4 Things You Should Know About Restroom Cleaning

restroom-cleaningHow a business maintains its restroom is a direct reflection of its overall dedication to the customer experience. Nobody likes a dirty restroom. And a company that doesn’t maintain a clean restroom is likely to suffer in the long run.

If your cleaning routine needs a quality upgrade, we suggest starting with the basics. Below we’ve outlined four things you need to know about restroom cleaning:

1) Know the difference between cleaning and disinfecting. It’s a common misconception that cleaning and disinfecting are the same thing. In actuality, they serve two very different purposes. Cleaning removes unsightly soil, dirt and debris. Disinfecting eliminates viruses, bacteria and germs.

2) Identify your restroom touch points. Before cleaning a restroom, you need to identify all “touch points.” Touch points account for surfaces that people touch frequently. To prevent the spread of infection, they should be cleaned and disinfected on a daily basis. Common restroom touch points include:

  • Door knobs and handles — including those used to get in and out of restroom stalls
  • Balance rails
  • Toilet seats
  • Toilet flushers
  • Faucets and knobs
  • Soap dispensers
  • Paper towel dispensers — including levers and knobs
  • Hand dryer buttons
  • Light switches

3) Always clean before you disinfect. Cleaning and disinfecting go hand-in-hand, but order is still incredibly important. A thorough cleaning with soap (or detergent) paves the way for a strong disinfectant.  It also reduces the spread of germs and infection prior to killing them with disinfectant.

4) Pay close attention to hazard warnings and directions on product labels. Most cleaning products require the use of gloves and/or eye protection. Common cleaning chemicals can easily cause irritation to the skin, nose and eyes if you aren’t properly prepared. You and your staff should read and understand all appropriate uses before diving into the cleaning process.

Hand Washing: Discerning Fact from Fiction

hand-washingMyth #1: You should only wash your hands with hot water.

Soap and warm water have long been said to prevent the spread of disease and infection — but is hot water really more effective than cold?

Surprisingly, the answer is no. A 2005 study (published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine), asked participants to wash their hands in temperatures ranging from 40 to 120 degrees. What researchers found was that water temperature didn’t really matter when it came to eliminating germs.

Temperature might not matter, but time certainly does. Another study at Northwestern University found that participants who washed their hands for just five seconds did nothing to eliminate bacteria on their hands. While people who washed their hands for 30 seconds killed nearly everything.

So what’s the moral of the story? Feel free to wash your hands at a comfortable temperature, just make to be as thorough as possible.

Myth #2: Hand sanitizers work just as well as soap and water.

Though hand sanitizer might seem like a quick and easy alternative to getting your hands wet, it’s not as effective. Numerous studies, including a recent one at the University of Maryland have shown that regular old hand washing is still the best way prevent the spread of disease and bacteria.

If you’re in a pinch, hand sanitizer is better than nothing — as long as it’s alcohol based (at least 60 percent) and you allow it to dry for at least 15 seconds.

Myth #3: Frequent hand washing promotes healthy skin.

When it comes to your skin, hand washing is a necessary evil. Yes it prevents the spread of disease and infection — but too much can wreak havoc on your skin. In fact, contact dermatitis (a red, itchy rash) can develop as a result of frequent hand washing.

If you want to keep your skin soft and supple, we suggest limiting hand washing (to a point). The main goal of hand washing is to remove or reduce the number of organisms on your hand normally, as well as those picked up from the environment.

To avoid over or under washing, the Mayo Clinic recommends these guidelines:

Always wash your hands before:

  • Preparing food or eating food
  • Treating wounds, administering medicine or caring for a sick or injured person
  • Inserting or removing contact lenses

Always wash your hands after:

  • Preparing food, especially raw meat or poultry
  • Using the toilet or changing a diaper
  • Touching an animal or animal toys/leashes or waste
  • Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • Treating wounds or caring for a sick or injured person
  • Handling garbage, household or garden chemicals or anything that could be contaminated.

Note: These guidelines should be more stringent if you work in the food or health care industry.

Image Credit: Flickr

World Hand Hygiene Day

hand washingHand washing is the easiest, most effective way to prevent the spread of infection and disease — especially in healthcare settings.

Despite this, millions of patients around the world still suffer with healthcare-associated infections (HAI), which can lead to debilitating physical and psychological problems, and sometimes death. And what’s more — over half of these infections could have been prevented if healthcare workers and caregivers had simply practiced proper hand hygiene.

