03 July 2020
Touch free washrooms
With the current pandemic, touch points have been brought into focus as a key area which disease and infection could spread from.
How many germs do touch points in a washroom really carry?
According to several studies into cleanliness in the washroom, there are millions of bacteria spawning all over the place. For example, recent studies show the handle of manual taps having between 1,500 and 6000 bacteria on them. Some studies show even more, with an obvious correlation between how many users washrooms have and how much bacteria there is.
Government’s globally are compelling us to avoid touching our faces, mouths, noses and eyes, as our hands are the largest carriers of bacteria. Whilst this has been due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, it is still just as relevant to all germs; we pick up most germs with our hands.
Relevant to this is the below information by a report compiled by the centres for disease control and prevention. It relates to hand washing and sanitising and shows how much illness could be prevented by doing these simple tasks.
Handwashing can prevent:
- 1 in 3 diarrhoea-related sicknesses
- 1 in 5 respiratory infections, such as a cold or the flu.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of microbes on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Moisture helps bacteria, other infections and germs to grow. Reducing touch points reduces cross-contamination, which slows and prevents the spread of infectious diseases.
Clearly, the ultimate actions to take are:
- Wash our hands
- Reduce touch points in the washroom wherever possible
There are several places we can remove traditional touch points when designing washrooms. The first and most obvious one is to install touch free sensor taps and soap dispensers. There are many designs and options for varying washroom or bathroom applications. Not only do sensor taps stop cross-contamination, they also reduce unnecessary wasted water when taps are left running or intentionally used to flood a washroom for vandalism.
After using the toilet and washing your hands with touch-free fittings, the next hurdle is to get out of the washroom door without touching the door handle. People have come up with many creative ways to open the door without having to touch the handle, but the simplest way to exit the washroom is to have no door at all. This requires careful design to ensure privacy is not compromised.
Using alcohol sanitiser dispensers on entry/exit of washrooms provides a good back up option to reduce cross-contamination on door handles. Automatic soap and sanitiser dispensers are also available in the Dolphin range and are a low-cost way of keeping staff and visitors safe.
As a building owner or someone who is designing and/or constructing a washroom, you can’t necessarily change the habits or actions of every washroom users; but you can make it safer, more hygienic and less likely to spread infection in a number of ways as we’ve mentioned already.
Here is a simple check list to use when evaluating your current or new washroom;
- Are your taps and soap dispensers sensor operated, making them touch free?
- Are you able to provide a ‘no door’ entry/exit solution?
- Where you have a door for entry/exit, are you providing hand sanitiser stations to limit the bacteria on the handles?
- Are there any touchable fittings that you could remove to reduce cross-contamination? For example, Flush plates and handles.
So to answer the question – do you need a touch-free washroom? The real answer is that it depends entirely on how safe and hygienic you want your washroom to be; obviously, a touch-free washroom will be safer and reduce the risk of cross-contamination – but using common sense in your washroom design will eliminate the need for many touch points anyway, for example the doorless entry and exit. So please remember, stay safe, and stay touch free wherever you can.