Ask the Expert (Restroom Maintenance)

How Can We Minimize Germs in Restrooms?

Avoiding contact with germs in restrooms is an important health topic, particularly during the winter months when cold and flu illnesses are prevalent. To start, frequent and thorough hand washing is a must when it comes to stopping the spread of germs. That means washing vigorously with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and drying thoroughly. Setting water temperature at a comfortable warm temperature (roughly 100°F or 38°C) will help support the hand washing process. Posting signage with friendly reminders about hand washing near sink areas, and verbal reminders from teachers, including “hand washing breaks” before snacks and lunch can also help reinforce hand washing habits.

Regular restroom maintenance checks are also mandatory. These check-ins should ideally include cleaning and sanitizing of commonly touched surfaces — faucets, sinks, partition latches and entrance doors. It’s also important to restock soap and paper towels to help ensure hands can be completely cleaned and dried.

As for restroom design and products, touchless fixtures help minimize touchpoints on germridden restroom surfaces. In 2011, University of Colorado researchers examined the microbial biogeography of public restroom surfaces and found that the hand washing process was responsible for significant bacterial exposure, as soap dispensers contained even more bacteria than toilet seats. Using sensor-operated faucets, flush valves, soap dispensers, hand dryers and paper towel dispensers will reduce germ contact and cross-contamination from users’ hands.

In addition, consider lavatory units made of non-porous sustainable materials that do not support microbial growth. Also look for units that feature seamless molded construction, so there are no cracks and crevices for germs and dirt to build up. Lavatory countertops and sinks that employ a smooth and seamless contoured or linear design are also very easy to wipe down.

This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of School Planning & Management.

About the Author

Will Haas is a product manager for Bradley Corporation. He can be reached at 800/BRADLEY or www.bradleycorp.com.

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