Mental Illness and Restroom Behavior

Over the last couple of years we have experienced a cleaning problem which is becoming more prevalent. It is an irrational behavior among people who are mysophobic (germophobic). This particular behavior does nothing to minimize the spread of germs (it actually worsens the situation); yet, it creates a very frustrating experience for the person who has to clean it up.

The Behavior

The hand soap is spread in a thin layer all over the sink and in may cases the counter tops in the restroom hand wash area. This layer dries and becomes invisible; that is, until you try to clean it.

The Resulting Cleaning Problem

When you put soap on your hands and add a little water, it get sudsy. This is exactly what happens when the cleaner begins to wipe down this restroom surface. It creates the following frustrations for cleaning personnel.

  • The first frustration is that you cannot see the film of soap; so, when you proceed to clean, with what you think will be a simple one wipe situation, you are presented with the opposite.
  • The second frustration is that the more water you add, the soapier and sudsier the situation becomes. As your cleaning cloth becomes saturated with soap and suds the third frustration arises.
  • You must repeatedly rinse your cloth as it becomes saturated with suds. Doing this over and over again and again takes an inordinate amount of time; especially, compared to the single wipe that it takes when there is NO soap on the sink or counter top.
  • Lastly, as cleaning professionals we cannot ignore spending all of the time that it takes to remove the soap residue because the surface cannot be sanitized unless the surface is clean and all of the soap has been removed.

A Suggested Solution

Firstly, I urge all mental health professionals, who have clients with this type of malady, to get very specific with defining behaviors their clients participate in that are of this nature.
Secondly, I would suggest that you recommend to your clients that they carry sanitizing wipes. Instead of spreading soap all over the restroom surfaces, suggest that your client wipe down the sink and counter top with the sanitizing wipe. This action would in fact have the benefit that the person desires and not create havoc for cleaning service personnel.

Cleaning Service Results-by the Numbers

There is no correlation between the visual appearance of a surface and its level of cleanliness.  Surfaces that may appear clean can be laden with bacteria. When it comes to cleaning service results, the only way to determine how clean a surface might be is to conduct tests that count the bacteria.

The cleaning methods of Washroom Wizard! have been subjected to such tests.  The results of these tests in one of our client locations are below.  How many other cleaning services do you know of that conduct such tests; and then publish them?

Excerpt from letter to client regarding cleaning service results

The psychology of habit and its impact on cleaning results

…it is best to have a washroom specialist who only cleans restrooms.  This ensures a uniform and high standard.

Source: Services Magazine of the Building Service Contractors Association, March 2005, article by Bill Garland, Daniels Associates, Inc.

When I started this business I had defined my market as independently owned businesses that relied upon their employees for all of the cleaning functions.  Having worked for these types of small businesses, it had been my experience that employees did not mind cleaning their work areas but they did mind the prospect of cleaning a restroom that other workers had used.

My concept of market began to change one day when I was out making sales calls.  Continue reading