"I recently went to wash my hands in a restaurant bathroom that was so dirty, I honestly believe that my hands were cleaner before I went in than when I walked out. It made me a little — no, a lot — resistant to ordering food from this place, because I have always believed that a restaurant's bathroom is a pretty good indicator of the cleanliness of the kitchen."

That paragraph, written by a blogger, is accessible to anyone thinking of visiting the restaurant he describes.
After reading the review, would you visit that restaurant? Statistics say you would not. A Cintas Corporation survey conducted by Harris Interactive found that 94 percent of U.S. adults would avoid a business in the future if they encountered dirty restrooms. If they read a description like this to check it out before going, they probably won’t give the restaurant a chance at all.

It’s not just bloggers spreading the word—sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor don’t shy away from discussing restroom cleanliness either. Even Twitter is in on the act, quickly slashing the reputation of restaurants with dirty bathrooms in 140 characters or less.

As tweeter Katalina Malungahu put it, I refuse 2 eat @ a restaurant that has a dirty disgusting restroom even if it's a free meal!! #Sorry #Yuk!!

Restaurants can no longer keep dirty bathroom a secret. In the age of social media, they need to clean up their act or face a loss of business that could prove fatal.

Many are turning to touch-free faucets and toilets to keep their bathrooms looking and smelling clean, and business is picking up for those who sell hands-off bathroom equipment.

“We’re getting a lot of orders,” said Elliott Greenberg, owner of www.TouchFreeConcepts.com. “People are concerned about spreading germs, so they get touch-free faucets, touch-free auto soap dispensers, and automatic flushers.” He’s selling them not only to restaurants, but to hospitals, health clubs, and churches, and other businesses.

Customers are very concerned about germs. They’ve read online reports like this, from WebMD: “there can be plenty of bugs lying in wait in public restrooms, including both familiar and unfamiliar suspects like streptococcus staphylococcus, E. coli and shigella bacteria, hepatitis A virus, the common cold virus, and various sexually transmitted organisms.”

“Growth in our touchless systems is strong double-digit growth,” said Donna Santoro, senior product manager of the washroom solutions global business team for Rubbermaid Commercial Products. “We live in a world that is consumed with hand sanitizers and green living. The consumer is acutely aware of those things that cause the spread of germs and bacteria. And it is all about touching.”