Female building occupants are spared the sights and smells of the urinal, but those responsible for making this area a symbol of restroom uncleanliness face this problem area on a daily basis, and they know just what lies there.

It's not hard to guess why the urinal is so problematic. Lack of focus, bad aim, apathy — whatever the reason might be, males fail to hit the mark at the urinal all too often. The result is a mess that can impact the look and smell of the entire restroom, and therefore, an entire facility.

The first cleaning mistake that can be made in response to the urinal is to ignore the area for too long. It doesn't take many males to miss for the area to start to stink and the floor to become a mess. That's why urinal mats are placed in many restrooms, as these devices prevent the liquid from pooling up one brick shot at a time.

But beware of the fact that urinal mats can be misused. More often than not, staffs fail to change urinal mats out after the suggested period of use, turning them into a smell, bad-looking floor fixture. Instead, staffs should keep track of how long or how much traffic each mat has received, and be sure to change them out as soon as the limit has been exceeded.

Mats will help maintain cleanliness, but departments must also implement regular cleaning protocols to tackle the floors.

Depending on the type of restroom, either a mop and bucket system or spray-and-vacuum tool should be used to clean around the urinal. In either case, staff should begin maintenance by wetting the floor with water and a bioenzymatic cleaner, which will counteract the odor of the urine. Next, the water must be agitated and then picked up, either with a mop or vacuum.

If the urinal is the most off-putting area of the average restroom, the toilet stall isn't far behind. Everyone knows what goes on in this area, but few want to admit it. That's okay, provided the scene of the crime is covered up well. When it's not, odors and visual uncleanliness have the potential to scare off visitors from ever re-entering.

Unlike the urinal area, much of the focus of the stall goes to the cleanliness of the toilet seat. These always have to be clean. After that, staff would do well to pay more attention to other regions of the toilet. Too often janitorial workers fail to clean well enough up and under the rim of the toilet, which happens to be an area where a lot of odors permeate.

"It's the surfaces that you don't see that cause a lot of the odors," says White.

The outside of the toilet is also cleaned less than it should be. With all these areas (inside, under and outside the toilet), it's easy to see why smells can arise, which is why janitorial workers would be well-advised to clean the toilet every day.

Controlling odors is one reason for frequent cleaning, but cross-contamination is another. Tackle high-touch surfaces daily. For example, the handle of manual flush toilets has to be cleaned and disinfected daily. The same goes for the lever used to unlock and lock the door, as well as the part of the door that comes into contact with hands. The rest the stall, like the partition walls, should be cleaned on a weekly basis.

Where Else

Sinks, toilet and urinal areas produce most of the odors and bacteria in restrooms, much to the consternation of visitors. But that doesn't mean the rest of the floor and ceiling areas get a complete pass. These areas can cause all kinds of smells, too.

Grout lines on floors serve as a sponge of sorts, attracting the dirty water and whatever else has made it to the ground before, during or after the cleaning process. If the floors aren't cleaned properly using the methods mentioned earlier, even the whitest of grout lines can turn a brown or black hue — an unpleasant sight for all.

Then there's the drains. Drain maintenance in restrooms is extremely important because a failure to care for this area can create very unpleasant odors. A poorly maintained drain can prevent the nasty stuff being pushed its way from escaping, and can even cause the sewage from below to come back up. Fortunately, drains aren't hard to maintain. One of the easier ways to prevent drain problems is to keep them wet. This can be accomplished by pouring something as simple as water down the drain. Departments hoping to take that extra step can pour an enzyme cleaner down the drain, which Dell'Aquilla says eats away at grime "like Pac-Man."

Installing a floor drain trap seal can also be beneficial as this tool turns the drain into a one-way valve in which water can go down, but cannot come back up. When it comes to restroom maintenance the biggest issues facilities will face are odors. Fortunately, a restroom that's properly cleaned and maintained will smell and look its best, which in turn will improve the reputation of the entire facility.

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Top Restroom Cleaning Challenges