Touch-free Restroom: Auto Flush Urinals and Hands-Free Doors
Janitorial supply distributors are encouraging their customers to install as many touch-free fixtures in their restrooms in an effort to curb cross-contamination. This article discusses the beginning (auto flush urinals and toilets) and the end (hands-free doors).
Auto Flushers And Waterless Urinals
Poor flushing habits and an interest in saving water are driving the installation of auto flush urinals and waterless urinals.
Though waterless urinals save water and money, and reduce the amount of moisture in a restroom, Turner and Davis admit they aren’t gaining in popularity like one might think. There is the perception that they are dirty and expensive to install. Waterless urinals also present some cleaning challenges, which customers dislike, says Louie Davis Jr., senior territory manager at Central Paper Co. of Birmingham, Ala.
An option Central Paper often specs is a flush valve that controls urinal flushing. The valve is key operated and only maintenance personnel have the key. When these devices are put in place, Davis recommends placing printed materials above the urinal explaining that the user no longer needs to flush.
“You put in a special enzyme with disinfectants and deodorizers in it, and the liquid acts like a blanket to keep odors at bay,” he says. “You’re essentially converting a traditional urinal into a waterless one for much less money.”
Buildings can also realize a $300 to $600 savings in water costs per year per urinal when these devices are used.
Auto flushers on toilets accomplish the same thing and keep odors down by making sure toilets are flushed every time they are used.
“People just don’t flush and I think a large part of that is people don’t want to touch the flush handles,” Davis says. “Flush valves can save up to 70 percent on water costs, so you can have a payback on the investment in as little as three months.”
Entrances are the final hurdles to the completely touchless restroom.
Customers use the restroom and the toilet flushes itself. Soap drops into their hands with a slight wave in front of a sensor; the faucet sprays water onto their hands and shuts off automatically. They dry their hands without touching anything. And then they have to leave — and touch a dirty door handle.
Some facilities utilize an “S”-shaped entrance that eliminates doors. Otherwise, there are a few basic hands-free door systems available that while they may not save money, are fairly inexpensive and customers will appreciate that the restroom has them in place.
Automatic door openers have a sensor that opens the door automatically when patrons wave their hands in front of it. Replacement door handles, which automatically provide sanitary sleeves after each use, offer another alternative. A third option mounts an aerosol dispenser above the door handle that sprays disinfecting mist on the handle at set intervals. A final alternative is a small tissue dispenser that is mounted on or near doors. Users grab a tissue to use to touch the door handle. A key to this option is placing a waste receptacle near the door either on the inside or outside of the restroom.
Ronnie Garrett is a freelance writer based in Fort Atkinson, Wis. She is a frequent contributor to Sanitary Maintenance.