Woosh Washrooms

People will avoid certain brands like a bad smell… Don’t let yours be one of them.

No one wants to walk into a washroom that is unclean or missing essential consumables like soap and toilet paper; less still do visitors want to discover an unpleasant smell. Yet malodours are typically the first thing that are noticed by visitors when entering a washroom, setting the course for the remainder of a person’s visit.

We now know that visitors will use the state of a company’s washroom as a benchmark for a business, regarding those with poorly maintained assets and facilities as far less favourable to work with or buy from. Air quality is just one of a number of factors that has an influence on this vital first impression. In many ways, the entire washroom experience stands and falls with the quality of air care, making it one of the most critical features of washroom management, particularly for companies that take their visitors’ perception and overall reputation seriously.  

But why is smell such a big factor?
One answer to this question lies in the world of neuroscience. As an article in Psychology Today points out, the hippocampus, a region of the brain that regulates emotions, is now known as the site in which time-and-place ‘smell memories’ are encoded. This encoding process leaves individuals associating smells with a powerful ‘spatiotemporal’ moment which can be triggered when the individual again encounters an odour in similar or even completely different environments.

This process and the memories that are created are understood to be very difficult to alter or erase, making the washroom air quality challenge all the more important for businesses concerned with setting the right tone. The issue only takes on greater significance when factoring in the huge amount of research that suggests the lopsided power that bad memories have over good ones. In other words, if a visitor has had a bad washroom experience, particularly due to malodour, they are more likely to remember that time more vividly than other more positive occasions.

So how can you assure a positive experience?
And what are the pros and cons of the options available to businesses? Not all air fresheners were created equal and some are better suited to certain cases than others. Let’s take a look at them.   

First up is the aerosol auto-dispenser.
This is found across all different types of washrooms, particularly public loos as they are the most cost-effective way to eliminate bad smells. While these are definitely the most budget-friendly solution, the freshening smell that they dispense will disappear far quicker than other options on the market. They also have a higher impact on the environment. As such, aerosols are likely not the best option for businesses that bring lots of important clients into their offices, or for those that have green aspirations.

Secondly, you have reed diffusers.
These are now a staple in many homes but are increasingly being seen in the washroom environment. Reed diffusers are excellent at sustaining a fragrance, offering all manner of sophisticated smells that are not only easy on the eyes and nose but also friendly to the environment. The downside is their cost due to the heavy use of expensive essential oils and the need to buy multiples for larger washrooms. Businesses should also watch out for kit-style diffuser packs which will likely contain synthetic fragrances that are home to all manner of unsafe chemicals. Diffusers are excellent for executive-level offices and design-conscious companies that want to impress visitors no matter the cost.

Finally, you have cold air diffusers.
These are the most sophisticated option available to businesses yet also the most expensive. Much like reed diffusers, cold air diffusers are now becoming a staple of the modern home but are also being seen in greater numbers throughout the office and washroom environment. Nebulisers will atomise the essential oils that are most often added with water. This mixture is then propelled out of the unit, releasing whatever fragrance or essential oil has been chosen. Some of these products can be noisy, though many are designed to operate as quietly as possible. For Woosh these are a real winner, typically getting the best feedback from customers and visitors to our clients’ washrooms.  

Want to know more about air quality and washroom management excellence? Download our BLooprint here:

Flu season… An expensive season for some businesses.

Autumn and winter signals many things: the changing of the seasons, leaves falling off the trees, receding daylight and, of course, Christmas. But the long cold nights also bring with them an increased incidence of cold and flu. Indeed, for many, the move from autumn into winter marks the beginning of ‘cold and flu season’.

Public washrooms are often considered a main offender in the spread of cold and flu. It’s hardly surprising when you consider just how many people use these facilities day to day. They are often cramped, poorly ventilated rooms with little in the way of infection prevention. Thousands of people breath in the same air and make use of the same fixtures – toilet roll holders, sinks, soaps, towels, taps and so on. It seems like only a matter of time before a visitor picks up something. 

According to the Centre for Economic and Business Research, absences from work equate to losses of around £18bn in the UK every single year – and that number looks sets to rise to a staggering £26bn by 2030. 

While the common cold and influenza virus only make up a portion of that figure – minor illnesses accounted for 24.8% of all sickness absences in 2016 – the numbers still demonstrate a need for diligence from both individuals and the people who manage public restrooms.

Cold and flu viruses are mainly spread via coughs and sneezes. Poorly cleaned surfaces also pose a risk, especially when an infected person touches something and hasn’t washed their hands thoroughly. Colds usually go away by the themselves, but flu can be much more serious and is thought to result in the deaths of around 500,000 people worldwide each year. 

Because these viruses are mutating all the time, it’s almost impossible for some to immunise people fully. Vaccines help those that are most vulnerable, but no inoculation is comprehensive to guarantee full protection.

