Techniques To Fight Restroom Germs

How should managers handle the issue of cleaning restrooms in an effective and efficient manner?
The minimization of bacteria, viruses and contaminants in a restroom starts even before a building is built. As much as a restroom can be cleaned and maintained efficiently through a systematically planned cleaning program, contamination and cross-contamination in a restroom can be minimized by good planning during the design phase.

Some of the suggestions for designing a facility that minimizes the potential for contamination and cross-contamination from one fixture or person to another may include:

 • Touchless fixtures such as faucets and soap dispenses. As noted earlier, sinks are the most contaminated surface in a restroom — over four times higher than the closest fixture. If a building occupant can avoid touching the sink, the soap dispenser and the faucet, the possibility of cross-contamination is significantly reduced.

 • Touchless dispensers for drying hands. There continues to be debate between the benefits of towel dispensers and self-contained hand dryers. But regardless of the type of hand drying equipment used, priority should be given to touchless technology. If users do not touch a surface, they cannot contaminate a surface, and the bacteria or virus on the surface cannot contaminate them.

 • Good ventilation is essential as restrooms are ideal breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses. Good circulation of air that meets or exceeds building codes for air flow per minute is essential. Not only does good ventilation vacate odors to the exterior of a building, but the movement of fresh air also removes moisture from the facility. And lack of moisture inhibits the growth of certain organisms. The ventilation should be automatic and consistent. It should not depend on the building occupant to turn it on or off.

 • Good drainage on floors will help remove any standing liquids, which can become a breeding ground for bacteria. In addition to removing moisture from floors, the drain traps need to be treated with a broad germicide on a regular basis in order to kill any living bacteria or viruses in the traps.

 • Alternative entryways. Many restrooms, especially in high-use facilities, are designed with door-less entryways so that a customer can walk in without touching any surface. Other restroom entrance doors may have a foot opener on the base of the door so that the customer can exit the restroom without contaminating their hands.

 • Self-flushing and touchless toilet and urinal fixtures. These can minimize cross-contamination, as can the use of toilet seat covers.

 • Light sensors. These turn lights on and off automatically, minimizing the cross-contamination caused by switches. It would be wise to post a sign that automatic light sensors are in use so that people do not get caught in the dark.

The elimination of any surface that is touched will greatly minimize the contamination, cross-contamination and spread of bacteria from within the restroom to other parts of the building. Good planning in the design phase can minimize contamination at the user or customer phase when the restrooms are in use.

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