Sanitation and Safety

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Best Practices for Restroom Sanitation

According to a Harris Poll survey, 94% of consumers said they would avoid an establishment in the future if they found the restroom to be dirty. Incorporating a comprehensive program supports brand reputation while also helping organizations maintain productivity.

restroom soapProper restroom sanitation requires more than cleaning floors and toilets. It involves having fully stocked soap and towel dispensers, operational hand dryers, and clean sinks and counter areas. A lack of restroom supplies represents one of the most common customer complaints and can lead to a dirty restroom. It pays to invest in, and strategically place, soap and towel dispensers that minimize wasted resources.

The basic components of restrooms include sinks, soap dispensers, and hand dryers or paper towel dispensers.

Restroom hand sinks come in a variety of shapes, configurations and styles. Most are stainless steel, ceramic or porcelain for added durability. In terms of mounting, countertop, deck, semi countertop, undermount or wall versions are available with or without faucets. Some types include built-in back and/or side splashes.

Concrete sinks have also become popular in recent years. These stylish alternatives come in various colors and shapes, including tops, wave, ramps, troughs, vessels and under mount.

Operators can choose between molded or fabricated restroom sinks. The molded type typically features a solid surface, quartz or vitreous china. Fabricated sinks are customizable, including colors and finishes.

Molded solid surface sinks offer continuous trough, flat lavatory deck with integrated bowls, open front basin, rounded front, multi-level, and pedestal and corner styles. The fabricated version comes in continuous trough, individual basin and vessel styles, flat lavatory deck with undermount bowls, open front basin, and multi-level styles.

All-inclusive sink systems incorporate faucets and soap dispensers, and there also are circular models that accommodate three to four people at one time.

When it comes to sizes, heights range from 4 to 34 inches, lengths run between 12 and 29 inches, and widths vary between 11 and 30 inches.

In terms of options, hand sinks are available with built-in soap and paper towel dispensers. Some provide antimicrobial protection designed to help prevent
airborne illnesses.

Soap dispenser categories include liquid, counter and wall mounted, automatic, foam, bulk and manual. Liquid versions can be either countertop or surface mounted with either manual or automatic operation. With vertical or horizontal plastic or stainless-steel tanks, surface mounted dispensers hold 30 to 40 ounces of liquid soap. Countertop types generally feature ABS plastic construction and hold 16 ounces of soap. Countertop-mounted hands-free dispensers have chrome, polished nickel, brushed nickel or polished brass spouts that typically accommodate 1,000 hand washes per 800 ml of soap. Some models offer adjustable time-out durations, line purging, adaptable sensor range and LEED flow-rate options.

Wall-mounted dispensers, the most popular for public restrooms, can accommodate foam or liquid soap, depending on the model. Stainless-steel or plastic tanks that hold between 40 and 50 fluid ounces come in recessed versions that sit flush with the wall. Automatic dispensers are available for foam or liquid soap and can be wall, surface or counter mounted, depending on the type. These battery-operated, touch-free versions are available in a variety of materials, including plastic, zinc, chrome, nickel and brass. Bulk soap dispensers are refillable with liquid or foam, depending on the unit. These also offer a variety of mounting and material options. Foam dispensers are recommended for high-traffic restrooms as they utilize less soap and provide more hand-washing uses per fluid ounce than liquid.

Paper towel dispensers are available in manual, automatic, lever, crank, single, multi or C fold, or combination versions. Constructed of plastic or stainless steel, manual versions are available in wall, surface, recessed or semi-recessed mount types. Automatic models in either plastic or stainless offer hands-free use. Lever types in plastic or stainless steel are typically priced lower but are easy to use and require minimal maintenance. Folded towel receptacles also are offered in plastic and stainless, with wall, surface, countertop or recessed mounting models available. Combination paper towel dispensers/garbage receptacles are stainless steel and offer a number of mounting options.

Hand dryers are environmentally friendly as there is no paper towel waste involved. New models have two-stage drying with an air blast to loosen water droplets and then an airstream that evaporates moisture. The biggest benefit is the cost, which is lower over time since there are no consumables. Newer technology provides faster hand drying with less energy usage.

Purchasing Considerations

There are a number of considerations when purchasing components for commercial restrooms. First, figure out the best layout for efficient use, making sure it complies with codes and regulations.

Coordinating sinks with soap dispensers is key in making sure guests can access both conveniently.

If sustainability is the goal, consider faucets geared toward lower water usage and hand dryers that require less power to run.

For hand sinks, the sizing should be appropriate for the space. The faucet should be coordinated with the sink size. It shouldn’t take up a majority of the sink bowl or be too close to the edge. For high-traffic areas, consider hands-free sinks. Although newer versions have the water flow regenerating the unit’s battery, these will cost more.

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires sink rims and counter surfaces mounted so as not to exceed a 34-inch maximum from the finished floor. The minimum clear floor space should be 30 inches by 48 inches. There needs to be one station that has 30 inches of clear space from left to right. Water supply and drainpipes under lavatories and sinks should be insulated or configured to protect against contact with no sharp or abrasive surfaces. All items in the restroom, including faucets, soap dispensers and hand dryers, must be easily operable with one hand. Mounting heights for faucets, paper towel dispensers, soap dispensers and hand dryers should be no more than 48 inches above the floor. For longer sinks with six or more stations, ADA requires that one station be 11 inches from the edge of the sink to where the fixtures are operable.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Deferring restroom cleaning and maintenance will negatively affect a business’ bottom line. It can drive customers away, cause a business owner to spend more money on costly replacements and become more time-consuming for staff members.

Keeping restrooms clean involves making sure surfaces of soap and towel dispensers, hand dryers and sinks are free of noticeable soils and sanitized. Sink drains should flow freely as well as all faucets.

Once standard operating procedures are in place, it’s important for restaurants to properly train staff to follow the necessary steps for maintaining restroom cleanliness. Turnover is high, especially in the foodservice industry, so training should be conducted on a regular basis.

Set a schedule so staff can keep track of cleaning and sanitizing tasks. Check restrooms throughout the day. A detailed guide for employees should contain information on top to bottom cleaning.

Clean and disinfect surfaces multiple times throughout the day, and restock items like paper towels and hand soap as necessary.

Sanitizing is a different issue than cleaning. Sanitize hand sinks daily. The faucet is the most important part to disinfect as this is where bacteria is more easily transferred.

If the faucet handle is difficult to turn and shut off, this may indicate the washer is worn and needs replacing. If the faucet is shut off and there’s a slow drip, that’s an indication that it may eventually start leaking more. This warrants a service call.

The gooseneck that attaches to the sink is where water sits. Over time, this component can corrode and start leaking. Plastic goosenecks tend to be more durable than the chrome type and won’t corrode like metal, which oxidizes. In either case, there are fittings that connect the pipe to the sink, and these can leak over time and need replacing.

If the faucet’s rubber gaskets are leaking, a service call may be needed to replace these.

Inoperable hand dryers should be looked at by a service technician, while broken soap or towel dispensers most likely will require replacement.