“The Last Sheet” – there’s nothing worse in the toilet…..

In the commercial washroom environment it is not quite the same as popping down to the local supermarket to choose which toilet paper to buy.  In the supermarket all toilet paper is designed to fit the same delivery system, a domestic toilet roll holder.  In the Commercial washroom space there is a lot more to consider and it is important to consider several factors before deciding which system works best for your business type.

Users – staff, visitors, both? 

Knowing how much paper you will actually use will go a long way into helping decide what system you need.  Your supplier should be able to advise you on how much paper you will use and what sort of stock levels you will need to ensure you never get caught short.  In an office environment the building will use approximately 800m of toilet paper per employee per annum but add onto that visitors and seasonal staff and the number could change.

Cleaning schedules – how often are your toilets checked?

Getting into a cubicle to find no paper is one of the worst scenarios out there, whether at work, visiting a business or venue.  So how often are your toilets checked and how do you ensure that paper never runs out?  Well again advice from your washroom service provider will be invaluable.  It is imperative that the system you install will hold sufficient paper to manage between service or cleaning visits.   It may be a false economy to have a system that someone physically has to check 4 times a day when a better system may only need checked once a da.003

Waste and hidden charges

Many systems if not fit for the location will induce added waste.  Jumbo toilet rolls by their very nature always need to be changed out before they are finished.  This excess paper left on the roll invariably is thrown out or left to fall on the floor and become useless.  Alternatively, systems that don’t restrict usage can cause excess toilet paper being used and subsequently create blockages.


Aesthetically pleasing may not be robust enough to deal with wear and tear associated with high traffic locations.  The decision to have beautifully designed toilet roll holders or chunky stainless steel depends on your business type and your budget. ‘Beauty is in the size of the holder’.

Cost – nothing is for nothing.

Should your supplier offer dispensers for free be very cautious – these have to be paid for somehow and this invariably will be by the paper company who once you have them, you can’t get paper to fit unless you buy the expensive option.

All of that and I haven’t even mention 1ply, 2 ply, 3 ply, super soft, etc.  In the commercial space I would recommend a decent quality 2 ply.  Preferably with either a Nordic Swan or Eco Label certification to ensure that it is sustainably sourced.   In the UK we spend over £1.1billion per annum on toilet paper.   It is a huge market where 99% is flushed down the drain, a sobering thought.


Is the public toilet heading for extinction?

(This weeks Comment from the Closet is from Rannoch Station – one of Scotland’s remotest Public Loos -or is it?)

Every day I get an email which sends me links to any news story that involves toilets, sad I know but I am a toilet expert and I am genuinely interested in keeping up with toilet trends and any toilet associated stories in the news.  However a week does not go by now without there being a story on a local council closing or at least having ‘consultation period’ regarding their current toilet provision.  Just yesterday it was reported that a public toilet in Somerset was sold for £44,000, more than twice the estimate, ‘for development’.  In this example, like many, the onus is being left on community or shopping centers to provide facilities or councils creating charitable trusts to run ‘parks and recreation’ facilities and passing the responsibility to these new charitable trusts.

I am glad to say that occasionally local businesses take up the gauntlet and should you be in Stonehaven buying Fish and Chips at ‘The Bay’ then you will see a great example of a former council toilet now being managed by the local businesses to maintain a facility that ensures young and old will not be put off by a lack of facilities.




I have long been of the opinion that toilets are critical to any community and that with some careful management can be cost effective – this has been proven across Europe with the so called ‘commercial toilet concept’ where private operators are establishing and running profitable commercial toilets.  ‘2 the Loo’ being one such operator that last year opened a commercial toilet operation in Covent Garden but expect many more to spring up.  I am not against commercialising public conveniences, people want clean, hygienic toilet facilities and will pay a reasonable price to use them. I do object to local authorities that would rather see them disappear than a commercial option be at least attempted.

So for all those councillors and ‘ne’er do wells’, here is my free guide to local authorities to help them make their toilets at least cost neutral and in some cases revenue generating.

