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Survey reveals five ways Covid changed impressions of public washrooms and facilities
Upon entering the third year of the pandemic, Americans are not only more sensitive to germs in public washrooms, they now hold higher standards for the cleanliness, condition and technology used in these shared spaces, according to the annual Healthy Handwashing Survey from Bradley Corporation conducted in January.
Despite ongoing Covid outbreaks, most Americans have not been deterred from using public bathrooms. In fact, 41% report using them as often as they did before Covid came on the scene. Interestingly, 27% say they use them more now than previously.
“Thanks to the pandemic, more people are paying closer attention to various elements in public restrooms – how clean they are, how easy they are to navigate without touching surfaces and how they can be improved,” notes Jon Dommisse, vice president of marketing & corporate communication for Bradley Corp., a global manufacturer of commercial washroom equipment.
The survey, which has examined the state of US public washrooms and handwashing habits for 13 years, identified key Covid impacts on how public washrooms are viewed – as well as the businesses and establishments that provide them.
Maintenance gets higher marks…
A positive side effect of the virus is that half of the population believes public washrooms are now cleaner and in better condition than before Covid. More men (55%) give a thumbs up to the cleanliness compared with women (47%).
“Prior to Covid, upwards of 70% of Americans reported having an unpleasant restroom experience,” Jon explains. “Evidently, increased cleaning protocols and stocking of supplies is being observed and appreciated by users.”
Further, 79% think a posted and updated cleaning schedule in a washroom is important. “Signage goes a long way in helping to reassure visitors the facility is taking steps to ensure a clean environment and cares about keeping them safe,” he reports.
Unclean washooms tarnish the overall business…
Americans increasingly think poorly of a business when they encounter a messy washoom. In 2022, 51% say an unpleasant public washroom at a business shows poor management, up from 39% in 2021. Respondents also report that encountering neglected washooms lowers their opinion of the establishment (43%) and shows the business doesn’t care about its customers (38%).
High value is placed on touchless washrooms…
Some 84% of Americans believe it’s important for public washooms to be equipped with touchless fixtures and 63% say they are more likely to return to a business that offers no-touch capabilities in its restrooms.
“In fact, Americans view touch-free technology as the number one feature that makes them feel safer from germs in restrooms,” says Jon. “Touchless features are also Americans’ most requested improvement in restrooms. More cleaning/restocking takes second place.”
Which touchless washroom features are considered most important? Respondents cite faucets, soap dispensers, flushers and entrance doors as their top four.
Consumers spend more money at a business with pleasant washrooms…
Americans are willing to put their money behind washroom cleanliness. Almost 60% say they are likely to spend more cash at a business with clean, well-maintained washooms. Another 58% say when out running errands they’ll take breaks at a business they know has ‘good’ washooms.
Coronavirus concerns persist, in general…
The majority continue to be in an elevated state of germ consciousness, triggered by the Coronavirus. While 89% of the general population felt more aware of germs in April 2020, that number has fallen to 78%. Northeasterners currently have the highest level of germ concerns (86%) while Midwesterners have the lowest level (72%).
“Certain types of facilities cause more trepidation about coming into contact with germs,” adds Jon. “Specifically, Americans are most concerned about germs in stores (50%), medical facilities (39%), restaurants (34%) and gas stations (28%).”
The annual Healthy Handwashing Survey from Bradley Corp. queried 1,035 American adults Jan. 10-21, 2022, about their handwashing habits, concerns about the Coronavirus and flu and their use of public washooms. Participants were from around the country and were fairly evenly split between men (46%) and women (54%). For more information, visit:
10th March 2022