Woosh Washrooms

Winter Washroom Management

For many, businesses and landlords, winter is often the most challenging season and none more so than for those who are tasked with looking after built assets. Washrooms in particular face the most strain during colder and wetter months, with the increased incidence of cold and flu making them hot (or should that be cold?) beds for the spread germs and bacteria. Heavier rain, ice and dampness also create the perfect conditions for mould and other nasties to spread if facilities are not managed effectively.

It’s not just the spread of bacteria, however, that cause issues for washrooms during winter periods. Heavy rains also allow floors to become sodden trip hazards, and visitors’ footwear can bring in all kinds of debris from the road, especially rock salt that is used in the evenings to reduce the spread of ice on roads and pavements. Without careful maintenance of a washroom facility during winter, organisations can quickly find themselves with a damaged – and not to mention highly dangerous environment to contend with.

Increased humidity and standing water brought in during winter periods can also lead to unpleasant odours in the washroom. For businesses that are regularly bringing in clients and other important people to their offices, this kind of scenario can, as research shows, really put people off an organisation. As our blog on Air Fresheners discussed, it’s a first impression that can be incredibly difficult to change.  

So, what can be done? Luckily, with the right knowledge and understanding all these winter challenges can be solved. Our previous blog on cold and flu season equips organisations with the knowledge they need to fight back against common viruses and bacteria found in bathroom environments (which typically peak during colder weather). Soap dispensers, sanitisers, correct cleaning chemicals, hand towels vs. paper towels – all this and more can be found in the first edition of the BLooprint which is due to be released mid-February.

As for reducing debris and standing water within the washroom environment, it’s often more than simply running a mop over the floor throughout the day. Some of the best equipped washrooms now have specially designed textile and non-textile matting placed at entrances and exits to keep foreign objects out of the bathroom, helping to reduce damage on the flooring and, most importantly, keep the environment more hygienic.

Finally, keeping a washroom smelling fresh and pleasant during winter need not be an added hassle. As our previous blog on air fresheners showed, there are now a range of air care options available to businesses at different price points that not only keep restrooms smelling fragrant but also help to elevate the standard of an organisation’s built assets.

The ‘BLooprint’ – our landmark document for effective washroom management – will show that washrooms are often considered the touchstone of a building, prefacing the entire building experience for visitors. FM ‘guru’ Martin Pickard, a self-confessed toilet obsessive, regards the washroom as the single place which indicates whether or not an organisation has its affairs in order. Of course, getting a washroom clean is one thing; putting a strategy in place, especially during winter months, is another. This is why we’ve created the BLooprint. It gives readers a handy reference for everything washroom management, allowing facilities to shine no matter the weather.

Look out for the ‘BLooprint – Edition 1 The Facilities Manager’s Guide To Effective Washroom Management.’ Chat to one of our Wooshologists if you’d like to get your eyes on a copy today.

If you’d like more advice on best practice during the colder months and the management of your washroom facilities, speak to a Wooshologist on 0203 876 5616 or email hello@wooshwashrooms.com

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.