Prashant Sule, Consultant & Expert in Cleaning & Hygiene Solutions; Blogger; Writer; Culinary Enthusiast and Host
Bacteria generation and growth in the toilets/washrooms has always been and will always be a concern. Hence, washing hands after using the washroom is a natural process. Why is it then being discussed now, following the Covid-19 scare?
Whether it be corporate offices, educational institutes, public parks or entertainment areas, malls or even your home, washrooms are present everywhere. And it’s not that the necessity of maintaining hygiene in this area has turned up today in the post Covid-19 period… it was always there. However, the current stance of perceiving hygiene, especially in the washrooms, is now in full focus. Bacteria generation and growth in the toilets/washrooms has always been and will always be a concern.
So, what are the steps to be taken to ensure hygiene and stop the spread of any epidemic, current and future, via the washroom?
While it is a given norm that hands need to be washed every time one visits a washroom, there are times when one skips this, possibly due to the need to get back to the activity he or she was doing, maybe due to forgetfulness or because of not having the habit instilled in younger years. What stops us from putting a washroom etiquette sticker or a small poster in all washrooms, including domestic washrooms, behind the doors, indicating the importance of washing hands?
Another reason for not washing hands could be because of non-availability of a sink and/or soap just outside the toilets. Ensuring that there is a washbasin with a liquid soap dispenser, an auto dispenser in commercial areas and a plunger-driven one in domestic washrooms, is extremely important. It is well known that an automatic soap dispenser would be more expensive than a plunger-driven one, but it is high time we decided whether money is important or health is.
Manufacturers of automatic soap dispensers should ensure that these are available across the counter in retail outlets so that smaller commercial organizations and domestic washrooms can be furnished with these.
Washroom door handles and flush plungers are other easy breeding grounds for the bacteria and viruses, contaminating the next user. Here again, auto flush and auto opening doors with infrared sensors is possible. However, these could be expensive. Thus, one should avoid any kind of door handles outside the washroom doors. Door closers should be installed so that doors close on their own. In addition, doors must have a metal plate on the external surface at the bottom so that the door can be kicked open as against being pushed by hand. An instruction sticker should be placed on the external face of the door.
On the inner side of the door next to the door handle, a wet tissue dispenser should be placed and an instruction sticker should be placed showing the user that the tissue is to be used to hold the handle while opening so that no contamination takes place. Of course, a bin will need to be placed for discarding the tissue used. Suppliers of this wet tissue dispenser will provide this as a complete set. Needless to say, the wet tissue will be moistened with disinfectant.
Although not yet in the market, the process of supplying this as a set will soon be available. A few manufacturers have it on their drawing board and since there is hardly any mechanization required, these can be made ready without any rocket science.
Toilet seats would be another area of major concern. Already paper tissue covers are available for using on the toilets. But how many use them? As against them, auto toilet seat dispensers are available in the market, made in India, which can be installed to ensure that the toilet seats are sanitized.
These points refer to what a user should be doing to ensure hygiene in the washrooms… commercial and domestic. However, this would only be possible if the necessary gadgets are made available by the establishments.
And now to focus on the maintenance team. Except for increasing the frequency, very little needs to be done differently from what was being done till today. The refilling of the consumables, soaps, tissues etc should be done more frequently and the vanity counters and the washroom floors need to be swiped and sprayed with disinfectant as against normal phenols and substandard chemicals.