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Washroom cleanliness is possibly the most important factor by which guests judge the overall cleanliness and quality of a facility. This means that if visitors have a bad washroom experience in a restaurant or hotel, the chance of them returning is slim. Regardless of the types of facilities you clean, the appearance and cleanliness of the washrooms speak volumes about your customers’ organisations and your cleaning operation.

To keep washrooms looking their best, make sure your cleaning programme includes these four essential components: a quality multi-surface cleaner, microfibre mops and cloths, odour counteractant or neutraliser and the necessary products and equipment required for proper handwashing.

Multi-surface cleaners

A typical washroom-cleaning product line up usually includes a combination of three products. Some cleaning companies choose to use a glass cleaner, a fixture/countertop cleaner and a floor cleaner. Others might use a glass cleaner, a toilet-bowl cleaner and a fixture/countertop/floor cleaner. When it comes to using any cleaning products, a basic rule should be to use the least amount of cleaning products necessary to meet your specific needs. In most cases, this means reducing the number of chemical cleaning products currently being used to clean your washrooms.

Using many products can take up a lot of time as workers have to switch cleaners and tools between each task. Fewer products also mean easier inventory management, simpler training and fewer product mix-ups.

Often workers who are supposed to be using all three chemicals just choose one of the three to clean an entire washroom. Often if a worker is in a hurry, he or she may pick just one of their regular three, such as the glass cleaner, to clean all surfaces. Glass cleaner only cleans one type of surface well, and that is glass. I have also seen workers use an odour neutraliser to clean all kinds of washroom surfaces. Their reasoning? The product makes the washroom smell nice, therefore, it cleans the washroom. Of course, this is not true.

A multi-surface cleaner minimises the risk of mistakes because it is formulated to work well on all types of surfaces, including countertops, floors, walls, fixtures, glass, PVC and stainless steel, eliminating the need for a variety of products. These products have proven to clean glass without streaking, brighten and whiten grout, deodorise areas, oxidise stainless steel and clean typical soil found in washrooms.

When specifying multi-surface cleaners, it is important to select products that are effective, safe for workers and protect the surfaces being cleaned. Some of these cleaners are based on a combination of surfactants and hydrogen peroxide which helps to increase product performance. The combination provides an oxidising cleaning action that naturally controls odours and reacts with organic soils to lift dirt from surfaces.

Some multi-surface cleaners are packaged as ready to use, while others are packaged as concentrates or ready to dilute and dispense. Generally, products that are ready to use are not as cost-effective as the concentrated products you can dilute for each use, sometimes extending the dilution for low-duty cleaning of surfaces such as glass, mirrors, countertops and stainless steel. Crank up the concentration for heavy-duty cleaning of tile grout and toilet fixtures.

Microfibre cloths and mops

To further decrease the time and effort associated with washroom cleaning, combine multi-surface cleaner with microfibre cloths and mops. According to recent studies, the amount of time it takes to clean washrooms decreases by about 40% when using a combination of microfibre and multi-surface cleaners. Consider the following microfibre facts:

• Microfibre cloths require less water, less chemical and less effort than regular cloths or towels. When less water and cleaner is used, surfaces dry faster, not only keeping washrooms open and available to occupants, but also reducing the risk of slips and falls.

• Lifting a wet standard mop and a bucket of water can be heavy, averaging around 30 pounds. The weight of a microfibre system is only 30 ounces. The physical strain on workers using a microfibre system is considerably less.

A multi-surface cleaner plus microfibre equals a winning combination.

Odour counteractant or neutraliser

It doesn’t matter how well or often a washroom is cleaned – if it has a bad odour, it will appear dirty. That’s where the third washroom-cleaning components – odour counteractants and neutralisers – come in. These products help maintain the impression of a “just cleaned” washroom well after it was cleaned.

In a recent study, JohnsonDiversey researchers surveyed people on their impressions of a washroom cleaned first without an odour counteractant/neutraliser and then with an odour neutraliser. The low-traffic washroom was cleaned thoroughly for two months using the same products and procedures. The first month, no odour counteractant or neutraliser was used. Participants were asked questions related to their impression of the washroom and how clean it appeared. Overall, people gave the washroom good scores.

The second month, the washroom was cleaned the same way with the same products, with the addition of an odour neutraliser, which was mounted on the wall in a timed dispenser. Even though the cleaning product and the cleaning frequencies stayed the same, 60% of the people surveyed noticed a cleaner washroom.

This study proves that people are more affected by what they smell than by what they see. If a washroom is clean and smells good, it will appear that much cleaner.

Proper hand washing products and tools

Finally, washrooms should provide the means for people to wash their hands. While soap and towel dispensers must provide washroom users with an easy to use system to maintain correct hand hygiene, it is important that the dispensers themselves look hygienic and make a good, clean impression. Significantly, a rounded design does not facilitate build up of surface dirt on either soap or towel dispensing systems. Workers should be aware of any build up of surface dirt, as users will be reluctant to use these systems if they appear to be unhygienic.

It is also important that workers make sure soap and paper dispensers are always full and functioning properly. A washroom can appear clean and inviting for a visitor to use, but if the soap or towel dispensers do not work or have not been refilled, the personal hygiene of a user can be affected. To ensure user hygiene is maintained in washrooms, it is important that soap and towel dispensing systems are not only robust, but always refilled.

Allowing people to wash their hands will not only improve personal hygiene but also reduce the amount of germs on door handles and surfaces, making for a more hygienic facility overall.

A well-rounded programme

Business owners and managers not only need to recognise the four parts of a successful washroom-cleaning programme, they should also train front-line cleaning workers to understand the reasons for incorporating multi-surface cleaners, microfibre, odour control and handwashing into washroom cleaning. Workers who realise how a clean washroom affects building occupants and visitors will give employees a sense of empowerment and purpose.

Abhay Desai
Director Marketing-South Asia, Diversey India Pvt Ltd

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