With the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining high-traffic common areas in a facility, such as restrooms is critical. According to a study, 77,000 distinct types of bacteria and viruses exist in restrooms. Due to the aerosol effect that occurs when a toilet is flushed with the lid open, harmful bacteria can easily be transferred throughout the restroom.
However, the toilet is not a restroom’s most unsanitary place. In fact, many different surfaces harbor bacteria. In addition to cleaning toilets, it is very important to clean & disinfect the following high-touch surfaces to help prevent germ transmission:
1. Door Handles
Door handles are one of the most unavoidable high-touch area in a restroom. As patrons enter and exit, germs are transferred from restroom users’ hand to the door handle and from the door handle to other users hand. Cleaning and disinfecting restroom door handles frequently will help mitigate the spread of germs throughout facilities. When applying disinfectants, make sure the disinfectant reaches the back of the door handle.
2. Dispensers & Hand Dryers
Not all restrooms include contact-less soap and paper towel dispensers. Dispensers without contact-less features harbors more bacteria as restrooms users will have to touch them to use them. Facility managers should ensure that “push”dispensers are cleaned and disinfected frequently if contact-less dispensers are not feasible.
Hand dryers have also been shown to spread germs throughout a restroom. A 2018 study found that hot-air hand dryers collect bacteria from the air and transfer it onto freshly washed hands. Another study found that jet-air dryers spread 60 times more bacteria than hot air dryers and 1,300 times more than paper towels.
Providing contact-less paper towel dispensers can be one way to help patrons and employees dry their hands without spreading germs. Facility managers should consider strategically placing paper towel dispensers close to the exit so that patrons can use the paper towel to grab the door handle when exiting a restroom. Place a trash can next to the exit so that the paper towel can be discarded immediately.
3. Light Switches
In some restrooms, users may have to manually turn lights on and off, especially if the restroom is in a small facility or if the restroom itself is small. With floors, door handles, and toilets getting most of the attention, light switches can often be overlooked when cleaning & disinfecting high-touch surfaces in restrooms. Make sure your light switches receive the proper attention from cleaners.
4. Rails & Stalls
Rails should be cleaned frequently by using a soft microfiber cloth, avoiding abrasive tools and solutions. Should you use abrasive tools and solutions like steel wool or mineral acids & bleach, the rails may start to rust. If you use disinfectant solutions, follow proper label instructions. It is important for cleaners to know and respect the dwell times of disinfectants as well as know if the solution should be wiped off or must be air dried. When cleaning door latches, toilets, and floors, don’t ignore restrooms stall walls, which may be covered in bacteria spread from the toilet aerosol effect. Stall walls can accumulate germs and are often overlooked.
Restroom Cleaning Best Practices
When deep cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces in restrooms, it’s critical that facilities follow best practices, such as:
• Using high-pressure cleaning and extraction: High-pressure cleaning removes buildup that brushes can’t reach and eliminates the need to touch contaminated surfaces. It removes soil and dirty water, which helps to minimize cross-contamination and odor causing bacteria. Afterward, it is best to extract any leftover soils to prepare the surface for disinfection.
• Clean before disinfecting: Proper disinfection requires the removal of heavy soils that can become embedded in restrooms before disinfectant is applied. Cleaning will decrease dirt, germs and other impurities on high-touch surfaces, and disinfecting will kill or inactivate the germs on the surface. If high-pressure cleaning and extraction is not available, using separate brushes, hand tools, microfiber wipes, and a dual-chamber mop bucket will help reduce cross-contamination.
Following best practices that address cleaning high-touch points in high traffic areas such as restrooms is important to help limit the spread of germs throughout a facility.