Often, one of the first impressions students, staff and visitors have of an education institution is the restroom. A clean restroom can signify that the school cares about maintenance and the health of its occupants.

Clean School Perceptions (with Related Video)

Sept. 1, 2012
Appearance is everything when it comes to school and university restroom facilities.

When focusing on public restroom sanitation, a facility manager needs to take into account several key factors. The No. 1 priority should be the safety of the people using the restrooms every day.

Education institutions should make sure they are using chemicals that are not only effective, but also environmentally friendly; they should provide ongoing training to staff and use effective cleaning protocols.

Choosing Products

Effective disinfectants can cover a wide range of surfaces and eliminate many potential harmful diseases and germs. Schools should be sure to check the efficacy of the chemicals they are using to ensure they comply with OSHA standards for bloodborne pathogens.

When researching pricing for safe, cost-effective products, schools need to ask about dilution ratios and compare them with other products. Check with at least three or four reputable distributors and have staff members test samples to determine which product works best for each facility.

Training Essentials

When schools begin training employees in restroom cleaning, mapping out tasks on a training card is a great way to start. Training cards should list all of the key touch points to focus on each time a restroom is cleaned.

Train all employees on the same steps based on the program to ensure they follow them every time they clean. Have them review the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the specifics of each product they use, and store all MSDS sheets in a binder.

Use a checklist during each training session that indicates the group has discussed the MSDS sheets and binder location. When taking on the role of trainer for custodial employees, it's important to explain the vital role a custodian plays in preventing disease and improving the health of building occupants. Let employees know that taking extra care can make a big difference for the people they routinely work with. This insight can affect their overall thinking and make them want to raise the bar in their daily cleaning.

A clean facility often can positively affect employee attendance and help reduce costs associated with absence. In a school setting, student attendance affects funding. Helping kids' maintain their health benefits children and learning, as well as school budgets.

During training, discuss the importance of dwell time of disinfectants on surfaces, and emphasize the importance of eliminating germs and viruses. Patience is key. If there is a set process and steps are completed, speed and cleanliness will follow. Public health should not be compromised by taking shortcuts in restroom cleaning, and dwell time is an essential part of reaching the goal of a clean and sanitary restroom.

Another step in maintaining sanitary restrooms is to make sure employees are not cross-contaminating. Make it mandatory for custodians to use more microfibers and to avoid using the same ones to wipe both a contaminated surface and a clean one.

Training employees to complete the steps of cleaning consistently and in sequence will increase their speed and efficiency. Several cleaning methods are available, including the Process Cleaning for Healthy Schools program.

Cleaning for Health

After gaining a basic understanding of which products to use and the fundamental do's and don'ts of the restroom cleaning process, the cleaning staff should review the basic process of maintaining a restroom:

  • First flush all toilets in the restrooms.

  • Pump chemical on all sinks, toilets, fixtures and floor areas around toilets to immediately start dwell time contact. Then, dip a clean microfiber cloth into a bucket of non-contaminated chemical. Start at the door by wiping the door handle and all areas where hands have had contact with the door.

    You do not re-submerge this cloth into the bucket for any reason once it is put into use. This is considered a clean bucket.

    Move along the wall toward the sink area, spot-cleaning the wall as needed. Clean sinks and faucet handles and any counter areas.

  • Submerge a new cloth and start with restroom partitions. On the doors, hit the top ledge, side ledge and contact points around handles on both sides. On the inside of each stall, wipe the outside of dispensers and flush handles.

    Repeat through the restroom until you return to the starting point of the main door, making a full circle of the restroom.

  • Take a new cloth and wipe down toilets. Spray a glass cleaner on a microfiber cloth to clean mirrors and chrome fixtures on all of the sink faucets and dispensers. This will add a shiny effect to the clean, disinfected restroom.

  • Clean restroom floors according to the current process.

First Impressions

Producing outstanding restrooms is an obtainable goal in school facilities.

First, find the right product and shop around for best pricing. Then find a cleaning program that will provide custodial staff with high-quality training that makes sense. Boost morale with employees by incorporating how important their work is to the overall health of the building occupants in the facility and how they make a difference every day.

Public perception is important in how a school is viewed. If restrooms are dirty, visitors will likely think that the rest of the facility also is unhygienic. Remember, first impressions are everything, and these first impressions usually result from appearance and cleanliness.

Blumenthal is vice president of the non-profit Process Cleaning for Healthy Schools (PCHS) Consortium , and the custodial supervisor for Douglas County School District in Nevada. He can be reached at [email protected].

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