  1. Location – historically local authorities would want to place toilets in low cost locations. To be a commercial success you have to be where the action is so a location on a High Street or at least main thoroughfare is essential.   This not only increases footfall and awareness but an added benefit is a high profile location decreases the risk of vandalism.
  2. Keep them Clean – Toilets need to be clean and have basics such as soap, toilet paper, warm water, etc. The better the finish the better the perceived value from the paying public.  Local authorities may be loath to ‘spend a penny’ on facilities but the public will and even something as simple as a donation box will generate revenue towards the upkeep.
  3. Ensure access for all – Within the public demographic those that need to go to the toilet in an emergency are at the extremes of the population. Babies need changing, Toddlers and young children can’t always ‘hold it in’ and at the other end of the scale the elderly who may have confidence or bladder issues.   It should be made law that every town center has a Changing Places compliant public toilet. (www.changing-places.org)
  4. Make them fun – create toilets that Children will want to go to. Install a disco ball and a ‘Puff the Magic Dryer’ to make it an experience that demands a family visit when in town.
  5. Involve local businesses – Local businesses want footfall into their stores by getting businesses to refund the toilet cost in exchange for goods you drive custom into their store. With increased footfall you can explore the marketing opportunities within the washroom area.
  6. Finally – Remember it’s a toilet not a new school or a hospital, but any changes to public facilities locally cause a massive hue and cry (usually stirred up by the press). Keep all the stakeholders involved, reinforce the benefits to the community, remind everyone better to pay a little than lose the lot.

So there are my thought.  I am not expecting local authorities to come charging down my door, but it is being done in Europe successfully and there is no reason why we cannot stem the decline of public loos with a little vision, a little investment and a lot of support from the public.

Saving the NHS £1million a year with some foam

Comment from the Closet (at the hospital) – listen for someone knocking on the door

Last week I found myself as an unplanned guest of the NHS in Scotland. The quality of care was fantastic and the improvements in communicating and reinforcing good hand hygiene practice over the last few years have improved immeasurably.

However I was amazed to find that the NHS is still using cartridge liquid soap systems.  Now I can see the positive arguments for using a cartridge system, which is more expensive than bulk fill but in a hospital environment where you need single use dispensers and ease of shifting stock between rooms, bays, wards and wings the cost is probably worth it.


The bit that surprises me is that the hospitals have not moved to a foaming soap delivery method.  ‘Why should they?’ I can almost hear you ask. Well we recommend foaming soap over liquid soap for a variety of reasons so let’s look at them individually.

  1. Cost – foaming soap lasts about 10 times longer than liquid soap depending on the manufacturer’s dosage. The average liquid soap will dispense between 1-3ml of soap per ‘pump’, and even 2 or 3 pumps of liquid soap doses have less volume than one dose of foaming soap.
  2. Efficacy – when washing hands it is important to wet your hands first so that the (liquid) soap is spread easily across the skin. Foaming soap has a much higher liquid content and is much easier to spread over the skin.
  3. Dry Skin – liquid soap is much more concentrated and is more difficult to wash off the skin. By leaving traces of liquid soap on your skin the oils are removed and can cause dry or cracked skin.  Foaming soap is less concentrated and easier to wash off the skin.
  4. Packaging – the current system uses a plastic bladder inside a cardboard box. The box could go or even a supplier being innovative and moving to an even more environmental option
  5. Fun – children love using foaming soap it encourages them to wash their hands!

So why would the NHS not make the change?  Possibly the cost to replace the millions of soap dispensers in the system, although any supplier worth their salt would be happy to bear that cost.

Possibly risk of infection? I can see an argument (albeit a weak one) that the foaming soap is mixed with air to create a foam or mousse, and that there is a hypothetical risk of pathogens being exposed to the soap, but is this risk any higher than pathogens being exposed to liquid soap not being washed off of hands properly?  I think not and both risks are reduced by the use of hand sanitisers in the wards these days.

So this begs the question why does the NHS not make a small change and save potentially millions of pounds instead of washing it down the drain every day in every hospital in the UK?