From negative online reviews to lost customers, many businesses understand the potential impact of a dirty restroom, but a recent poll highlights what contributes to a user’s perception of a dirty restroom. The survey — lead by Cintas Corporation and conducted online by Harris Interactive from July 11-15 among 3,130 adults ages 18 and older — revealed 93 percent of respondents would consider a public restroom as dirty if it had dirty or sticky floors. Respondents also noted that un-flushed toilets (90 percent), odor (89 percent) and overflowing trash cans (88 percent) would also make them perceive a public restroom as dirty.

“Consumers have a choice where they do business, and oftentimes, the difference between a dirty and clean restroom can cause them to take their business elsewhere,” said Dave Mesko, Senior Director of Marketing, Cintas Corporation. “This research helps businesses understand what factors contribute to the perception of a dirty restroom, such as the lack of essential supplies, so they can focus on neglected areas and better meet users’ expectations.”

Survey respondents identified the following restroom issues as contributors to a dirty restroom:
• Paper towels or toilet paper on the floor - 80 percent
• Lack of toilet paper - 67 percent
• Empty soap dispensers - 55 percent
• Water around the sink area - 42 percent
• Old or outdated soap dispensers - 29 percent

In addition, respondents cited broken doors or toilet seats, dim lighting, graffiti, dirty fixtures, soiled toilet seats and water or urine on the floors as contributors to a dirty restroom.

Not surprisingly, women were more sensitive to restroom issues than men, with 96 percent of women citing dirty floors as a contributor to a dirty restroom compared to 90 percent of men. Older people were also more likely to cite issues in the restroom compared to younger people surveyed. For example, 94 percent of adults aged 55 and older indicated that odor contributed to their perception of a dirty restroom, compared to 83 percent of adults aged 18-34.

One of the more surprising findings in the survey was how the presence of children impacted respondents’ answers. Overall, parents seemed more desensitized to restroom issues than their childless counterparts. For example, 71 percent of respondents without children identified the lack of toilet paper as an indicator of a dirty restroom, compared to 59 percent of respondents with children. In addition, 59 percent of respondents without children identified empty soap dispensers as an indicator of a dirty restroom, compared to 46 percent of parents.

“Without a comprehensive restroom maintenance program that includes deep cleaning, protecting against issues such as odor, and maintaining restroom surfaces and dispensers with essential supplies, tools and chemicals, businesses will routinely come up short when it comes to meeting the expectations of its users,” added Mesko. “While each facility has different needs based on traffic flow and types of users, we hope this research will better enable them to define a maintenance program that prevents users from going elsewhere.”