5 Questions you should ask before contacting a local washroom service company | The Toilet Expert

It doesn’t happen every day but I am regularly told when discussing washroom needs – “Waste of time, why should I pay someone to do something I don’t need?”

Which is a fair point, as I love to cut my own hair, change the brake pads on my car as well as process my own Kebab meat and bake my own bread – you get the point.

As a business owner I regularly have to use the following flow chart.  It applies as much to washroom services as it does to any product or service your business might need.

Let me look at some of these questions from a Washroom perspective.

Do I need It?

The real answer is dependent on how your local EHO interprets the legislation and guidance.  The guidelines that we tend to work with is whether, as a business, you generate more than 25Kg of ‘offensive’ waste over a 12 month period.   Some authorities use a % of waste: for example if the offensive waste that your business generates is more than 10% of your total generated waste, it must be separated from the general waste stream and disposed of by a registered carrier.  This is certainly the case with Care Homes, children’s nurseries, indoor play centres, family venues, motorway service stations, doctor’s surgeries, dental practices, some beauty therapy centres, etc.

However a greater risk for many small businesses,  especially cafes, restaurants and bars is sanitary waste being flushed down the toilet because of a lack of an appropriate means of disposal.   This can cause blockages and one call out from a plumber is a lot more expensive than a single sanitary bin installed onsite.  For example our sanitary bin service starts as low as £75 per year depending on location,  number of units, service frequency (13 visits included at this price)and type of bin that you are after (Click here to get a quote).  In comparison to a plumber or emergency drain clearage charge it’s a pretty low cost – £1.44 a week approx.

Can I afford it?

I suspect most businesses can.  However larger businesses can offset the cost if they think a little out of the box.

Every business needs to buy toilet paper and soap and either buy hand towels, launder linen towels or buy/rent a hand dryer.  By sourcing these products from your local washroom company there could be considerable time and money savings which invariably would cover the cost of a sanitary bin.  If you have urinals at your business, the installation of a water management system could save £100’s if not £1000’s of pounds which again could offset any washroom costs.

It’s another great reason to go to a local supplier who will not only rely heavily on referrals but also their reputation within the local business community.  A quote is free and if you are unsure, have a look at my washroom services company guide for an alternative opinion.

Do I enjoy doing it?

If we were discussing telesales, social media, delivering orders, cold calling, etc.  I am sure there are aspects of every business that some of us enjoy enthusiastically (I actually enjoy blogging more than servicing sanitary bins believe it or not).

I have yet to find any company that likes or has staff that like dealing with emptying the sanitary bins or cleaning the urinals for that matter.

So why not source out something you don’t enjoy doing to someone who is paid and trained to do it?

Can I do it myself?

If you are a small business then you may be able to do it yourself.  The issue with most businesses is that they invariably run out of something, soap, toilet paper, and then end up buying ‘emergency’ supplies from the local supermarket.  A pump action liquid soap is maybe 3 or 4 times more expensive than a wall mounted foaming soap unit and a foaming soap unit will last 10 times longer which means you will run out less often.

Have I got the time?

If your business is like mine the one thing you don’t have in abundance is time.  Time poor is a common complaint of most business owners.  But if you do have the time and don’t have the money – crack on.  If you have the time but maybe not the money at the moment, stick a note in your diary to review the situation in 3 months’ time.   Then get a couple of local businesses competing for your business. Trust me, the simplest of service options won’t cost the earth.

There you have it.  5 questions you should ask yourself probably for any service or product your business requires but especially for washrooms.

Remember sharing is caring so please like this article shareand mentiontoiletexpert.   Any comments most welcome and if you would like to get a quote for your washroom services just drop me a message

 

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The Holidays are coming – part 2

Christmas is nearly upon us and the toilet or washroom area can be a tricky place to deal with over the festive period – depending on what type of business you have.

In part 2 of this Christmas Blog I will look at the businesses that close down for two weeks or longer over the festive period and some of the things you need to do to ensure that your toilets are clean, fresh and still working when everyone returns to work.

  1. Check your service company schedules.  If you have a service due over Christmas contact your service company explain you will be closed and arrange an alternative date (preferably before you close).
  2. Urinals – if you don’t have water management systems installed – install them. Instead of wasting water down the drain they can be adjusted to flush down once a day. This prevents the u-bend drying out and the drain smells coming back from the sewer
  3. Ensure that the washrooms are cleaned prior to holidays starting and pay special attention to:
    • Toilet bowls. Clean inside and out and leave lid down to prevent evaporation.
    • Waste paper bins. Ensure they are empty: they make great nests for mice.
    • Any leaks are fixed. A small drip could be a torrent after two weeks.
  4. Heating. If you are planning to switch the heating off, drain down the pipes but this is a lot of work.  Much better to keep the heating on low to prevent any pipes freezing should here be a cold snap.
  5. Stocks.  Just make sure you have enough essentials to last the first week back.  Deliveries are notoriously unreliable the first week back after the holidays.

