Keeping Campus Restrooms Clean
As seen in The Daily Reveille.
Whether a commuter or an on-campus resident, members of the Louisiana State University community all share a common experience — using public bathrooms. Be it the tight-spaced stalls in Lockett or the marble and vibrant-colored surfaces in the French House, these facilities vary across campus and leave students with pre-approved locations for that quick break from class.
“I try to avoid public bathrooms in general,” said Megan Dugas, biology freshman.
Some may consider public bathrooms one of the worst parts of college life, but more than 200 University employees make the care and cleaning of campus bathrooms a daily focus. Facility Services employs 245 custodians to keep campus buildings tidy.
“They are kind of the hidden person on campus,” said Building Services Assistant Director Kim Gardiner. “But it’s a big business.”
And this “big business” not only includes the 886 men’s stalls, 498 urinals, 975 women’s stalls and 1,668 sinks on campus that Custodial Services cleans, but it also includes a hefty price tag — the University spends $72,000 per year on paper towels, $23,000 on soap and $53,000 on toilet paper.
“It’s the largest of building services,” Gardiner said. “We clean 6 million-plus square feet every day.”
A Day In The Life
Custodians are assigned to work in three shifts throughout the day. The first shift lasts from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the second is from 3:30 p.m. to midnight and the third is from 9 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. The number of custodians who work during each shift varies because traffic in buildings fluctuates throughout the day. Custodians check in at one of 15 custodial stations on campus during shifts and walk to their assigned buildings nearby.
The third late-night shift operates in Middleton Library only, Gardiner said. Each building has multiple closets with cleaning supplies for custodians.
Supervisor James Wilkerson said it’s easy to fall into a daily routine, no matter which building he’s assigned.
First, custodians rinse down the entire bathroom and then close each bathroom for 45 minutes to an hour once a day to deep clean the whole facility. Finally, custodians return to clean off stronger chemicals left from the deep cleaning process.
“Once clean, we spray the walls down with solution to rinse it off,” Wilkerson said.
Black lights are used before and after deep cleans to locate areas needing more attention than others.
“It illuminates bacteria and other things that to the natural eye in a restroom that otherwise looks clean,” Facility Services Manager Charles Manogin said.
Custodians return two or three times a day to make sure bathrooms are clean. They also walk around throughout the day with spray bottles to clean off door handles, paper towel dispensers and walls, which was helpful during the H1N1 scare last year, Gardiner said.
The crew decreases to five people on weekends, Gardiner said.
Facility Services also works to promote a community environment in the workplace. Pictures of custodians line the walls of the Custodial Services building. In the foyer, a map hangs displaying the many nationalities of its employees.
Building Services hold a weekly financial settlement seminar promoting financial literacy for employees.
“The better they are, the better we are,” Gardiner said.
Student relations with custodians are favorable overall, Gardiner said.
“We’re helpful to them and are met with friendly faces and respect,” Manogin said.
Supervisor Andrew Woods said while students mostly keep to themselves, they sometimes say hello in halls. Most students agree that custodians are friendly.
“Custodians far outdo their job in the art and design building,” said landscape architecture graduate student Kyle Loyd. “Not only bathrooms, they have lots to deal with like scraps of wood and other materials.”
Graffiti is not as much of a problem in bathrooms as it is on other areas of campus, Manogin said.
“Not as much as you’d think,” Manogin said. “Some creative artists draw on walls in the Dodson area, but mostly the only thing we get are doodles on desks.”
Best, Worst on Campus
Manogin said he thinks all bathrooms remain clean but some need to be cleaned more often because of frequent use.
“I would like to say they’re all clean,” Manogin said. “But Lockett gets messy due to high usage.”
Custodians agreed the size of restrooms contributes to their cleanliness.
“Allen gets lots of use but stays clean because it’s bigger,” said Custodial Supervisor Warren Lyons.
Many students agree Lockett’s bathrooms are the worst on campus.
“Bathrooms on campus are hit or miss,” said Kathryn Gutentag, history for secondary education sophomore. “Lockett is definitely a miss 99 percent of the time.”
Students often consider the recently renovated bathrooms in the Student Union or in Cox Auditorium the best on campus. Many agree it’s not that bathrooms are unclean, but they look outdated and old.
“The bathrooms are never gross,” said Gia Antoinette, psychology junior. “It’s definitely not a custodial problem.”
Products Used To Clean
Facility Services is making efforts to move toward more environmentally friendly practices.
“We try to be earth friendly,” Gardiner said. “We use green chemicals that never have odors or mask bacteria.”
Microfiber mops and towels are used in four buildings on campus — Cox Auditorium, the Student Health Center, the Energy Coast and Environment building and the Lab school. The tools are more sanitary than regular cleaning mops and towels because people or dirty water never contaminates the microfiber pads, Gardiner said. Microfiber products not only use less water but are also re-usable. Each pad can be laundered and re-used 500 times, Gardiner said.
“The days of the mop and broom are gone,” Gardiner said.
Facility Services hopes to move to using microfiber in all buildings, but it will take time since the products are expensive, Gardiner said.
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