Unclean Restrooms Send Reputation Down the Drain
September 21, 2011

Facility managers and building owners take note: Restroom occupants do a lot to avoid germs in public restrooms. Bradley Corporation’s 10th annual Healthy Hand Washing Survey found that the respondents take many precautionary measures to not have to touch any potentially germ-riddled surfaces:

  • 63% use paper towels on doors and faucets
  • 45% flush the toilet with their foot
  • 39% use a seat line or cover on the toilet seat
  • 30% hover over the toilet seat
  • 29% open and close doors with their behind

“For the past 10 years, Americans have demonstrated they believe washing their hands after using a public restroom is very important,” Jon Dommisse, director of strategy and corporate development for Bradley Corp., states on the company’s Healthy Handwashing page. "However, their actual hand washing follow-through appears to fluctuate depending on the prevalence and severity of flu outbreaks."

Hand-Washing Remains Effective

A majority of survey respondents (62%) believe that soap and water are more effective at killing germs than hand sanitizer, a fact also back up by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Credit: Shutterstock

There are plenty of reasons to care about handwashing, including that it:

  • Can help prevent illness
  • Keeps children healthy and in school
  • Is simple to do

In about 20 seconds hands can be effectively washed, which equates to scrubbing your hands with soap for the amount of time it takes to hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice through. In this video, a CDC expert gives a hand-washing demonstration

[Related: How Unclean Restrooms Impact Students’ Perceptions of Your School]

Some notable other key findings from the 2019 Bradley survey include:

  • Cleaning professionals can help prevent cross-contamination in restrooms by focusing on these surfaces and objects such as counter tops, urinals, toilets, doorknobs, toilet handles, stall locks and faucets.
  • When sick, more than half stay home to avoid passing on their germs. Others wash their hands more frequently, use antibacterial soap whenever possible, sneeze into the crook of their elbow and avoid shaking hands.
  • Americans report washing their hands 87% of the time after using a public restroom. 

Technology Can Help with Cleanliness

Keeping restroom cleanliness a priority can pay off for your facility, building or business. Don’t let unclean restrooms damage your reputation. You can do it simply or go high-tech and take a “hands off”' approach.

Credit: Shutterstock

There are various restroom technologies and solutions that can assist in a clean facility.

Touchless Features

The 2019 Healthy Hand Washing Survey found that respondents often take actions to avoid germs in restrooms, as noted above. Any touchless feature, like knobs and handles, is one less place to potentially touch germs. This could include on toilets, doors, sinks, soap dispensers, and paper towel dispensers or hand dryers. Consider options that operate with the wave of a hand or have options to work without direct contact.


Facility management software like the Tork EasyCube can provide building owners and facilities managers real-time usage and traffic data. By monitoring restroom equipment, it can use data to generate a cleaning schedule, track if there have been an influx of people, or purchase and manage inventory.


Hand dryers not only dry hands and reduce bacteria, many are being promoted as a sustainable solution. Not only do they reduce the need for paper towels, there are options that make the dryers themselves more efficient. For example, the Dyson Airblade 9kJ states that it eradicates the bacteria by capturing 99.97% of particles through a fleece-lined glass fiber HEPA filter. When in Eco mode, it costs an average of $19 per year to operate and uses 86% less energy than warm air dryers. 

Through education and technology, you can provide a cleaner restroom environment for occupants. Download our complimentary hand-washing signage for your facility.

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This article was originally published Aug. 21, 2011. It was updated on Dec. 30, 2019.

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About the author
Valerie Dennis Craven | Director of Editorial Services, Editor-in-Chief of interiors+sources

Valerie is an experienced journalist with an emphasis in the B2B market. As the director of editorial services and editor-in-chief of interiors+sources, she leads the editorial staff in producing the monthly print magazine, coordinates topics for the newsletter and online, and contributes relevant content.