Chalk Arrows

Cleaning and Beyond  

Archuletta says that the restroom cleaning machines have provided “huge benefits,” cutting restroom cleaning times nearly in half over the mop-and-bucket system, which is still used if a machine is down. He determined these savings by having the same employees clean the same restrooms alternating between machine and bucket over the course of multiple days, tracking and documenting the results.  

“We did plenty of research and time standards that found the lavatory machine is always faster when cleaning restrooms, especially compared to hand-cleaning,” he says. “If it’s not, you probably did a lick-and-a-promise clean, which we’ve found is always the case and never acceptable in our program. We also validated that floor grout maintains better with lavatory machines through water collection than with conventional mopping.” 

Archuletta says their program specifies restrooms as requiring health-and-safety cleaning and as such, they can’t be spot cleaned. If short-staffed, other custodial duties can be deferred or alternated, such as classroom floor sweeping or vacuuming, but not the restrooms. This is why Archuletta continues to make “a significant investment” in these machines.

The ability to achieve a true, deeper clean is one of the primary advantages of using restroom cleaning equipment. According to Sawchuk, without such tools, it’s common to inadvertently foul restrooms by spreading soils and pathogens around, rather than actually removing them.

“For example,” he says, “when there is urine around the urinals or toilets and a person is wet-mopping (or worse yet, if they are only damp-mopping) — not changing flat mop heads or rinsing frequently enough, and re-charging in a dual-compartment bucket — they are just moving urine around in the restroom, over the flooring and into the grout, thereby polluting.”

Sawchuk adds that if tile or stone flooring has cracks in it, urine can seep in under the flooring, accumulating over time. This can create an ever-growing pool above the subfloor, becoming a potent source of malodors. 

“By only damp- or-wet-mopping and not flooding, or by not using proper bio-enzymatic cleaners that ‘eat’ the restroom soils, the proper level of clean, healthy and safe isn’t realized, and the malodors continue and likely build,” Sawchuk explains.

There are additional benefits to using restroom cleaning equipment, says Moody. For example, restrooms are out of commission for shorter periods of time. Also, floors that dry faster reduce the risk of slip and falls, making them safer for staff and patrons.

“The use of cleaning equipment also sends the message that management wants to take good care of the staff and the building’s patrons and occupants,” Moody adds. “Such equipment also makes the staff feel more valued.”  

Sawchuk agrees, adding also that the superior results this equipment delivers gives employees greater pride in their work. Additionally, the task itself becomes easier, more ergonomically friendly and more enjoyable since there is less touching and less proximity to urinals and commodes. 

How can those in charge of facility operations determine what kind of equipment might best match their needs? Moody says to evaluate the size of the space, partition configurations, and whether the wall/floor material is waterproof or not (certain styles/types of machines cannot be used on drywall or wooden floors). Still, he believes even small restrooms can benefit from a mini scrubber. 

Sawchuk advises observing and paying attention to the way custodians clean the restrooms. Ask them their biggest challenges and concerns and what they think is needed to achieve better efficiencies and outcomes. Research the technologies and the various options within those technologies, involving key cleaning staff in this effort. 

“Then, select the one machine — or a combination of equipment options — that is best suited to the specific facility or operation, objectives, stakeholders, cash flow, cost of labor, etc. The equipment should produce the best results in terms of return on investment (ROI), payback period, improvements in cleaning results, and so on,” says Sawchuk. “Not every restroom is right for every kind of restroom cleaning equipment, but unless cashflow is an issue, most of the equipment can be considered.” 


PAMELA MILLS-SENN is a freelance writer from Long Beach, California. 

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Restroom Cleaning Equipment Boosts Quality, Efficiency