Floor drains, whether they be in public restrooms, kitchens or any other place throughout a commercial environment, are often overlooked despite being unpleasant harbors for creepy crawlies and bacteria that are just waiting for humans to enter and for the microbe show to begin. Contact with human skin initiates a double feature horror fest representing both the movie and the popcorn, and what lurks under out of sight below that floor drain can make that shower scene in Psycho look like a “mere bag of shells,” as Jackie Gleason used to say.
Most business owners and managers clean their bathroom surfaces and toilets on a regular basis, knowing they are nesting grounds for many germs. The question of the day, however, is do they pay close attention to their bathroom floor drains and the answer is ‘not always.’ This can cause a host of unpleasant problems that will freak customers out and forever turn them away just as quickly as a filthy bathroom toilet would.
While our restroom hygiene services are focused on helping a significant volume of businesses throughout Greater Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania, Cleveland and the West Virginia panhandle, any business owner or facility manager regardless of your location (this country or abroad), should take heed of the following filthy facts, and more importantly how to rectify them.
How Dirty Are Public Restrooms? Studies, Statistics & Germs Facts
An entire field of science concerning the understanding of bathroom bacteria developed in the 1960s. Resulting studies were disturbing, revealing disgusting facts like failure to close the toilet lid while flushing can cause bacteria to travel up to six feet through the air (and even onto a toothbrush) and that diverse species of bacteria are everywhere in the bathroom depending on wet or dry environments.
In 2011, a study was conducted by Gilberto Flores, his mentor, Noah Fierer and colleagues, post doctorates Scott Bates and Christian Lauber from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science, University of Colorado in the city of Boulder. They discovered among other things, that there were literally thousands of species of bacteria in the twelve bathrooms they surveyed, and their quantities surpassed the total number of bird species in North America!
Their sampling process was simple and involved swabbing a variety of bathroom locations including: door handles, soap dispensers, toilet seats, toilet flush handles, the floor drain and others. Using genetic techniques and a type of molecular microscope, this study, which was the first of its kind, revealed which bacterial species were present but invisible to the naked eye in restrooms. There were three separate groups, whose presence corresponded to how they found their way into the bathroom; gut, skin and shoe species.
Those connected with human guts or feces were prevalent on toilet flush handles and toilet seats where they were either sprayed with flushing or transferred on hands. Door handles retained those species associated with human skin and those on the floor were highly diverse, revealing to Flores and his colleagues that our bathrooms are another as yet vast, unexplored frontier when it comes to understanding the bacteria that live there.
Why You Need To Take Workplace Restroom Hygiene Seriously
Whether it is a restaurant, retail store, doctor’s office, hotel, fitness center or showroom, the success of any kind of business that interfaces with the public will be determined by a customer’s first impression. A first time service experience may well be the last if a public restroom smells or is unsightly or both.
A clean bathroom encourages positive feelings about surroundings because the cleanliness of a company restroom is always equated with the hygiene of an entire enterprise and justly so. (If the powers-that-be aren’t concerned about their bathrooms, how could they possibly care about their clients and employees?)
According to a fairly recent study conducted by CleanLink, a leading website for the cleaning industry, 86% of adults in the United States equated the condition of a restaurant’s bathroom with the condition of its kitchen, and 75% of American adults stated they would not return to a restaurant where the bathroom was dirty. Reputations are hard earned but they are also as fragile as precious porcelain in the sense that all it takes is one bad Internet review to discourage customers from servicing your business, whatever it may be.
Understanding The Importance Of Commercial Floor Drains
Public restrooms, kitchens and other areas cannot exist without floor drains. They draw away excess moisture and when drains are dirty, they cannot do their job effectively. They can clog and back up, which translates into dirty, bacteria-laden water flooding the bathroom. These drains are traps for a host of nasty, single-celled characters that can spread disease and create foul odors.
Smells can be overwhelming, and often the cause can be methane gas, which arises from decomposing organic material. If that isn’t enough for you to lose your last meal rather rapidly, consider the fact that the stench may be arising from fecal matter gathering in one place (and it is not to honor you and/or celebrate your many achievements.)
Floor drains can accumulate dirt and bacteria that can lead to bad smells if left alone. They require expert maintenance, such as that provided by the folks at Enviro-Master, an established company Entrepreneur Magazine has listed as one of the ‘Top 50 New Franchises.’ Clog-free drains make cleaning a restroom much easier than it would be otherwise because their flow permits surfaces to be easily washed and rinsed as the water drains from the bathroom.
In addition, standing water can stain and damage flooring and create a very unsanitary appearance. No matter how bad they look however, appearances are only one small aspect of the much bigger issue concerning floor drains.
Frequent cleaning of restroom surfaces prevents the build-up of odors, bacteria and viruses, and floor drains allow these elements to be washed away. They must be maintained so that in case of a flooding emergency, they can handle the extra flow of water. A floor drain clog can transport filthy, smelly wastewater up to the surface, providing a suitable setting for the next horror movie to come to your neighborhood. The way to maintain this correctly is to seek help from professionals, because the job can be simply too big and too complex for a busy business manager and limited custodial staff to handle on their own.
Five Reasons You Can’t Ignore Dirty Or Clogged Floor Drains
1) Dirty Floor Drains Become A Haven For Insects
That black-holed abyss known as the floor drain can be a nesting place for many unpleasant critters. Drain flies love to lay their eggs in moist, dark and disgusting places. A dirty floor drain is an ideal home for them and also other unpleasant insects, such as cockroaches, and sewer flies. These insects form their own eco-systems and breeding grounds, and floor drains allow them to either crawl or fly their way up the piping and into the open air. When floor drains are not cleaned on a regular basis, insects will move into your commercial interior and you will pay dearly to get those creepy crawlies out!
