Caring About Washroom Cleanliness
By Angela Altass
“Offering clean washrooms is a tangible way of showing we care for and respect our valued customers,” says Sarah Peiser, manager of Irving Oil’s Really Clean Washrooms program. “Working with our partners and dealers, we take pride in offering a really clean washroom experience, which is why we’ve been committed to our 30-minute spot checks for years. Our pride in washrooms is not new. Interestingly, we were one of the first gas retailers in Canada to install female washrooms many, many years ago.”
Irving runs a Really Clean Washroom contest every year asking their customers to scan QR codes located at their locations to tell them their opinion of the washrooms for a chance to win $10,000 towards a home bathroom renovation or a $50 Irving gift card.
When asked if having clean, well-maintained washrooms is important, Peiser replies: “Yes, absolutely. We know it is! We’ve asked our customers and the public for feedback on this subject across the geographies we serve in Canada and the U.S. and the numbers speak for themselves. Nearly 75 per cent of respondents reported that spotlessly clean washrooms are important to drivers on their decision to stop at a certain gas station. Respondents also shared that they perceive the cleanliness of washrooms to be an indication of the overall sanitation of the convenience store.”
Irving Oil has received 15,000 pieces of feedback since launching the contest in 2021, with around 80 per cent of that feedback being complimentary, says Peiser.
“It’s great to see that people are engaged in this contest and we appreciate every piece of feedback that we receive and the time it takes to send it in,” says Peiser. “We especially appreciate hearing about our customers’ concerns so that we can address them immediately. We know that really clean washrooms are important to our customers and that clean washrooms have a significant impact on where the public decides to stop and fill up while on the road.”
Cintas runs a Canada’s Best Restroom contest each year that gives $2,500 in Cintas products and services to the winner. In 2022, Majesty and Friends in Edmonton, Alberta won the contest.
Nominees for the contest were judged on five criteria: Cleanliness, visual appeal, innovation, functionality, and unique design elements. Online voting was open to the public from June 6 to July 8.
“We’re so honoured to win the coveted title of Canada’s Best Restroom,” says Julie Morrison, owner, Majesty and Friends. “Our restroom is absolutely amazing and a must see.”
Niton Junction Petro-Canada was a finalist in the contest and has charming washrooms featuring touchless amenities, crystal lights to provide an elegant ambiance, and fully enclosed stalls, each decorated with a different wall tile, says Candice Raynsford, marketing manager, Cintas Canada.
Cintas recently launched a new line of restroom dispensers: The Branch & Vine collection, including soap and lotion dispensers, air fresheners, toilet tissue and paper towel dispensers, trash bins, and theft-deterrent bottles.
“Branch & Vine is a great option for convenience store washrooms that do not have a lot of counter or wall space for large commercial dispensers,” says Raynsford. “They can also help elevate a patron’s washroom experience at a rest stop or gas station. Through the Canada’s Best Restroom contest, we have seen numerous gas stations that have renovated their facilities with luxurious details to create a warm and comfortable washroom for their guests.”
With the heightened awareness of the importance of proper hygiene and technology used in washrooms, Cintas anticipates seeing more businesses revamping their facilities and an increase in nominations for the 2023 contest, says Raynsford.
“For customers, the state of a washroom presents an indication of how other areas of the establishment are maintained,” says Raynsford. “With heightened attention to facility cleanliness throughout the pandemic, providing a clean, well-maintained washroom is more important than ever in protecting a business’ reputation.”
Raynsford advises developing a restroom maintenance program that meets the specific needs of your business.
“Then, based on the program, implement a daily cleaning schedule to keep employees on track throughout the day,” says Raynsford. “It is important to always have inventory on hand to keep the washroom looking and smelling good while in use. Select cleaning chemicals designed specifically for washroom surfaces. Store owners may consider a chemical dispensing system that provides properly diluted chemicals with the push of a button. Microfiber mops and wipes are great for removing soil, dust, germs, and spills.”
At various times throughout the day, especially during peak traffic periods, washrooms should be spot cleaned, says Raynsfold.
“This is a five-minute process that includes sweeping, wiping down surfaces, and restocking products,” says Raynsford. “Once daily, during low traffic periods, perform a comprehensive cleaning routine. Attendants should close the washrooms to visitors and allow the chemicals the appropriate dwell time for thorough disinfection. It is a good idea to schedule a routine deep cleaning, which breaks down soil and removes build-up in areas that mops and brushes cannot reach. This can be done when the business is closed to avoid disruption of service or it can be outsourced and performed during business hours, which we are seeing more of as it instills confidence that the facility is kept clean.”
Business owners should consider upgrading washroom fixtures and dispensers to hands-free options, says Raynsford.
“These upgrades offer numerous benefits to the business and customers,” says Raynsford. “They are easy to use, help reduce the spread of germs, conserve energy, and reduce water consumption, which saves the business money. Reducing as many touchpoints as possible is helpful in limiting the spread of bacteria and putting patrons’ minds at ease.”
The pandemic brought about a deeper understanding of the importance of hygiene and keeping hands and surfaces clean, says Salome Giao, lead claims and performance manager, Dyson. A global hand hygiene survey conducted by Dyson in the summer of 2021 found that public washroom concerns remain high with respondents globally. Sixty-five per cent of respondents said they were more concerned about visiting public washrooms than they were the previous year.
“People are aware of the cleanliness of commercial washrooms and have high expectations,” says Giao. “In Dyson’s global washroom study, respondents said their top five frustrations with public washrooms are: Lack of toilet paper, unclean toilets, no soap, empty paper towel dispensers, overflowing bins, and blocked toilets.”
People might have high standards for cleaning and want touch-free options for things like soap and water dispensers as well as fully stocked washrooms with no empty paper dispensers, says Giao, noting that Dyson Airblade hand dryers are engineered for high traffic environments and are designed to reduce operating costs, reduce waste, and help reduce a washroom’s carbon footprint.
“A trend that we have noticed is consumers’ desires to be more sustainability focused in their own lives is now trickling into how they interact with companies,” says Giao. “In our 2021 survey, 75 per cent of respondents expressed concern about the associated impact of single-use products, such as disposable cups and paper towels.”