Survey Finds Positive ROI for Businesses with Clean Restrooms

Businesses that fail to keep their restrooms clean and maintained are unwittingly flushing away customers’ repeat business and sales. According to the Healthy Handwashing Survey™ from Bradley Corporation, almost 60% of Americans make it a point to stop at a business and will spend more money at the establishment if they know it has clean and maintained restrooms.

In fact, those age 25-44 are even more likely to shell out more cash based on the condition of a business’ restroom.

Conversely, there are negative business repercussions for experiencing a restroom in poor condition. More than half of Americans say an unclean or unpleasant public bathroom shows poor management and causes them to lower their opinion of the overall establishment. The 55+ age group is especially turned off by unkempt restrooms with more than 60% reporting a damaged impression of the overall business.

Almost 20% say a sloppy restroom actually makes them less likely to clean up after themselves.

The business fallout of unpleasant restrooms

Perhaps most damaging for customer-facing businesses is that 52% say a bad restroom experience causes them to vow not to return in the future or think twice about doing so. Another 32% will either tell a friend or post a comment on social media about the negative encounter.

While there are a variety of restroom maintenance issues that may tarnish customers’ restroom experiences, the most common ones include clogged or unflushed toilets; an overall appearance that is old, dirty or unkempt; unpleasant smells; and empty or jammed dispensers for soap, toilet paper and hand towels.

“Restroom maintenance may seem like a business no brainer but limited budgets and facility staffing issues mean that companies are doing more with less staff and resources,” says Jon Dommisse, vice president of marketing and corporate communication, Bradley Corporation. “Nevertheless, customers place a high value on clean restrooms – and reward businesses that offer them. It’s incumbent upon facility managers to prioritize regular restroom cleaning and make sure that everything is in good working order.”  

Understanding the aversion to touching restroom surfaces

“In 2023, Americans continue to be in an elevated state of germ consciousness and don’t like touching things in shared public restroom spaces,” adds Dommisse. “As a result, people use all sorts of techniques to avoid coming into contact with surfaces.”

62% use a paper towel to avoid touching toilet flushers and faucet and door handles. 43% operate the flusher with their foot. 31% hover over the toilet seat and 27% open and close doors with their behind to eliminate contact. Women are considerably more likely than men to use these evasive actions.

With so many people deliberately avoiding contact with restroom surfaces, it’s not surprising that 82% believe it is important to have touchless fixtures in a public restroom. Another 60% are more likely to return to a business that offers touch-free technology like faucets, flushers, soap and towel dispensers in its restrooms.

“When asked what restroom improvements they’d like to see, cleanliness topped the list,” Dommisse said. “After that, Americans want touchless fixtures and better stocking of supplies, such as toilet paper, soap and paper towels.”

The annual Healthy Handwashing Survey from Bradley Corp. queried 1,025 American adults Jan. 4-10, 2023, about their handwashing habits, concerns about the coronavirus and flu and their use of public restrooms. Participants were from around the country and were fairly evenly split between men (45%) and women (55%).

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