Anyone who has traveled away from their home for any length of time will eventually have to use a public bathroom and will have a “bathroom story” to tell. I have traveled extensively over the years and yes, I have many bathroom stories to tell. For now, I wanted to share my own bathroom rating system.
Here is how Mike’s 5 – Point Bathroom Rating System works….
Every bathroom being rated starts with 5 points. Each time you are required to touch something with your hands, 1 point is removed. Toilet seats, toilet tissue and privacy door latches do not count. Toilet handles, urinal handles, soap dispensers, towel dispensers & dryers, sink faucet fixtures, garbage cans and exit door handles should not be touched. The goal is to get out of the bathroom cleaner than when you entered!
Urinal/Toilet Handle – (Touch the handle – subtract 1 point) After using the urinal/toilet, dirty hands are used to grasp the handle and flush. Everyone should flush when finished. Your hands may have been pretty clean but once you pull the handle you are completely contaminated. Because this is the first stop before the sink, everyone’s hands are contaminated. The handle is one of the most contaminated objects in the bathroom. Automated, hands-free (motion sensor) fixtures are the best possible solution.
Sink Fixtures – (touch the sink fixture – subtract 1 point) Washing hands is a must. Proper hand washing practice is 20 seconds scrubbing with soap and medium hot water. Touching the fixture after hands are washed defeats the purpose of washing hands. Automated, hands free (motion sensor) fixtures are the best possible solution.
Soap Dispensers – (touch the soap dispenser – subtract 1 point) Bar soap is a bacteria trap and should be avoided in any public restroom. Touching a dispenser to get soap means contaminating yourself even more. If you see a “store bought” soap pump bottle similar to a “Dial” type pump, watch out. Most likely these are being refilled and the outer bottle and pump are filthy. There is also a potential that these refill bottles get contaminated over time. Liquid dispensers with sealed refill bags and an automated, hands free (motion sensor) fixtures are the best possible solution.
Towel Dispenser – (touch the towel dispenser OR electric dryer – subtract 1 point) Paperless bathrooms can be a trap if the exit door opens inward (can anyone say “McDonalds”). Towel dispensers are a blessing but cranking handles or twisting knobs on the dispenser must be avoided or else you contaminate your hands. Automated (motion sensor) dispensers are the best possible solution.
Exit Door Handle – (touch the door and subtract 1 point) Touching the door handle (which IS contaminated) when leaving the bathroom defeats the purpose of hand-washing. It is best to have an open walkway with no door or an automated door to prevent contamination. For those who are designing public spaces, please, at least design the bathroom exit door to push open so we can use our feet and avoid touching the door. As a last resort, using paper towel to protect your hands while grasping the handle is helpful and protects you from being contaminated. Also, the Toeopener allows patrons to use their foot to open a door without using their hands!
As time permits, I will share a few of the worst bathrooms along with some of the best public bathrooms based on my 5- point rating system. The simple truth is that bathrooms that earn 5 points are few and far between BUT there are practical things you can do to prevent exposure. Always bring a paper towel with you into unfamiliar bathrooms. You can use this to dry your hands and open the door if you are trapped!