Protecting Commercial Restrooms From Pests

Tackle each area of restroom facilities to maximize pest management efforts.

By Chelle Hartzer, BCE
From the April 2020 Issue

Does your facility have an unidentified odor? There’s a likely chance it’s coming from a restroom. No matter how clean, pleasant, and professional a building appears, a poorly maintained restroom will leave a negative impression. These conditions will also lead to the space potentially harboring pests.

pest management
Facility management teams should work with their pest management service providers to review current sanitation in their restrooms, paying special attention to potential “hot spot” areas. (Photo: Joesboy)

Since restrooms often see heavy usage, these spaces tend to need extra attention when it comes to sanitation. Grimy floors and standing water can attract rodents, cockroaches, and flies, each of which bring their own consequences.

That said, an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is one of the best ways to prevent restroom pests. It takes a proactive and all-inclusive approach to prevention and eliminating the conditions that are conducive. Sanitation is an important part of any IPM program and should be a particular focus in the restroom area. Work with your pest management professional to tighten up your sanitation program and pay attention to the following “hot spot” areas of the restrooms in your facilities.

Maintain Toilets

Unclean toilets can produce odors that attract pests so be sure to monitor stalls, toilet fixtures, and urinals for sanitation issues. Consider installing the following devices to help take some of the burden of daily maintenance off your staff:

Automatic Flushers. Motion detectors that automatically flush toilets after use can reduce buildup and the spread of bacteria through manual contact.

Automatic Cleaners. Automatic cleaners use sanitation solutions to help prevent calcification, rust, stains and bad odors.

This doesn’t negate the need for staff to perform a regular scrubbing with a brush and cleaner by hand. It just means this can be done a bit less often. Don’t forget those hard to reach places under the bowl lids and other tight spaces.

Examine Floors

With consistent foot traffic, the floor can be the dirtiest place in a restroom. If not properly cleaned on a regular basis, floors and drains can generate issues that can cause pest issues and be damaging to your organization.

Additionally, floor drains often produce pungent odors that are caused by the buildup of decaying organic matter. Here are a few of techniques to get rid of sanitation issues related to restroom floors.

Maintenance staff should be mindful when cleaning restrooms with wet mops. Dirty water left behind from mopping can attract pests, and they can use moist mop heads as a breeding ground. It’s important to make sure all water is completely dried, and mops are washed, dried, and hung before storing.

Consider using bio-enzymatic cleaning solutions to break down tough stains and gunk on floors and around drains. These bio-solutions reduce odors and physically break down organic material, eliminating the sanitation issue, and thereby the odors and pest food sources.

Pay attention to standing or stagnant water in and around drains, as it may be a breeding site for pests.

Don’t forget to get into corners and tight spaces around plumbing. Loose tiles and old, broken grout can mean standing water under the floor which can cause issues.

Check Sinks And Faucets

Sinks and faucets are prime locations for the buildup of excess water. Even small amounts of water will attract pests so it’s important to pay close attention to the sink area in your restroom to ensure pests stay out of the picture.

As a precaution, fix any broken sinks and faucets to prevent leaks and seal all cracks and crevices around bathroom fixtures, sinks and plumbing penetrations to prevent pests from taking up shelter in wall voids. This also prevents moisture from getting into those spaces and causing water damage.

Trash and Waste

Trash buildup creates the perfect hiding spot for cockroaches and rodents, who prefer dark, moist and untouched spaces. With that, regularly clean trash cans to help keep these introductions to a minimum, and make sure they are secure with tight-fitting lids. Don’t just take out the trash; clean the bins on a regular basis.

Manage Odors

Masking odors is never enough. Stringent sanitation practices can help eliminate and prevent foul odors by removing their source.

Odor Neutralizers. Odor neutralizers break down odor molecules, eliminating airborne odors. These solutions can be used to reduce odors for indoor and outdoor dumpsters, as well as trash cans.

Restroom Units. Many wall-mounted air freshener units automatically dispense pleasant fragrances. By covering some of the smells, less pests may be attracted to that space. As a result, they provide some odor control and likely fewer pests.

Air Fresheners. While masking agents such as air fresheners are not effective for long-term pest control, they can help minimize unpleasant odors in the short term. Plug-in air fresheners with refillable cartridges can complement ongoing sanitation and odor control efforts.

Work with your pest management professional to identify sanitation issues and implement the restroom maintenance tips above. Clean, pest-free restrooms send the message that you take health and sanitation seriously. Properly caring for your restrooms will help protect your building, occupants, and organization overall.

Hartzer is technical services manager for Orkin. She is a board-certified entomologist and provides technical support and guidance across all Rollins brands in the areas of operations, marketing and training.

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