The Portland Loo

Is this the answer for public toilets | The Toilet Expert

I have written a few times now on the decline of the Great British Public Toilet.   Now let me introduce you to a real contender  for a low maintenance replacement.

The Portland Loo
The Portland Loo

It’s called the Portland Loo because it was created in the City of Portland in Oregon USA.  These public loos are simple and sturdy – indeed it is designed to withstand wind gusts up to 140mph – maybe not a problem in the UK apart from the Scottish Islands.

The design is small and the sink is outside – not inside so people spend less time in there.  There are also angled slats so that the police can monitor who is using the toilet without compromising their privacy.   The toilets are lightweight, made of stainless steel and come with graffiti-proof coating in order to require minimal ongoing maintenance, which all sounds great, but are local authorities prepared to provide clean decent facilities and will people use them?

Certainly the folks of Smithers in British Columbia,Canada were extremely excited to be installing one and it made CBC news on 6 January.   Can you see a public loo installation in Scotland making headline news?  No, me neither!

But maybe the next time your local authority closes down a public convenience and sites maintenance and upkeep as the issue, point them in the direction of a Portland Loo

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Urinal Screens

Are Urinal Screens an own goal or are they quite simply he easiest answer to a smelly problem?

Urinal Goals
Urinal Screen Goal Posts from Prodifa available in Scotland from Caledonia Washrooms

Urinal screens have been around for  long time.  Like most things in this industry once a few players get involved innovation starts to kick in.  The original urinal screen was a hard rigid plastic that was predominantly to minimise chewing gum and cigarette butts (not so long ago) from being washed down the urinal and causing blockages – lets call this US v1.1?

US v1.2 was of a softer material so one size pretty much can fit all when it comes to urinals, but at this stage they also coated the screen with a fragrance.  This was pioneered by Swisher in the US and any other markets that the franchise operated.  US v1.2 had a lot of copycat rivals and this is where the market started to take off.  Fresh Products/Waypoint got involved and launched the P Wave.  They had two unique factors they had found a way to impregnate the ‘plastic’ material to maximise the effect and secured a patent on the amount of fragrance in a urinal mat.  This was 2010/11 I think and in the last 5 years the demand for the urinal mat has grown considerably.

This demand has been driven by end users and really the washroom services industry have missed a trick, although there is some movement now.  Now the reason in part for the washroom service companies not advancing with the urinal screen is that service companies like to sell complicated service equipment at a premium, there is no better example of the multitude of urinal sleeves which will cost the average business 4-6 times the cost of a urinal screen (there may even be installation charges on top).

Now this is a blog not a book and I good fill several chapters on urinals, the issues and the various pluses and minuses of the multitude of systems that are out there (if there are any publishers out there interested drop me a note).  However at this stage let me talk about US v2.1. The market has moved on and now both Waypoint (USA) and Prodifa (France) have launched a screen with not only fragrance but also enzymes/friendly bacteria.  These  impregnated mats release bacteria that eat uric acid, this slows down the calcification and build up of solid materials in the drains – it won’t prevent it happening but it can considerably slow it down.  (At this point I should add a disclaimer tat if you are pouring bleach or any strong acid product down the drain you will neutralise the effect and in doing so wasting your money!).

Both companies have also added a 3D finish (which looks a bit like astroturf) to eliminate splash back, another innovation.  Great, I hear you say but Waypoint have not held back and have launched US v3.1  this is a double sided urinal mat which is now hexagonal instead of round, and so has a snugger fit in smaller urinals, can be fitted either way and also comes in a super long urinal trough version (photo to follow).  This can be interlinked to fir right along urinal troughs, great for schools and sports stadiums.

So back to m question at the start is the simplest solution the best?  Like all things everyone has an opinion, me I wish that Waypoint had made their mats better colours? the orange/mango is a bit garish and would not sit well in a 5 star venue, but the truth is that there is a place for them and the Prodifa goal post idea brings a bit of fun to the toilets (not to mention better accuracy).

I look forward updating this blog once we get feedback fro our customers.


Toilet Twinning

toilet twinning

Toilet Twinning is a fabulous concept

The crux of which is to provide people in the poorest communities on the planet with a decent toilet, clean water and all the information they need to stay healthy.  A stunningly simple way to make a difference.

For just £60, you can twin your toilets at home or at work with a latrine halfway around the world, in a country of your choosing. If you are a bigger organisation then for £240, you can twin with a school block a great gift to or from a nursery or school in the UK?

The secret of it success is that, no matter how small your cludgie (scots for toilet), you can become the proud owner of a personalised certificate, complete with a colour photo of its twin and GPS coordinates so you can look up your twin on Google earth or similar map based software. (note to ed: check if Google support it?)

Your donation is used by Tearfund to provide clean water, basic sanitation, and hygiene education. This vital combination works together to prevent the spread of disease.  This ensures that children are healthier (and able to go to school); parents are well enough to work their land and subsequently grow enough food to feed their family. With better health, and more ability to earn a living, men and women discover the potential that lies within them to bring transformation (Toilet Twinning’s words not mine).