There you have it five easy steps to ensure you have hassle free washrooms before, during and after the Christmas break.

Merry Christmas!

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Making your Washroom Smell like a Rose (or whatever you want)

In my last blog I wrote about the various factors that cause malodours and the difficulties due to the location and materials within the washroom that can hinder the challenge to eradicate the bad smells.

You can imagine my relief when I opened my daily Toilet News to read:  WASHINGTON: Sick of smelly toilets, Microsoft founder Bill Gates has funded the development of an odour-blocking perfume.

Having read the story I think the Bill Gates Foundation could spend their money on something better, but hey, each to their own?

For those of us that don’t have a few billion lying around to eradicate smells, here are my thoughts on fragrances for toilets and some of the options that are out there for the commercial washroom space.   First and foremost, an air freshener, whatever the types work best with clean toilets.  So the less you clean the harder it becomes to hide the smells.

Air purifiers/ozone generators/odour eliminators

The manufacturers of these types of products will be aghast that I have lumped them together. The systems use one or multiple technologies to clean the air – in short destroying the organic particles in the air that cause the smell.  These can be great in high volume traffic areas, but they are expensive. They will reduce certain odours but leave a somewhat sterile smell.

Battery Operated Air Fresheners

The most common solution found in the commercial washroom space. There are far too many options to cover in this blog and I may do a product review page on all the brands I know at some point in the future but the advantage is that they are serviced regularly and a good service company will change the fragrance on every visit so that the toilets have a ‘new’, clean smell.  The fragrances will vary dependent on the service provider’s supplier, as will the quality of the fragrance but also it’s worth checking that the fragrance doesn’t clash with your cleaning products.  If you are using buckets of pine disinfectant to clean your toilets every day – best stick to pine.

Passive Air Fresheners

These are becoming more common, partially due to changes in the waste legislation.  Traditional dispensers have cans and batteries and both must now be accounted for as waste.  Passvie units use neither; they tend to have a bio technology which breaks down naturally over a period of time (A Gel or Oil) and releases fragrance as this process occurs.  It is key to site these dispensers where there is air flow i.e. next to a door or window so that the fragrance circulates but the difficulty is the consistency of fragrance.  These units will dry out quicker and be less effective dependent on the condition, temperature, air flow, etc.

Hybrid

New to the market is an Oxy-Gen fragrance dispenser.  This clever piece of equipment combines battery and passive. So it uses a battery to create a charge which displaces fragrance at regular intervals but relies on natural occurring airflow to circulate the fragrance.  It is a very clever system and the units are about 25% the size of a standard battery operated unit so very discreet.

Seasonal variants

Many independent washroom service companies will install a seasonal fragrance such as spiced apple and cinnamon, or winter berries or even tangerine – all smells associated with Christmas as part of your regular service call.

Whatever your fragrance needs I would recommend that speak to an IWSA member (Independent Washroom Services Association) to discuss what system works best for you, don’t be scared to ask for a 30 day free trial and make sure the fragrances work for you and your toilets!

Smelly Loo’s No More

smelly-toilet

 

The art of a clean smelling toilet starts with the clean.   Identifying the source of a bad smell can sometimes be very obvious, but when deciding on how you want your toilets to smell there are a lot of factors you have to consider.
I will cover some of them here but please, post specific questions if you have them.

A UV or blacklight is a great way to identify areas that are getting missed on the cleaning schedule
A UV or blacklight is a great way to identify areas that are getting missed on the cleaning schedule

Customer profile – male, female, adult, child or all?
Knowing the profile of the people that use your toilets will go a long way towards helping plan on how to keep the toilets smelling fresh. The profile can impact on how often the toilets are cleaned, but the composition of the toilet surfaces will have as much impact.

Age of the toilets
The older the facilities the more likely they are to smell.   Pipes leak, tiles crack, etc and these little things can create the opportunity for damp or algae and these can make toilets smell.

The fabric of the building
Tiles are great, but grout is not and then add in all the other surfaces in the washroom.     Most of these will require a different cleaning product – a toilet uses a more abrasive cleaning agent than a mirror does for example.     Add into this the organic matters that will be present in the washroom and that makes a lot of components that can combine to make a toilet ‘smell’.

The cleaning regime
Most commercial toilets are cleaned once a day.  Admittedly, many businesses now ‘check’ the toilets and have a dandy little signature sheet on the back of the door.  There is no guidance here on how often your toilets need cleaned but common sense should prevail.     I would recommend Delphis Eco cleaning products (www.delphiseco.com).   Personally, the smell of pine disinfectant or bleach fills me with dread and I find these mask smells and perhaps are hiding the issue..  By using a non or light fragranced smelling product you know when you have a problem.

