The post-lockdown washroom

4th of June 2020
The post-lockdown washroom

Paul Wonnacott, managing director of Vectair Systems, explains why washrooms sitting idle could cause a headache for commercial facilities.

The coronavirus pandemic has meant widespread closures for many types of establishments, such as restaurants, pubs and gyms - and for these venues, it doesn't look likely that the lockdown will be lifted any time soon.

I know this will have an impact on washroom hygiene. Month-long closures will have meant that many washrooms will have remained untouched, and toilets may not have been maintained properly.

Sadly, for those set to return to their commercial facilities once lockdown is over, a washroom sitting idle can cause a range of problems.

I can almost visualise owners and facilities managers returning to washrooms and being hit first by an awful smell (resembling sewage, I would imagine), followed by signs of staining and bacteria.

Drains need to be flushed through on a regular basis, otherwise they start to emit rather unpleasant smells. Over time, without proper maintenance and regular flushing of the toilets and urinals, uric acid can pose a problem.

Uric acid is a waste by-product that is found in urine. If toilets and urinals aren't flushed through regularly, it can build up. First it turns to sludge, and then to a cement-like mixture, which causes costly pipe blockages.

Water should be run through taps in the sink on a regular basis and toilets and urinals should ideally be flushed at least once a day. Stagnant water causes bacteria, which can cause staining on surfaces and around the toilet rim. It can even attract animals and insects!

Splash-back or spills could have been busy seeping into floors, and into tiles, so a deep floor clean is essential once washrooms re-open. Bacteria will have started to build on surfaces, and even well-ventilated rooms won't feel very ‘fresh'. Treating any uric acid build up with a natural cleaner that can degrade organic waste at source, can help remove stains and dissolve blockages. It will also remove the source of malodour.

If the coronavirus pandemic has done anything, it has made the desire for a clean washroom not only a ‘nice to have', it is now an essential.

Maintaining a fresh and fragranced washroom environment with superior facilities will go a long way for your business once people start to get back to normal life. Research has shown a strong correlation between washroom hygiene and consumer perception of a venue, with unhygienic washrooms reflecting badly on a brand. And that was before this global pandemic!

Expect to see more automation in the washroom. The touchless washroom had already been creeping into more and more buildings before the COVID-19 pandemic, and now it's just going to get more focus. Manual dispensers will still have a place because of cost, and because of things like antimicrobial technology which can be built into the dispenser covers.

Antimicrobial technology works by reducing the growth of bacteria on the dispenser surface by up to 99.99 per cent, so it is safer to touch. However, automation is clearly the future. Where once there were manual hand dryers, soap and tissue dispensers, these will likely change over time to automatic ‘touch-free' products.

Faucets and taps will become sensor driven. I also expect to see automatic doors becoming the norm, and where space and design permits, especially in high traffic venues, no doors at all. Expensive yes, but customers are already much more aware of health and safety. Although we are facing a post-pandemic financial crash, venues will have to focus their efforts (and their cash) on cleanliness and limiting the spread of diseases in places like washrooms and kitchens, as well as general meeting areas.

As venues prepare to reopen, we have already seen a strong demand for ready-to-use instant hand gel and sanitiser stations, placed at building entrances. We cannot forget the toilet and toilet cubicles either - anything or anywhere there is a touch-to-operate function, this too over time will be replaced with more automation. Everything of course will need to be serviced often to ensure that there is always supply. The profile has been raised for the cleaning industry - now we just need to deliver.


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