2) They Can Develop Toxic Black Mold
Black mold can infect any fixtures and fittings in a bathroom, but the floor drain is a susceptible target for this dangerous organism, which actively produces mycotoxins, the poisonous substance of fungus. They can cause many health problems, including respiratory infections, sinus congestion, migraine headaches, chronic fatigue and allergic reactions, such as hives and rashes.
Toxic black mold thrives in humid conditions offering a plentiful water supply, such as a grimy, unsuspecting bathroom drain. In addition, this mold can be formed via steam evaporation. Warm or even hot shower water can increase the chances of this infestation forming in any private or public restroom.
Compared to any other space within a commercial building, the restroom is notorious for less ventilation than found elsewhere, and for this reason it is a vulnerable target area. Colonies of small ants in one spot usually indicate the presence of black mold and it can also be found in the sink drain. Professional solutions are vital to the prevention of black mold formation, which can be a serious threat to human health and well-being.
3) Floor Drains Can Become A Smelly Gathering Of Fecal Matter
A foul and very nasty smell is the best indicator that something is very wrong somewhere within the confines of the company restroom and particularly, the floor drain. While a normal assumption would be that company cleaning was deficient, this may not be the case. Fecal matter can congregate in one spot and the floor drain is a favored location.
Smell, although blatantly present, is the least concerning of the problems associated with human waste, albeit it is disgusting and vulgar. The bigger picture involves the organisms that thrive within the waste material that can include the deadly microbes that cause cholera, dysentery, typhoid fever, pinworms, tapeworms and roundworms.
4) Sewer Gasses Enter Workplace Bathrooms Through The Floor Drain
The most common way sewer gases, such as methane and hydrogen sulfide, can access a building, especially those constructed after 1950, is through the plumbing. They escape mostly via the floor drain, but can also gain entry through damaged drain lines and blocked vents.
Although most of the odors released through a floor drain are revolting, they are not harmful. Hydrogen sulfide is toxic and can adversely affect the human nervous system. Methane in its gaseous state can affect oxygen supply and breathing within a confined space. This can lead to suffocation and even loss of consciousness. Dizziness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and loss of coordination can also occur from exposure to high concentrations of methane gas.
5) The Grave Health Hazard of Bathroom Floor Drain Back Flow
This is probably the worst of all scenarios and certainly the most disgusting occurrence when it comes to bathroom floor drains. This can and often does occur after a heavy rainstorm when waste from municipal sewers backs up the line and flows indiscriminately through your commercial enterprise. In addition to being absolutely nauseating, this raw sewage also carries a grave health hazard.
In developing countries and even in those that are more modern, inadequate sanitation, including poorly installed bathroom floor drains, cause a backflow of waste-water that becomes a source for sometimes deadly infections. These include: typhoid, cholera and salmonella, which are estimated to cause over 2.2 million deaths per year. Bathroom drain back flow is an emergency plumbing situation.
Surfaces can be easily washed and rinsed while the water drains from the room. The benefit of this is that standing water can damage flooring and can also cause unsightly staining that can create an unhygienic appearance. Floor drains prevent stains from forming and can allow some discoloring to be removed and cleansed. Visible marks are only superficial and it is what lies in wait beneath them that is the stuff of nightmares.
Pestco’s Enviro-Master Washroom Hygiene to The Rescue
Preventing the issues mentioned above requires professional assessment by those who specialize in the promotion of restroom hygiene, such as the services we provide through our partnership with Enviro-Master. Founded in 1983, Enviro-master’s mission is and always has been, Building a healthier world, one restroom at a time. They are and always have been, without question, the world’s leader in hygiene services for public restrooms and we have incorporated their precise cleaning methods into the swath of hygiene services we provide through our Complete Facility Care program.
A Complete Approach To Full Facility Hygiene
Enviro-Master as well as pest control and pest management strategies and environmental odor and freshening solutions provided by Air-Scent are now available to commercial enterprises under the umbrella of bundled services known as our Complete Facility Care Program. This bundled array of services, which has been in continuous operation since 1948, is the most affordable and efficient collection of business hygiene, air freshening and pest-control related services for commercial environments. Learn more about our complete hygiene services.
Our Specific Methods Of Floor Drain Maintenance And Cleaning
While we’ve focused on restrooms in this piece, floor drains are also important fixtures of kitchens, food preparation areas, lodging kennels and other places throughout commercial establishments, and they all need an equal amount of attention when it comes to keeping them clean.
At Pestco, we utilize an array of deep-cleaning drain treatments and applications, which include a blend of high pressure steam cleaning, insecticide and bacterial cultures and professional odor neutralizers. One particularly effective agent is our foaming-odor and slime-eating bacterial cultures, which utilize Air-Scent’s Enz-o-matic liquid digester/odor control concentrates. In addition to these methods, we advise regularly removing and thoroughly cleaning each drain cover with a continual automated dosing system (where applicable), and applying metering pumping dispensers and dissolving biological hanging blocks, which are mounted just under the drain covers. The sum of all of these efforts ensures your floor drains are always clog-free and hygienically clean.
So, if you’re within our coverage area, do your company a favor — consider Pestco for all your company hygiene solutions.
Final thoughts on bathrooms:
Always go to the bathroom when you have the chance. ~ King George V