Temperature
Bacteria needs wet, dark and warm.   Many washrooms are wet and dark so by restricting the heat in a toilet you can reduce bacterial growth.  Turn radiators down and keep your toilet temperature a degree or two below your office temperature where possible.

Fix problems
Dripping taps not only waste water but help increase the humidity in a washroom which encourages algae growth.  A broken toilet seat is more difficult to clean. If your office printer was broken you’d get it fixed very quickly – the same should apply to a broken toilet seat.

These ideas are somewhere to start if your toilet is smelly, but if you need more advice just give us a call at Caledonian Washroooms – after all our motto is “If your Toilets Smell, give us a Bell”

 

 

The Humble Toilet Brush

toilet brushes

The flushing toilet was invented by John Harrington in 1596.   However the modern plastic version of the toilet brush was not invented until 1932 by William C. Schopp (source: Wikipedia).

This begs the question how did they clean toilets in the intervening 336 years? Lets not dwell on that, this post may be unpleasant enough.

It would be fair to say that there hasn’t really been much change to the ‘modern’ toilet brush and 99% of brushes sold still use the same design.  However there is a big question that needs to be asked.  How often do you clean or replace it (the toilet brush). Mainland Europe are leading the way in the commercial sector with washroom companies offering toilet brush replacement on a 12 weekly cycle. A waste I hear some of you shout?  yes it possible is, but the cost to wash a sanitise a toilet brush head (both carbon and financial) is probably very similar to the cost to replace new. Replacement frequency like all things depend on use.. If your toilet brush looks like a hedgehog with alopecea, then I suggest you change it. Whether you clean it or replace it depends on you and what you to do. If you have a bespoke or fancy toilet brush holder finding a toilet brush to fit may be an issue and may not be cheap.  And don’t forget to clean and sanitise the very holder you keep your toilet brush in.

toilet brushA personal bug bear of mine is toilet brush holders on the floor of public toilets.  A busy cleaner invariably (not all) mops around the holder  so nit only do you have a dirty toilet brush but a dirty floor where it sits.  Vendor (Netherlands

Vendor wall mounted toilet brush and holder

 

 

 

 

However the toilet brush is evolving and the new generation of brushes are more like cooking spatulas.  Here is the Cool Blade which is you will agree very ‘cool’ as toilet brushes go!

UPDATE: (7/12/15) I have discovered that CoolBlade are crowdfunding to bring the unit to market.  Details here.  So far they have raised over £50,000!

LooBlade_21st century toilet brush
Cool Blade toilet cleaner (brush)

Toilet brushes are not your usual topic of conversation but everyone has an opinion.  They come in all shapes and sizes and prices vary from £1 in Tesco to £579 for a copper ‘Zodiac’ in Harrods.   However the thing we all agree on is the annoyance when the person before you doesn’t bother to use it!

Black (Light) Friday – Identifying Malodours

You would think in an enclosed space like a washroom, identifying where a smell comes from would be easy?  Well not so.  Identifying the source of any bad smell is key to the remedial action needed to resolve the issue. Here is how we do it.

  1. Urinals.  The usual suspect is urinals which are partially blocked or have reduced water flow.  If the water flow is too low then there is no liquid air lock to prevent smells backing up the waste pipe.  The solution is to insert a proper waterless urinal trap and service it regularly OR increase the water flow to ensure that there is an air trap being created. One of these solutions is more environmentally responsible but both work.
  2. Floor drains.  Many washrooms have open drains which may or may not have some form of trap to prevent smells rising from the waste tank or drain.  This needs a bit of expertise to resolve but your local plumber or washroom specialist should be able to resolve by inserting a trap of some description.
  3. Black Light.  You may think that your cleaner is doing a good job but

urine stain black light

black light allows us to use CSI technology to identify bodily fluids – which luckily for us are florescent under certain frequencies of UV light.  By identifying where the uric acid is building up you can ensure that the cleaning schedule is adjusted to minimise the odour causing bacteria.  The way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to use a ‘biological’ washroom cleaner – We recommend Delphis Eco Bio Washroom Cleaner. This will create a barrier that stops the uric acid from clinging to the surface and lets the clever little microbes in the product to eat away at any uric acid crystals leaving a pleasant smell. Black lights can also identify Scorpions and Bed bugs (too much information?).

Air Fresheners are do not resolve odour issues but mask ‘temporary’ odour issues that you get in the washroom area.  Odour neutralisers or citric fragrances work best, in our opinion, but really the fragrance that works best is an individual choice and will only work if the washroom facility is clean functioning properly.  People smells we can do nothing about. If your timing is bad – just find another toilet!