Feature Article - May/June 2004
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Clean Sweep

Patron-pleasing plans for restrooms and locker rooms

By Kelli Anderson

Cleaning strategies

Neish suggests that monitoring at regular intervals and implementing a checklist system is key.

"Workers initial, time and date the various tasks to be completed on a posted form to show the manager what was done and when," Neish says. "It keeps cleaning staff honest. Intervals of every two hours is an adequate inspection, but major events are one-hour intervals."

Along with initially designing areas with easy-to-reach cleaning surfaces around toilets and faucets, posting lists that require such things as picking up debris, noting broken items, attending to trash overflow and refilling dispensers (just some of the tasks that need policing to keep restrooms and locker rooms ship-shape at all times) will help ensure that those spaces get the attention they need.

Educating your cleaning staff on which cleaning products to use and where to use them is another invaluable component in the cleanliness equation. Making sure easy-to-ignore spaces are attended to—like back sections or the outside of the toilet bowl—is essential to getting beyond the average surface-clean.

"We should be cleaning for health first and appearance second," says Anthony Trombetta, education and training manager of International Sanitary Supply Association, Inc. in Lincolnwood, Ill. "The most common mistakes are first made by the managers and supervisors due to lack of a good training program. Wrong chemicals are used on the wrong surfaces, chemicals are combined causing unsafe situations, and cross-contamination occurs by using the same cleaning tool to clean the toilet and then the sink. All of these problems can be avoided through proper training."

Smelling fresh

Besides looking clean, these areas also need to smell clean. Having an adequate exhaust or ventilation system will go a long way to eliminating unwanted odors, to say nothing of combating mildew-loving moist environments.

"Usually it's a problem of inadequate exhaust system size, or that the system is not working properly," Neish says. But if adequate drainage and ventilation are not the issue, chances are that cleaning needs to be more frequent and/or more thorough.

The frustration factor

Keeping patrons happy isn't just about providing the positives, it's about eliminating the negatives. Removing the frustration of lines, poor traffic patterns, overcrowded spaces and empty dispensers may not sound glamorous, but it's an essential part of the patron-pleasing package.

"The two most critical elements in these spaces is keeping them very clean and well-stocked," Rock says. "What drives people to complain are paper towels being out or soap being empty. Have sufficient hand towels. Increase staff to restock or have ample-sized dispensers that don't have to be constantly filled." Rock recommends one towel dispenser to every four people.

Placing hand-washing and hand-drying areas so that they draw traffic through the space from one entrance to the exit will also help keep patrons from stepping over each other in their efforts to get in and out quickly. Some counter designs now incorporate the soap dispenser, sinks, towels and trash receptacles so that all hand-washing functions are accomplished at one station, thereby eliminating the mess and safety hazard of wet hands dripping water across the floor. Other designs place the trash receptacle at the exit so patrons dry their hands while on their way out in an efficient assembly-line fashion.