If you operate a small business, you will want to keep the restrooms sanitary so that they will be safe for you, your employees, and customers or clients to use. There are a number of pathogens that can be spread in restrooms, so you will need to know what cleaners are effective against them.
Pathogens Found in Restrooms
Staphylococcus is commonly found in public restrooms. While the worst it can do externally is trigger a minor skin infection, if it gets into your bloodstream, it can cause significant medical problems. MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a form of staph infection that is resistant to regular antibiotics, and this can be found in public places, particularly on floors. This can be problematic because some people use their feet to push down the toilet handles and deposit floor germs on to those, as well.
Other pathogens that can be spread on restroom surfaces are:
- various bacterias that cause gastro-intestinal illnesses and colds,
- streptococcus, a bacteria that causes strep throat and meningitis,
- E coli, a bacteria that can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections, and respiratory illnesses, and
- viruses such as norovirus which causes diarrhea and vomiting and hepatitis A which can cause acute but self-limiting liver infections.
Cleaning Products to Use
You may have a professional cleaning service coming in after business hours on certain days, but this information can help you to keep things clean and sanitized between times. When you purchase a cleaning product for the restrooms, it should be
- an EPA registered product,
- approved for effectiveness against the influenza A virus, and
- be labeled both a cleaner and a disinfectant.
You need to read the directions carefully to use the product when disinfecting, and you may need to leave the product on the surface for a period of time. Use gloves to protect your skin, plus a face mask to protect mucus membranes, and eye protection if directed to do so.
In a pinch, you can make a disinfecting solution of water and bleach or use bleach disinfecting wipes. The ratio of bleach solution for cleaning restrooms should be 1/2 cup of concentrated 8.25% chlorine bleach to a gallon of water. This solution will need to spread with a cloth and allowed to rest on the surfaces for several minutes before you rinse or wipe it off.
More Tips and Reminders
Please note these things:
- You should never mix bleach solutions/products with any products that contain ammonia because this combination can produce toxic fumes. Ammonia is a common ingredient in window/glass cleaners.
- You should check the label on any bleach you purchase to make sure the manufacturer says it is effective for use as a disinfectant; it will contain sodium hypochlorite as its active ingredient.
- Homemade bleach solutions degrade quickly, so make a fresh solution for cleaning/disinfecting.
- Bleach solution kills pathogens on contact but then evaporates soon after, and a surface can become contaminated again.
- Some people use vinegar, baking soda, or ammonia solutions for cleaning. However, these do not kill staph and other common pathogens.
- If your restrooms have heavy traffic, you may want to purchase disinfectants that are used in health care settings because they have a prolonged bactericidal effect. These contain sodium dichlorisocyanurate, chloramine-T and/or demand-release chlorine dioxide.
For more information, contact People's Maintenance Company or a similar organization.