According to the World Health Organization, “The most common infections are urinary tract and surgical site infections, pneumonia and infections of the bloodstream. Of every 100 hospitalized patients, at least 7 in developed and 10 in developing countries will acquire a health care-associated infection. Among critically ill and vulnerable patients in intensive care units, that figure rises to around 30 per 100.”

To put a global spotlight on this issue, the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are celebrating World Hand Hygiene Day to encourage better hand hygiene practices in healthcare settings.

So far, more than 15,700 health facilities in 168 countries have registered their commitment to good hand hygiene as a part of the WHO global campaign: “SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands.” The program has been up and running since 2009 and 12 new countries have joined in the past year.

When should healthcare workers wash their hands?

The WHO’s Clean Care is Safer Care Program states that when working with patients, hand hygiene should be performed using an alcohol-based rub or by hand washing with foaming hand soap and water. There are a number of situations when healthcare workers should be washing:

  • Before touching a patient
  • Before clean and aseptic procedures (e.g., inserting devices such as catheters)
  • After contact with body fluids
  • After touching a patient
  • After touching patient surroundings

As we mark Hand Hygiene Day, it’s important for all of us to spread the message of hand hygiene at home, at work and in healthcare facilities.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Decoding Green Cleaning Products

cleaning-supplies
At its most basic level, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has defined green cleaning as “products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose.”

If you’re thinking about making the switch to green cleaning products, you probably have a few questions that aren’t covered in the EPA’s definition above. So below we’ve outlined some key points to consider when making your product selection.

Skin Irritation

Traditional commercial cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that may cause redness or swelling of the skin. A less toxic cleaning solution (aka a green cleaning product) that doesn’t contain any of the following skin irritants will be safer for your cleaning staff:

  • Ammonia
  • Sodium hydroxide
  • Sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach)
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Sulfuric acid

Air Pollution Potential

Many commercial cleaning products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which emit smog-forming chemicals and have also been shown to cause irritation to the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. They may also induce severe asthma attacks. Choosing low VOC green cleaning products will:

  • Lower smog-forming emissions
  • Improve the health and safety of your cleaning staff
  • Reduce eye and respiratory irritation

Dyes & Fragrances

Dyes and fragrances are frequently added to cleaning agents to enhance the color of a product or mask offensive odors. However, these additives have little or no actual cleaning value. Avoiding unnecessary additives is a basic green cleaning principle — so if you really want to make the plunge, it’s best to avoid these unnecessary dyes and fragrances.

Packaging

Product packaging is an important component of going green. Packaging accounts for a significant amount of landfill waste and should be minimized whenever possible. The EPA recommends selecting products that use reduced packaging made from recycled materials.

Do you still have questions about green commercial cleaning products? We can help. Contact National Purity for more information.

 

Spring Cleaning Tips for Facility Managers

restroom-cleaningSpring is finally here which means it’s time for facility managers and building owners to review and amend their current cleaning procedures for the new season.

Below are five spring cleaning tips to consider during this year’s annual assessment.

Focus on Flooring

Most high traffic floors take a serious beating during the winter months — leaving they dull, dingy or stained come Spring. Invest your time in some deep cleaning services, which can revitalize tile and carpet. A seasonal deep clean can make your floors look brand new. It can also increase their lifespan over time.

Have Air Conditioning Units Serviced

If your AC units have been turned off for several months, they need a thorough coil cleaning. This will not only improve your unit’s energy efficiency, it will improve the indoor air quality of your facility. AC units that don’t undergo spring maintenance can lead to unpleasant odors, allergens and other symptoms of “sick building syndrome.”

Deep Clean Restrooms

Hopefully you already have a thorough daily cleaning routine in place for restroom maintenance. That being said, periodic deep cleans are the best way to eliminate lingering bacteria and dirt. A quality deep clean should remove built-up dirt and grime, sanitize all restroom surfaces and polish fixtures.

Take Care of Small Details

Winter can be a drain on your cleaning staff. Removing snow and constantly cleaning dirty floors can leave little time for much else. This spring make it your goal to shift away from the big picture and focus on the small details. Small changes like replacing bulbs and ballasts or patching caulk lines can really freshen up the interior of your building.

Consider Going Green

The benefits associated with green cleaning are endless. It’s not only good for the environment, it’s also safer for your cleaning staff and more cost-efficient in the long run. Green cleaning products should be biodegradable, free of any known carcinogens, and have lower impact on the environment.

