Dave Carson from P-Wave says that although washrooms play an essential part in our health, comfort and wellbeing, all too often they fail to reach the required standards; but it doesn’t have to be that way.
The Hollies, and later Simply Red – though we won’t talk about that – had a hit containing the lyric “Sometimes, all I need is the air that I breathe…”. I’ll be honest and admit I’m pretty sure they weren’t talking to about washrooms, but you could be forgiven for thinking they may have been given the unpleasant aromas that envelop all too many of these facilities. Sometimes visitors really are left gasping for breath after taking a ‘comfort’ break.
A facility’s washroom is rarely neglected – and often there will be inspection records or even customer feedback buttons to prove it – but unfortunately they often look and smell like they are a low priority to the buildings management. Even with high specification fixtures and fittings and regular cleaning, the overriding impression can be of an unpleasant pong, making a visit a less than favourable experience.
The power of smell
It is a very subjective topic, but many believe smell to be the most powerful of our senses. Whether that’s true is for better minds than mine to decide, but smell certainly plays an important part in our lives, whether evoking memories or warning of danger. When you are exposed to a bad smell you certainly know about it. This makes getting the washroom experience right vital to the overall impression of your building. Even if facilities are cleaned regularly, a bad smell will give the opposite impression, so the last thing you want to leave people with is a lasting memory of an unpleasant smell.
Given the disproportionate amount of a facilities manager’s time and effort washrooms involve, it’s no wonder that there are many hundreds of products on the market looking to resolve the issue. However, unfortunately many air freshening options just don’t live up to their inventively scented names or last the distance. The right products can beat the smell over a sustained period of time, tackle odour causing bacteria and reduce maintenance issues, such as blocked drains.
Five hints to help tackle nuisance odours
- Air fresheners
Perhaps an obvious option when taking on bad smells, but get the right one and it really will improve the atmosphere in your washrooms. Look for products containing strong, pleasant fragrances that can effectively mask bad odours. These can make an immediate and long-lasting improvement. Users should feel welcomed by the scent rather than repelled by an unpleasant stench. As well as whole room air fresheners, look for washroom specific products like toilet bowl clips and urinal fresheners.
- Everything in its place
The main cause of bad smells in the washroom is bacteria from urine in drains or splashback on the floor. Once the only way to tackle this was to drop a scented blue block into urinals and hope for the best. However, with new products 95% of splash back can be prevented thanks to new protrusions on urinal and trough screens.
This keeps urine off the floor and grouting where it would soak in and cause a bad smell, even with regular cleaning.
- Keep the pipes clear
Debris such as discarded bits of chewing gum or tissue can cause blockages in pipes resulting in slow flowing water or worse blockages and overflows. These can be minimised by choosing urinal or trough screens which can trap this sort of material and stop it getting into the drains.
- Get additional help
It’s not just the cleaners who help reduce the smells in washrooms, products which include the right enzymes – or odour controlling ‘good’ bacteria – can help eliminate malodourous ‘bad’ bacteria which feeds on urine. Cutting out the smell at source in this way is far more effective and environmentally friendly using an array of harsh chemicals.
Reduced chemical use has many advantages, not least from a health and safety point of view as there is less danger of spillage.
- You get what you pay for
It’s easy to think all products are the same, or that it’s not worth investing in washroom products. I think it’s worth paying that bit extra for quality as it can soon bring its rewards. For example, the best urinal screens will combine a strong air freshener, with splash back control and odour tackling enzymes; removing the need to buy separate products. Top quality products can last a month resulting in cost savings in the longer term and reducing the time spent cleaning the washroom and purchasing products.
…And to love you
Washrooms are crucial in maintaining building users’ health and wellbeing, especially through hand washing. However, a bad smell can put people off using them, or staying long enough to wash their hands properly – with the result that germs are more likely to be spread throughout a facility, with a likely impact on sickness and absenteeism.
The second part of the song lyric mentioned earlier is, of course, ‘…and to love you’. Now I’m not saying a better smelling washroom will make your visitors and staff fall in love with you, but by providing hygienic and lasting solutions, you and your building could certainly go up in their estimation!