Washroom Maintenance: Minimising the Costs
We’ve written before on the subject of washroom maintenance and how it can affect perceptions of a brand. Maintaining a clean, safe, well-ordered environment is vital to creating a good first impression but, as any building manager knows, it comes at a cost. In this article, we’ll consider how good room design and certain product choices can help to keep those costs to a minimum.
Repair and Replacement Costs
One of the most obvious costs associated with washroom maintenance is the cost of general repairs and the replacement of broken fittings. In other articles, we’ve talked about the value of specifying robust designs and hardwearing materials. That still holds true, of course: materials such as stainless steel will readily withstand the rigours of regular cleaning, they won’t rust, and they are strong enough to resist all the knocks and scratches typically encountered in a highly trafficked washroom.
However, the risks of accidental damage can be further reduced by intelligent placement – away from doorways and other bottleneck areas, for example. Better yet, dispensers can be recessed and/or set above basins so that they are out of the path that visitors will ordinarily take through the bathroom.
One of the best examples of this style of fitting is the category of ‘behind-the-mirror’ units. Here, one or more dispensers are positioned above individual basins and concealed behind a mirror. The mere fact that they are set back above a basin means that they will not typically be subject to accidental knocks, and that alone should help to reduce the risks of damage. Additionally, of course, the mirror itself acts to protect mechanisms from damage or deliberate interference.
Cleaning Costs and Safety
Intelligent placement of dispensers can also play an important role in minimising the need for regular cleaning; particularly the cleaning and drying of floors that might otherwise be subject to drips and splashes. Reducing the need for frequent room inspections and cleaning will inevitably help to reduce labour costs.
Wet floors are an obvious slip hazard, and washroom designs that situate hand dryers some distance from basins are inviting drips from wet hands. The nearer together the two can be placed, the less of a problem it creates.
In this respect, behind-the-mirror designs afford another important benefit. Typically, the cabinet behind the mirror will have room for more than one dispenser or device – e.g. a liquid soap dispenser plus either an electric hand dryer or a paper towel dispenser. Having all this in one place, directly above the basin, means that there should be little or no opportunity for the floor to get wet. Users can wash and dry their hands without moving from the spot.
Replenishing Consumables: Time and Cost
The use of self-contained cabinets affords a further advantage. In these behind-the-mirror cabinets, there is also room for supplies of consumables, such as spare soap and paper towels. This makes servicing quick and easy because all the necessary materials are already there, ready to be fitted, rather than requiring a journey to a separate storeroom or locked cupboard.
Avoiding Closures and Refits
Washroom refits can sometimes be required as a result of damage, expansion or regulatory changes. Such work can incur particularly high costs, so it’s important to make washroom designs as future-proof as possible.
In recent years, building owners have had to respond to numerous regulatory changes, as well as social pressures. Examples have included measures to deliver greater privacy and wellbeing, the provision of unisex/gender-neutral washrooms, and the introduction of baby-changing facilities in male toilets.
Such demands can’t always be easily anticipated, but the use of modular systems can certainly help to maintain a room’s adaptability and scalability. Making each basin its own self-contained wash station, complete with washing and drying facilities, enables building managers to plan layouts more effectively, and to run fewer risks of creating bottlenecks or awkward traffic flows. Similarly, the compact nature of these wash-stations typically means that proportionally more of them can be added into the room’s floorplan, without demanding a complete re-design of the room.
Appearance and Styling
A less common cause of washroom closures and refitting is that of corporate restyling. Companies might change their brands or colour schemes, or a building might fall into new ownership and, thus, the facilities manager might be tasked with updating the washroom’s appearance. Changing the style or colour of washroom dispensers might be part of this process.
However, dispensers that are concealed behind a mirror will normally escape such concerns. Mirrors are considered largely ‘neutral’ in terms of style, brand and colour; they are generally sleek and simple, so the equipment hidden behind them should not need any such expensive update or replacement.
Read more about how you can maximise space in commercial washrooms here.
Balancing Waste and Utility Costs
We noted earlier that some behind-the-mirror units can comprise both a soap dispenser and a drying facility – either an electric hand dryer or a paper towel dispenser. Installing an electric hand dryer over each basin has the advantage that it renders a large waste-bin unnecessary. That, in turn, frees floor space and helps to reduce the costs associated with staff having to check and empty bins on a regular basis. It also obviates the likelihood of queues developing around shared hand dryers or bins, so it helps to reduce Covid transmission risks, too.
An electric dryer may therefore be a better choice when designing a new washroom or when expanding a room that is already wired for existing dryers. However, where such wiring is not present, paper towels represent an option that can be installed more quickly and cheaply. In short, paper may deliver shorter term savings, but when labour costs are factored in, the electric option may deliver better results overall. Browse our full range of behind the mirror wash stations.
Different products offer different benefits but, ultimately, the greatest cost savings will generally result from adopting an intelligent washroom design. To help with this, we have produced The Dudley Industries Washroom Guide, which provides product specification advice for different washroom environments.
Commercial Washroom Solutions
Dudley Industries manufacturers a range of a robust, space-saving products for commercial and public washrooms. Find out more from our Washroom Solutions brochure here or alternatively speak to a member of the team today to find out more about how you can minimise costs in a commercial washroom space.