Image Credit: Flickr

71% of American Consumers Care About “Going Green”

green cleaning productsDo American consumers actually care about the environment?

According to a 2013 survey — the answer appears to be yes.

The survey, which was conducted by Cone Communications, found that a whopping 71 percent of Americans (up from 66 percent in 2008)  think about the environment when making purchasing decisions on things like cleaning supplies.

  • 7 percent consider every time they shop
  • 20 percent consider it regularly when they shop
  • 44 percent consider it sometimes when they shop

Do Americans really know what “going green” means?

While it’s clear that “going green” is becoming increasingly important for American consumers, there’s still a lot of confusion surrounding green products.

More than 60 percent of respondents were under the impression that marketing terms like “green” and “environmentally friendly” indicated that a particular product had little or no impact on the environment. Only 22 percent were able to recognize that such terms meant a product had a lesser impact than traditional products.

And though nearly nine in 10 respondents felt it was their responsibility to correctly use and dispose of products — only 30 percent indicated they actually use products in a way that achieves its intended environmental goal. And only 42 percent indicated they dispose of these products properly.

“With more and more products in the marketplace marketed as compostable and biodegradable, that is where the breakdown in communication begins,” said Liz Gorman, SVP for CSR and sustainable business practices at Cone Communications. “Once a consumer buys a product, they are responsible for that part of the lifecycle of the product.”

“They understand they have a responsibility to follow through, but probing a little deeper, we can see that there is a lot of confusion and they don’t always close the loop – either because they don’t understand what is expected, or don’t have the resources,” she added.

American consumers want more transparency from green manufacturers

Despite an apparent lack of follow-through, it appears that most consumers are interested in learning more. Eighty-five percent indicated that they would like product manufacturers to include better information regarding proper use and disposal. Additionally, close to three-quarters would like manufacturers to do a better job educating them on environmental terms.

When choosing a product, survey respondents felt that honesty played a key role in their decision making. Sixty-nine percent said it would be okay if a product was not environmentally perfect — as long as they were honest about it. While 78 percent say they would boycott a product that came with misleading claims about its environmental impact.

If you have questions about green cleaning supplies, contact the experts at National Purity today!

Image Credit: Flickr

6 Ways to Make Your Facility More Sustainable

sustainabilityCreating a culture of sustainability within your facility not only helps the environment, it reduces operating costs, shows your staff that you care about their well-being and increases your organization’s marketability.

If you’re ready to implement sustainable change, the steps below will get you started on the right foot.

1. Make the switch to green commercial cleaning products. This is one of the easiest — and most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint. It’s also better for the health of your staff.

2. Change your cleaning processes. Green commercial cleaning products are a good start, but how you use them is just as important. Work with your team to redefine the ways in which cleaning is performed to ensure that contaminants are removed without adding unwanted substances to the environment.

3. Set attainable goals. If you’re truly motivated to go green, you’ve also got to be goal-oriented. Set mini goals, along with overarching objectives for your staff. This will make the task at hand less daunting. It will also make your efforts measurable.

4. Properly train your staff. To perform their job well, your staff needs on-site, site-specific and annual in-service training. This will help maintain their knowledge of the correct procedures for safety, tools, techniques and pertinent environmental standards.

5. Open the lines of communication. Make sure everyone knows (from staff to management to daily visitors) that your facility is making efforts to become more sustainable. Encouraging everyone to participate and suggest new avenues of sustainability is the only way a sustainable culture can truly thrive.

6. Incorporate sustainability into your brand identity. Telling everyone through your branding and marketing efforts will strengthen your vision and help your organization as whole meet its sustainability goals.

Image Credit: Flickr

75% of Americans Use Cellphone on Toilet

toiletWe can probably guess where some of you are reading this right now.

The results of a new survey have revealed that nearly three-quarters of Americans are guilty of pulling out their cellphone while sitting on the toilet. That figure jumps to 91 percent for those born between 1977 and 1993.

Conducted by the marketing agency 11mark, the survey (called “IT in the Toilet”) asked 1,000 Americans about their bathroom habits.

Of those polled, 25 percent said they wouldn’t even go to the bathroom without their mobile device. And while 63 percent admitted to answering calls, 41 percent have talked to someone else (at least knowingly) who was also on the toilet.

