How to Break the Curse of Unpleasant Restrooms

by | Feb 28, 2024

Unpleasant restrooms can ruin your company’s reputation. More than just a punchline (think about the tv/movie troupe of repulsive gas station bathrooms) unpleasant restrooms have real world consequences. Customers remember smelly, littered, or unclean restrooms and project that experience on the rest of your company.

Protect your reputation and brand. Break the curse of unpleasant restrooms by giving guests spotless spaces that inspire delight. Here’s how to upgrade the restroom experience.

Unpleasant Restrooms: A Definition

What is an unpleasant restroom? The answer probably shifts based on the individual and circumstance. After all, we all change our expectations based on the situations. Would you expect the same restroom experience in a brand-new, five-star restaurant and a beloved, generations-old, family establishment?

Probably not. But some things are restroom deal killers no matter the circumstances. The most common restroom complaints are:

  • Foul odors
  • Lack of supplies
  • Overflowing trash receptacles
  • Dirty or wet floors
  • Broken equipment

These issues create a negative feeling that radiate directly to your brand. Cintas Corporation found that nearly three-quarters of Americans (74%) say dirty restrooms would cause them to have a negative perception of a business. More than two in three Americans (68%) also say restrooms with empty hand soap, toilet paper, and paper towel dispensers would negatively impact their opinion of a business. 

Unpleasant Restrooms? It’s May Not Be Your Fault

Keeping a restroom consistently clean and fresh can be difficult. Everything from the labor shortage to poorly-maintained HVAC systems, to bad equipment choices influence how clean your restroom feels. Unfortunately, some of these problems are baked in from the start.

“Too many facilities are designed with a focus on appearance, ignoring maintenance,” writes James Piper, P.E., in this Facilitesnet article. “Poor decisions made during the planning process — often made to reduce construction costs — can lead to long-term operational issues. Lower cost finishes and components often are more difficult to clean or are more prone to failure than higher cost ones.”

How to Prevent Unpleasant Restrooms

Get rid of unpleasant restrooms If you want to consistently delight your guests. Some fixes however will be easier than others. Problems like lack of supplies or overflowing trash receptacles can be solved with more frequent restroom checks. If labor realities don’t allow for more restroom checks, you can add fixtures, or replace existing fixtures with high-capacity models.

Replace broken fixtures as soon as possible. This might also be a good time to evaluate if that model is right for your particular restroom needs. Match the equipment and design choices to the situation. For example, it might make sense to swap the towel dispenser with a hand dryer if vandals use the towels to clog toilets.   

Dirty floors are a sure sign that your restroom needs more frequent cleaning. Adding another cleaning to the schedule might help. If not, you should look into better cleaning methods and tools, particularly if your restroom smells bad even after cleaning. Mops, for instance, never fully remove dirt, impurities, and pathogens. They do however push dirty water directly into grout where smelly bacteria lives.

A No-Touch Cleaning® system can solve both problems.

Workers use these tools to apply cleaning chemical to fixtures, cubical walls, and floors. They then blast soil from surfaces with a built-in pressure washer. The pressure washer even dislodges dirt and impurities trapped inside the grout. Finally, the slurry is vacuumed up leaving floors clean, dry, and fresh smelling.

Don’t let bad restroom experiences define your brand. Break the curse of unpleasant restrooms and delight your customers. Click here for more.

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.
Amy Milshtein
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