By Giorgia Giove
One of most important day-to-day responsibilities in any facility, from hotels to restaurants to schools, is proper and consistent restroom care. Especially at the peak of the pandemic, many people avoided public restrooms altogether because of potential health hazards like high aerosol concentrations and an abundance of high-touch surfaces. In fact, in an October 2020 survey, more than a third (36%) of Americans reported planning shorter shopping trips just to avoid using public restrooms.
Now that customers are increasingly using public facilities and their restrooms, it is a critical time for businesses to assess their approach to restroom care. Numerous factors contribute to restroom care, including cleaning and disinfecting, air quality and ventilation, and other maintenance tasks. But it is worth focusing on another aspect that is key to customer safety and satisfaction, as well as sustainability and brand reputation: the role of quality hand hygiene solutions.
Promoting Health and Safety
Restrooms naturally present cleanliness challenges. A 2020 survey of facilities professionals found that more than two in five (42%) say the restroom is the most problematic area to maintain in their facility. Restrooms often occupy the smallest square footage in a facility, and yet they represent the biggest opportunity—or risk— for businesses. A focus on restroom care is key to protect the health and safety of occupants.
First, consider the simple fact that clean, dry hands spread germs less easily that dirty, wet ones. This underscores the importance of providing quality hand-drying solutions alongside sinks and soap dispensers. Multiple studies reinforce that paper towels are a more hygienic hand-drying method than jet air dryers, because jet air dryers can disperse bacteria and other pathogens widely through the air. Thus, even if your facility has air dryers, you may want to give customers the option to dry their hands with paper towels so they don’t skip this important step.
In addition to stocking high-quality paper towels, one extra step managers can take to promote health and safety is to install door tissue dispensers near exits. This helps people avoid touching the door handle or other high-touch surfaces as they exit the restroom and can reduce the likelihood of surface transmission. Finally, touchless features like automated soap dispensers can also reduce the spread of pathogens and further encourage hand hygiene.
Improving Customer Satisfaction
Carefully chosen hand hygiene solutions go beyond upholding health and safety; they can enhance the guest experience. Recent research highlights the impact that touchless restroom features can have. A survey conducted by the Harris Poll in April 2021 found 60% of Americans say automated paper towel dispensers in public restrooms would improve their perception of a facility’s cleanliness, and 65% say automated faucets would do the same. Nearly half of respondents (44%) say door tissue dispensers would improve their perception of a facility’s cleanliness. The key takeaway is that touchless hand hygiene solutions in a restroom can impact the perceptions of the organizations as a whole—in other words, these features matter beyond the four walls of the restroom.
Choosing paper towels over jet air dryers also influences customer satisfaction. Another survey conducted by the Harris Poll showed nearly 70% of Americans prefer to use paper towels over air dryers in public restrooms. With expectations around hygiene and cleanliness at a high in the wake of the pandemic, facilities need to be extra cautious about which hand hygiene essentials they make available. Those that use paper towels over (or in addition to) air dryers are not only supporting occupant health and safety, but they are also fulfilling the preferences of most restroom users.
Supporting Waste Reduction
Landfill waste is a significant harm to the planet and a contributor to the climate crisis—its decomposition emits millions of tons of carbon dioxide and methane each year. Paper, including paper towels, makes up a considerable portion of landfill waste. In the United States, paper and paperboard constituted 25% of all municipal solid waste (MSW) in 2017, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
High-quality hand hygiene solutions can greatly influence waste generation. In turn, this impacts the frequency at which employees need to service restrooms to empty waste bins and restock paper. Choosing paper towels that can absorb more per sheet can help facilities reduce paper waste. In addition, research shows that nearly three in five Americans (57%) feel paper towel dispensers waste more product than necessary. Facilities can install dispensers that allow them to customize the length of each paper towel. Offering shorter yet more absorbent paper towels encourages thorough hand-drying with less paper.
Hand Hygiene Solutions Matter
Organizations can accomplish more than they may think by meticulously choosing the best hand hygiene solutions to fit their restrooms. Operations can support the health and safety of building occupants and improve customer satisfaction by making paper towels available for hand drying and installing touchless solutions. In addition, absorbent paper towels can help minimize waste and simplify restroom maintenance. These numerous benefits add up to an improved customer and employee experience while also supporting brand reputation and the bottom line.
Giove is Marketing Manager for Sofidel, a world leader in the manufacture of paper for hygienic and domestic use. For more information about sustainable hygiene solutions from Sofidel’s Papernet brand, visit www.papernet.com/americas.