Public restroom neglect on the rise

Americans are encountering more unkempt restrooms, triggering negative perceptions of businesses, according to a new study.

February 18, 2016 |

Photo: Bradley Corporation

According to a survey that tracks Americans’ attitudes toward restroom facilities, almost 70% report that they’ve had a particularly unpleasant experience in a public restroom due to the condition of the facilities—a nearly 20% increase since 2012.   

That’s bad news for businesses, since Americans say they judge establishments based on the state of their restrooms. According to the 2016 Healthy Hand Washing Survey, conducted by Bradley Corporation, most consumers believe a bad restroom indicates poor management, lowers their opinion of the company, shows the business doesn’t care about customers, and makes them think the company is lazy or sloppy.

Bradley also delved into what factors makes restrooms so unappealing. Chief restroom grievances include toilets that are clogged or not flushed; a really bad smell; an overall appearance that’s dirty, unkempt, or old; and partition doors that don’t latch closed.

Key restroom improvements Americans would most like to see include improved cleanliness, a completely touchless experience, better stocking of restroom supplies, and a never-ending supply of paper towels—even if there are dryers. 

 

Inforgraphic: Bradley Corporation

 

As for restroom improvements they’ve seen over the past two to three years in specific types of facilities, respondents gave the highest marks to medical buildings, airports, restaurants, and higher education facilities. At the other end of the spectrum, restrooms in convenience stores, gas stations, and truck stops deteriorated the most.

Americans make no secret about their disdain for coming into contact with germs in public restrooms. Restroom entrance door handles, stall handles, and faucet handles are the surfaces that make them the most squeamish. Almost 60% of respondents say they operate the toilet flusher with their foot to avoid germs. More than half use a paper towel to cover the door handle, while others use their back side to open and close doors.

The Healthy Hand Washing Survey queried 1,062 American adults online December 10-13, 2015, about their handwashing habits in public restrooms and concerns about germs, colds, and the flu. Participants were from around the country, were 18 years and older, and were fairly evenly split between men and women (47% and 53%).

 

Inforgraphic: Bradley Corporation

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