Puddle Jumper: Airport Restroom Cleaning
Travel season is almost here and fasten your seatbelt because it’s going to be busy. Industry trade organization Airlines for America predicts that 27.3 million passengers will travel globally on U.S. airlines during the 2016 Thanksgiving travel period. Break that number down and it amounts to 2.27 million passengers passing through the country’s airports per day.
That uptick in foot traffic makes airport restroom cleaning harder to do. Yet a clean, appealing restroom has never been more correlated to passenger safety and satisfaction. Mark Adamson, director of DKMA (a consultancy that advises the airport industry) says in a blog post that, “passenger satisfaction is all about the toilets. If they are not clean passenger reactions range from disappointment to disgust.”
Flight or Fight
The reaction is appropriate. Charles Gerba, University of Arizona microbiology professor known as “Dr. Germ” notes that airport restrooms harbor a variety of dangerous virus and germs. Surprisingly, the toilet is not the germiest place. In fact, in a CNN article, Dr. Germ insists that he would sit on a dry toilet seat anytime. “The fear of butt-borne diseases is overrated,” he says.
The floor, however, is another issue. “It can harbor a stew of strep, staph, E-coli, coliform, rotavirus and potentially deadly MRSA,” he says. Luggage, purses and carry-on bags easily pick up these dangerous bugs. If an unsuspecting traveler touches their contaminated bag and then their eyes, nose or mouth they can get ill.
Touchpoints present another threat. High use means that flush handles, stall locks, faucets and door knobs are covered with the germs and viruses brought in by thousands of users. No wonder people often get sick after a flight.
Clean, safe airport restrooms will keep passengers healthy and satisfied, especially during the busy travel season. So, clean more, right? While adding more sessions to your regular cleaning protocol is a great idea, the last thing a busy traveler, often burdened with bags, small children and a tight schedule, wants to see is a “closed for maintenance” sign. Great airport restroom cleaning has to be fast too.
This makes mops, buckets and rags are poor choices for the work. They’re slow to use. They leave surfaces wet and out of service longer. Most importantly they don’t fully remove soils and dangerous pathogens.
A no-touch system will allow staff to clean better and faster. A system like this lets personnel spay restroom surfaces like walls, toilets, urinals, sinks and floors with cleaning solution. After an appropriate dwell time, the solution is sprayed off with fresh water. A high-performance vacuum sucks up the moisture from the floor, leaving the restroom clean, dry and ready to use fast.
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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.