Interestingly enough, professionals also admitted to using their phone on the toilet while working. Twenty percent of men have even joined a conference call from the toilet (and 13 percent of women).

So which mobile users are the worst offenders?

Android users — by far. A whopping 87 percent admitted to talking, texting and surfing the web while in the restroom. BlackBerry users were the most likely to answer (75%) or make a call (48%) while in the loo, and iPhone users were the most likely to use an app (57%) or engage in social media (52%).

Keeping Public Restrooms Clean Is More Important Than Ever

America’s unhealthy devotion to constant communication means restroom cleanliness is more important than ever. Though it’s unlikely that cleaning professionals will be able to convince restroom users to wash their hands (unless they’re willing to put up signs) — they can do their best to make sure restroom surfaces are clean and sanitary.

Cross contamination, in particular, is one biggest concerns with restroom cellphone use. Touch-free hand washing (i.e., foam hand soap dispensers and automatic hand dryers), along with periodic sanitizing is the best way to keep your restrooms safe and clean for users and their phones.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Nominations Open for “America’s Best Restroom Contest”

restroomIt’s that time of year again — America’s annual battle of the bowls!

Soon porcelain thrones across the country will be competing for a winning spot in “America’s Best Restroom Contest.”

Projecting a Clean Image

How a business maintains its restroom reflects its dedication to the customer experience.

Despite this, finding a restroom that’s both clean and stylish is a true rarity. When asked, most people would probably describe their trip to the public restroom as fairly unremarkable — or worse — incredibly unpleasant.

Exceptional experiences don’t happen often, but when they do — they’re a real treat. And to honor these customer-oriented experiences, work apparel company Cintas is once again sponsoring it’s annual competition.

The competition began 12 years ago and aims to raise awareness of the importance of restroom hygiene and to salute businesses that strive for excellence in both restroom function and design.

Nominate a Restroom

Last year Buc-ee’s, a convenience store in New Braunfels, TX won the honor, but this year’s winning spot is still up for grabs.

Do you own your own establishment? Or have you recently patronized a particularly memorable facility? You can nominate your favorite restroom online at www.bestrestroom.com.

The contest is open to any non-residential public restroom in the U.S. Once submitted, entries will be judged on several key points:

  • Cleanliness
  • Visual appeal
  • Innovation
  • Functionality
  • Design

Cintas will then round up a list of the “top 10 places to go—when you’ve got to go.” The ten finalists will be announced in August, at which time public online voting will ensue. The winner will be announced this fall, securing a permanent place in the contest hall of fame.

Image Credit: Flickr

Tips for Choosing Green Commercial Cleaning Products

cleaning-suppliesMore professional cleaning companies are choosing to go green — and for good reason. Green commercial cleaning products are not only better for the environment, they’re better for the long term health and safety of your employees.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult (if not sometimes impossible) to determine if a cleaning product is truly eco-friendly. Terms like “all natural” and “green” are often inaccurate — and because the federal government doesn’t regulate the use of these terms, it can be easy for marketers to perpetuate false claims.

In most cases, the only way to discover the actual ingredients is to read the product’s material safety data sheet (MSDS) — a federally mandated list of ingredients provided to make sure chemical hazards are well-known in the workplace. The list of potentially dangerous cleaning ingredients is endless, but here a few key violators:

  • Alkylphenol
  • Ammonia
  • Butyl Cellosolve (Butyl Glycol, Ethylene Glycol, Monobutyl)
  • Chlorine Bleach (Sodium Hypochlorite)
  • Glycol Ethers (Ethylene Glycol Mono-butyl Ether, EGBE or 2-butoxyethanol)
  • Monoethanolamine (MEA)
  • Diethanolamine (DEA) or Triethanolamine (TEA)
  • Phenols; Phosphates
  • Phthalates (fragrances)
  • Triclosan

In addition to checking on the ingredients list, we suggest following some of the guidelines below:

  • Ingredients should be natural — derived from plants and minerals. There should be no petroleum-derived or petrochemical ingredients listed on the label.
  • Green cleaning products should be safe for septic tanks and gray matter.
  • Green cleaning products should be free of any known carcinogens, mutagens teratogens and endocrine disruptors.
  • Ingredients should be biodegradable (dissolved easily within the environment without destroying nature) and non-corrosive.

Do you still have questions about green commercial cleaning products? Contact National Purity today!

Image Credit: Flickr