Research has shown that viruses can survive on surfaces for up to 24 hours. This means a person who coughs or splutters in the washroom is highly likely to pass on their illness to another visitor. And, of course, the more people that use a washroom, the more likely it is that an infection will spread. Somewhat alarmingly, medical literature has also revealed that germs spread through the air via hand dryers and toilet flushes. 

Unsurprisingly, in this study bacteria were found in much higher quantities within public washroom environments, with sinks and handles proving the worst offenders. Human immune systems are very good at combating the worst of these nasties but, as Dr Nuala O Connor, GP says “Washing your hands is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself and others from getting sick with vomiting, diarrhoea, coughs, colds, sore throat, flu, in fact almost all infections.”

Thorough hand washing is, and always will be, the first line of defence for fighting cold and flu. There are, however, many things that washroom management provider can do to join the fight. Beyond meticulous and well managed cleaning rotas, owners can install automatic systems to reduce the need for individuals to touch surfaces. 

Enclosed dispensers will also eliminate having to fumble around in search of consumables. Hand hygiene facilities should be made widely available to eliminate infection at source.  

Get in touch with us to see how else we can help turn the tide against cold and flu in your workplace. Or take a look at our range of hygiene products and dispensing solutions here.

Carpets for the environmentally conscious office…

Landlords looking to up the value of their commercial properties should pay close attention to the green factor when choosing an eco-friendly carpet for their offices.

‘Eco-friendly’ is on everyone’s lips these days. Fierce competition among designers and manufacturers has placed carpet design in the forefront of sustainable flooring innovations. Whether it be area rugs, wall-to-wall installations or fully customizable carpet tiles, carpet manufacturers in the UK are putting an emphasis on recycling and natural materials with limited environmental impact, and the beneficiaries of this green endeavor don’t stop at the planet.

Landlords and property agents looking to up the value of their commercial properties and attract carbon-conscious tenants should pay close attention to the green factor when choosing a carpet for their offices.

 

What to look for in an eco-friendly carpet?

 

The most environmentally friendly carpets are made from natural, renewable fibres; this includes organic wool and cotton, jute, bamboo, sisal, seagrass and coir. That being said, looking at the ‘made of’ list doesn’t guarantee a 100% eco-friendly carpet. Indeed, some carpets have been treated with insect and flame repellents that will cause some of the worst (dangerously invisible) off-gassings.

These off-gassings usually come from the carpet backing, so be sure to look for backings that have been sewn or glued using non-toxic adhesives low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs.) Some of the best carpet backings or pads are made from non-synthetic latex, camel hair felt, or untreated wool. A CRI Indoor Air Quality label is what you want.

Tessera loop pile carpet, Forbo

If your carpet isn’t made from sustainable materials, it can still be eco-friendly if it is recycled. Some are made from 100% recycled plastic bottles – you’ll find them under the name of PET carpets, or P.E.T carpets  (polyethylene terephthalate.) Some advantages to PET fibres include stain and abrasion resistance and low moisture absorption. Other rugs are made by recycling old, used carpets, provided they are in suitable condition to be recycled.

 

Who manufactures eco-friendly carpets?

Interface

In 1994, Interface started the first carpet tile recycling initiative. Known as ReEntry, the program now involves separating the carpet from its backing and recycling more product into new Nylon fibre. Interface is also on a ‘Mission Zero’ to completely eliminate the company’s environmental impact by 2020.

On-line, off-line carpet collection, Interface

Desso

Desso’s innovative Take Back™ programme ensures that worn-out carpet tiles are recycled into new carpet products. Defying the cradle to grave model, Desso’s ambitious initiative follows the Cradle to Cradle® approach pioneered by Professor Michael Braungart and architect William McDonough.

In addition to its carpet manufacturing, Desso is committed to reducing its CO2 emissions by increasing its use of green electricity and covering its roof by 25,000 m2 of solar panels.

Take Back™ programme, Desso

Milliken

Specialised in minimising waste during its manufacturing process, Milliken focuses on the use of recycled materials in lieu of petroleum and other oil-based components. Milliken’s eco-friendly carpet uses an ECONYL® nylon yarn made from equal parts post-industrial and post-consumer recycled fibres. In addition, the company uses 90% recycled polyurethane for its Comfort Plus® range of lightweight, carpet tile backing.

Arctic Survey commercial carpet, Milliken

Forbo

Forbo recycles old carpet, fishing nets and plastic bottles to manufacture innovative eco-friendly carpets such as the Coral entrance flooring collection. Forbo’s Tessera tiles contain over 58% recycled content by weight, while their Westbond tiles have a minimum of 70% recycled content in their backing. Forbo’s carpets are also easy to clean thanks to a system called Dry Fusion which requires less water and fewer chemicals to perform.

 


Coral entrance flooring, Forbo

Recycling is one of several other factors to take into consideration when choosing the right flooring for your office. An invaluable tool in the landlord’s toolbox, office flooring is an important decision.

Written by Elissaveta Marinova of Re-public.
Source: Re-public Space Ltd.