Five Signs You Have an Unpleasant Restroom—and How to Fix it
Unpleasant restrooms impact your business according to a study by the Bradley Corporation. This survey found that dirty, smelly, poorly-stocked restrooms do more than gross-out clientele. They indicate that management doesn’t value its employees or customers, or even worse, is too lazy or sloppy to care.
Surprisingly, this kind of dissatisfaction is growing. Some 70% of those surveyed report experiencing unpleasant restroom conditions—an increase of approximately 20% since 2012. And the rise of social media means that photos and comments about those conditions can spread quickly, further damaging reputations and bottom lines.
How do your facility’s restrooms stack up? Check out these common problems and solutions to turn an unpleasant restroom experience into a delightful one.
1. Nasty Odors
Many factors, from clogged toilets to poorly-maintained drains, cause malodors. Perhaps the most offensive smell comes from deodorizer overuse. Not only do these chemicals smell “off,” using too much signals a cover-up of a bigger problem.
Dealing with clogs and accidents immediately solves obvious issues. Odors can also come from incompletely cleaned areas around toilets and urinals. Instruct staff to pay extra attention to these spots. If the restroom smells musty check the drains, light fixtures and ceiling for mold. If found, clean with a bleach solution and brush. Increased ventilation and drying wet surfaces thoroughly after cleaning keeps mold from re-growing.
2. Dirty Grout and Five O’clock Shadow
Some cleaning technologies leave bacteria and dirt behind, causing the restroom to look and smell less than fresh. Traditional mop and bucket systems, for example, do a poor job of fully cleaning tile grout. Mopping using the recommended, figure-eight technique can also splash dirty water on baseboards and walls. This “five o’clock mopping shadow” smells bad and looks worse. The same goes for dingy grout. Both telegraph poor housekeeping standards.
Moving to a no-touch system allows staff to thoroughly clean grout while avoiding five o’clock shadow on baseboards and walls. These systems also inhibit mold growth as they leave surfaces fully dry.
3. Water—or Worse—on Surfaces
Seeing a puddle in a public restroom triggers an immediate reaction. Avoid this situation by cleaning and drying all spills and accidents immediately. Ask customers to alert management to problems not caught by the regular restroom check schedule.
Some water stains are less overt. Splashes on countertops and mirrors or drips on walls by towel dispensers and dryers aren’t an emergency, but leave unsightly marks after they dry. A squeegee system will keep these areas stain free.
4. Poorly maintained equipment
Guests don’t like out-of-order sinks and toilets or partitions that don’t latch closed. Keep equipment in good working order by making repairs as soon as possible. Instruct cleaning staff to report any broken fixtures immediately.
Remodeling a restroom is expensive. Extend the life and good looks of fixtures and furnishings by adhering to a cleaning schedule. Investing in a system that cleans, sanitizes and dries will help.
5. Lack of supplies, grimy soap dispensers and litter
Running out of toilet paper, towels and soap are more than inconvenient. The make for an unpleasant restroom experience that customers will remember. Be sure to stock supplies at scheduled restroom checks. Instruct staff to check and clean residue-clogged soap dispensers.
Guests often use a paper towel when opening doors. Placing a trash can by the exit will help control litter.
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Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines.
Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.
She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.