Cleaning Professionals Dish the Truth Behind Restroom Cleaning in New Survey

Public restroom maintenance is an important daily task with which most cleaning industry professionals are familiar, since restrooms are a frequently used area in any facility and their upkeep can affect public perceptions. But Clorox Professional Products Co. wanted to uncover what it takes to keep this critical area in top shape from cleaning industry professionals themselves and conducted a survey in cooperation with ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association, to find out about tough jobs in the restroom.
“These survey results underscore some of the restroom cleaning challenges that are often neglected and show that industry professionals may not understand as much as they think they do,” says ISSA sales director Anthony Trombetta. “At ISSA, our goal is to arm our members with the knowledge and educational tools they need to help them perform their jobs optimally, and this survey endeavor with Clorox Professional allows us to gather valuable insights so that we can continue to fulfill that need.”
When it comes to public restrooms, cleaning industry professionals have two important jobs: cleaning for appearance and cleaning for health. Maintaining a visibly clean restroom is important for influencing consumer perception, but harmful microorganisms, such as Shigella, Salmonella, Hepatitis A, E. coli, and norovirus are routinely found in restrooms and are associated with outbreaks of illness.(1-2)
“Maintaining public restrooms is certainly a tough job, but it’s so much more than that,” says Clorox Professional Products Co. associate marketing director Jennifer Case. “Keeping a restroom disinfected can help prevent the spread of illness-causing germs to building occupants and the community at-large, especially during the winter months. Clorox Professional views these survey results as an opportunity for the cleaning industry to see where there may be knowledge gaps among cleaning professionals and address them to ensure more optimal restroom cleaning. We too are committed to helping them fill these gaps through educational tools, resources, and product solutions.”

According to survey results, most cleaning industry professionals (85 percent) are fully aware of the importance of this dual relationship of cleaning for appearance and health. The vast majority (95 percent) also believe that restroom cleaning has an impact on overall public health by helping to prevent the spread of disease.(3) However, this understanding may not trickle down to all employees; only one-half of respondents (49 percent) believe their staff is aware of all the risk associated with the spread of germs in the restroom.(3)

The survey also found that:

One in five respondents (20 percent) believe that the general public may think their facility’s restroom harbors germs.(3)

Most cleaning professionals believe that restroom handles harbor the most illness-causing germs and bacteria, particularly restroom door handles (65 percent), faucet handles (38 percent), and toilet or urinal handles (36 percent).3 However, secondary research shows that this is false and that door handles pose the least risk for germs.(4) The feminine hygiene trash can, which only 12 percent of professionals believe to be germy,(3) has one of the highest concentrations of germs.(5)

“Cleaning for aesthetics” tasks are viewed as tougher than “cleaning for health” (disinfecting) tasks.

Only 29 percent of supervisors reported instructing their staff to disinfect surfaces most often.(3)
Keeping on top of restroom cleaning needs can be demanding, and although only 15 percent of respondents report a lack of education or training as a challenge to performing optimal restroom cleaning, far more (68 percent) say their staff does not understand or only somewhat understands the differences between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting.(3)
When it comes to educational tools, cleaning professionals said the following:
Almost all (94 percent) rely on product usage instructions to train staff, but 43 percent of those think these tools could be improved.(3)
Nine in 10 (90 percent) of cleaning professionals use restroom cleaning protocols or guidelines, but 45 percent believe these tools could be improved.(3)

1. Barker J, Jones MV. The potential spread of infection caused by aerosol contamination of surfaces after flushing a domestic toilet. Journal of Applied Microbiology 99(2005): 339–347.

2. Boone SA, Gerba CP. Significance of Fomites in the Spread of Respiratory and Enteric Viral Disease. Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology 73.6(2007): 1687-1696.

3. Clorox Professional Products Co. and ISSA and ClearVoice Research. (May 2014 and June 2014). Cleaning Industry Professionals Public Restroom Survey. (Survey of 375 cleaning industry professionals).

4. Restroom Germ Myths And Realities Revealed. (2013, June 13). Retrieved from:

5. Kravitz R. Restrooms: Where Are the Germs Really? (2009, Sept. 28). Retrieved from:
ISSA and Ketchum Global Research & Analytics designed and analyzed this online survey of 375 cleaning industry professionals. ClearVoice Research and ISSA fielded the survey from May 15-22, 2014, and from June 12-30, 2014. The survey has a margin of error of +/-4.9 percentage points.
Source: Clorox Professional Products Co.