transport it to another facility across town on occasion. The unit also has the ability to dispense up to four products at once: glass cleaner, disinfectant, neutral cleaner for floors and tubs and tile cleaner for sinks, toilets and urinals.

“Just turn the knob for the appropriate cleaner,” says Latham. “It allows us to not carry all those bottles around, and also saves on chemical costs.”

Latham is experiencing a 25 percent time savings from not having cleaners walk back and forth to change mop water and replenish chemicals. And, thanks to automated portioning, he is saving on water and chemicals.

Sanitary and versatile

In addition to restrooms, these cleaning machines are useful in healthcare facilities, operating rooms, isolation areas, patient rooms, assisted living facilities, daycares and fitness centers.

“Historically we’ve sprayed and killed germs,” says Sheldon, “and used ineffective equipment to move it around.”

If germs aren’t removed properly, they will help contaminate the area once the disinfectant dissipates. Sheldon’s machine features a low-pressure applicator, high-pressure floor rinse and wet vac with high efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filtration.

Recently Coverall also employed the system at a school that suffered a MRSA outbreak. Sheldon says the no-touch system allowed them to perform remediation in key areas, including locker rooms.

“It’s a multi-faceted machine that can do many things and be used any place you’d use a wet vac,” he says. “It can extract carpets. Additional attachments for grout cleaning work very well. Wide-area attachments are great for picking up strippers. There is also a dry converter to dry-vacuum carpets.”

Easy Training

Potential drawbacks — including using water that’s too warm, which can create a sauna-like atmosphere; using too much pressure, which can damage grout or fixtures; not wearing proper protective gear and getting splashed or injured; or applying water to areas like paint or drywall that aren’t moisture-friendly — can be prevented through training.

Utilizing training videos and hands-on practice can help ease the process.

“Training takes maybe a half an hour,” says Latham. “It’s very simple to learn. You really can’t screw it up.”

Lauren Summerstone is a freelance writer based in Madison, Wis.