Public bathrooms: What the pros say about cleaning

How to clean public washrooms by Tennier


Everyone knows how to clean a bathroom – right?

Recently a client came to us, frustrated because the public bathrooms in 10 of their local stores always seemed to be dirty, and they were getting complaints.

“I don’t get it,” said the client. “We have a cleaning budget, we have checklists, and we have a roomful of cleaning products. How is it possible that our bathrooms are always so dirty that our customers actually complain about it?”

It may surprise you to learn that we hear this particular frustration fairly often: Senior management or business owners feel like cleaning bathrooms is a straightforward task, and yet it isn’t being done, or done to such a low standard that it’s actually impacting their business.

So what’s happening?

As the infographic below indicates, there are a few problems:

  • Lack of time provided to employees to clean the bathroom
  • Too much traffic in the store (which is also related to lack of time, because higher traffic should mean more frequent cleanings)
  • Lack of cleaning products
  • Lack of training

How can companies foster better cleaning at the store level?

These are our tips for ensuring that your public restrooms are cleaned thoroughly, properly – and to a standard that means customers won’t complain.

1. Give employees the time they need to get the cleaning done. In many cases, managers or assistant managers of individual stores tell employees to “just get it done fast”, and reprimand employees who take too long (in their opinion) to properly clean washrooms, or who try to clean washrooms more than once a shift. Senior management needs to make it clear to store managers that employees must be given adequate time to do the cleaning.

2. Recognize that cleaning schedules need to be flexible. A public washroom that only needs a quick clean on a slow Monday morning may need hourly cleaning on a busy Saturday. It’s crucial to adapt to busier times.

3. Ensure employees have the right supplies and equipment. In our experience, ‘lack of supplies’ means one of two things: Either the company isn’t providing suitable products for different surfaces/soils, or the company puts strict limits on the amount of cleaning products that can be used. While no business should waste money on over-use of products, it’s important that management is setting the right levels for product use.

4. Yes, you do need to train employees on how to clean the bathrooms. Many of us assume that any adult is perfectly capable of cleaning a bathroom without detailed instruction. But the truth is that public restrooms are different, have different fixtures, fittings and flooring, and have different trouble spots. (And, let’s face it, some people just aren’t great natural cleaners.) So spending a few hours training employees on cleaning methods, procedures and standards isn’t actually a waste of resources: It will in fact deliver a good ROI over time (especially when just  few bad Google reviews can make a big difference in your sales).

More bathroom cleaning facts to think about

We liked this infographic from ISSA. At the very least, it gives you some areas to address if you’ve been getting complaints about your public restrooms.

Infographic from Tennier on public washroom cleaning

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