I am aware that some independent washroom service providers (Caledonia Washrooms for sure) support this charity and offer a ‘bolt on’ to a standard washroom contract breaking the one off cost into a monthly payment.

So ask your washroom provider to sort it for you or if you are looking for another small charity to support make Toilet Twinning your No2 Choice!

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!

Christmas Cheer in the Washrooms

Christmas Toilet

So the Bah Humbugs might wish to swap the toilet paper for Holly but here are a few simple things to help get your washrooms feeling a bit christmassy!

  1. Add a little fake snow to the mirrors – either use a template or go freehand it can have a stunning effect if used correctly.
  2. A little bit of tinsel can go a long way.  Use some double sided tape to make a little Christmas decoration around the toilet door symbols for example.
  3. Recycle old Christmas cards. Cut and paste an old Christmas card on the cubicles doors.
  4. Change the toilet door symbols to Mrs Claus and Santa Claus (a favourite of mine).
  5. Change the air freshener to a Christmas fragrance.   If you have an independent washroom company ask them to put in a Christmas smell – Our favourite is Apple and Cinnamon.
  6. Stick a sprig of mistletoe outside the toilet door – you never know who will be passing.
  7. Install a ‘potted’ Pine tree great decoration and pine fragrance.
  8. Smile. Sharing a smile is the best gift you can give and do it every day!

Happy Christmas,

The toilet Fairy

Christmas toilet ideas

So as a business instead of sending Christmas cards and dropping in a few bottles of wine why not do something a bit different this year?

There are a few charity toilet ideas (yes I know you can buy a classroom and a goat, etc. But I am a toilet expert).

Here is my favourites and recommendations

  1. Toilet Twinning.  The great thing about giving a customer a ‘toilet twin’ is that it last all year and every year.  Once a toilet is built then it is theirs as long as it still stands.  Your customer gets a lovely framed print of the actual toilet – the toilet itself gets a plaque so the users know where its come from and you even get the GPS co-ordinates so that you can look at it on google earth.  What’s not to love?  Prices start at £60 for an individual toilet up to £240 for a school toilet block.  What’s not to love? A gift that saves lives. More info here.  (Toilet Twinning)
  2. Oxfam Unwrapped.  The original Charity gift scheme and probably still the biggest. There are 3 ‘hygiene’ options that are suitable.  Again choice is yours and budgets amounts are smaller so you can share the love a bit the costs are as follows and are available online ( here. Or pop into any Oxfam shop – here is a break down of my 3 favourites (but I also love the goat).
    1. A compost toilet costs only £20
    2. Fix a well costs £22
    3. Safe water for a village £50
  3. If you find any more Christmas toilet ideas be sure to let us know!


Wet floors in washrooms

Wet Floors used to be restricted to around the urinal area.  Us boys can be messy creatures, but there are other sources of moisture in the washroom that may need to be addresses  Her are some problems and possible solutions:

P: Wet floors around urinals from high water pressure.  A:Turn the water pressure down or alternatively fit a urinal screen to minimise splashback.

P: Excessive mopping. A: Keeping a washroom clean is excessive but traditional kentucky mops can leave a lot of moisture on the floor.  Have a look at microfibre flat mopping it wll leave the floor 70% dryer than traditional mopping.

P: Leaking pipes around urinals or cisterns.  A: Try to identify where and when the leak occurs then call the plumber!

P: Dyson Airblades.  A: Other high speed dryers are also guilty of transferring water from hands to floor.  If it is an issue you can fit a drip plate  available from or seak to your local washroom supplier about fitting a washroom mat below to catch excess water.

P: Winter weather.  A: If you are getting wet feet into the washrooms ten your entrance matting to the building isn’t doing its job.  Trapping moisture at entry.  Look at increasing entrance matting over the winter months or installing matting at the toilet entrance/exit to minimise risk bot ways.

Too many holes in your toilet walls or cubicles?

Many Public toilets change equipment. whether that is because the old style is obsolete or maybe a change in supplier means a change of equipment (not unusual).  However it can look terrible with parts of rawplugs left in walls or worse holes in toilet cubicle partitions that allow folk to peek right through.

This was an issue for a client of ours last week.  Having looked around we have come up with a simple answer to partially reline the toilet cubicles to hide the various holes left from previous systems.  The colour will match their corporate colour scheme and by completing a ‘band’ around the cubicle including the door we will create a design feature which should blend in perfectly with the branding and the building.  Simple and yet effective.  You can source suitable materials from local sign companies who will make light boxes or external signage from thin lightweight material. It is also an amazing way to add a splash of colour to a drab or plain washroom facility.

Something a little different

I had a great meeting today with a local company – we are going to supply them logo and branded entrance matting for their clients and they are going to supply us with toilet doors. Standard washroom symbols are fairly small as you can see from the image below.
cropped-toilet-symbols.jpgOur plan is to provide a complete toilet door with the image screen printed directly onto the door.  Any door any size. Amazing.  A great part of my job is finding little bits of innovation to make washrooms better and that includes finding them!