Are dirty toilets a cause of dehydration in children?

Sudakshina Bhattacharjee

Although a shocking headline, recent research by Initial Hygiene revealed that up to 43% of school children are intentionally not drinking water to avoid using the toilet. The number one cause for this appears to be dirtiness in school toilets and washrooms.

Top 3 reasons for public washroom avoidance:

Research carried out by Initial Hygiene in April 2015 in Australia, UK, Germany, France and Singapore confirmed the following top reasons, amongst parents with children:

  1. Dirtiness – 47%
  2. Bad odours – 38%
  3. Lack of supplies (soaps, toilet paper, paper towels) – 30%

 ThinkstockPhotos-484664800Whilst parents are responsible for teaching their children about good hygiene practices, surely facilities managers and school managers must also have a duty of care.

If you want to  safeguard the welfare of students and provide a healthy and hygienic environment in which to learn and study, you have to invest in your washrooms!

47% adults do not use public toilets

Even as an adult I can sympathise with the reluctance to use public loos, and it seems I am not alone.

The same research revealed that up to 47% of adults preferred not to use a public toilet in the last six months due to unacceptable levels of dirtiness.

In fact, 1 in 10 adults never use a public washroom altogether.  

Unlike children though, I will recognise symptoms of dehydration in my own body and will know to do something about – would a child at school be as aware?

Common symptoms of dehydration:

  1. Tiredness
  2. Headache
  3. Constipation
  4. Dizziness / confusion

Think about the level of concentration that a school child needs each day. To absorb all the new information they are taught, to study and then even do some physical exercise, how can they do all this if they are dehydrated?

Emma Kenny, a leading psychologist commented on the research “Children are sensory by nature and appealing environments mean that children are more likely to engage in desired behaviours.”

In other words,  if you can make your washroom appealing, you will encourage greater use and instill good practices early on in life.

How do you improve washrooms?

Ultimately maintaining hygienic washrooms within schools requires efficient hygiene services to prevent the spread of germs and illness amongst children so that they can grow and learn in a safe environment.

So, the answer can be summed up in 2 words: Clean and Invest.

Cleanliness

initial product range for toiletIf the number one cause of toilet avoidance is down to dirtiness, then you have to take the time to clean! No rocket science involved here.

  • Keep toilets, sinks, walls, floors and bins – clean and sparkingly even, if at all possible.
  • Make toilets smell nice too! You might enter a bathroom that looks spotless but if there is a suspicious lingering smell your customer will know there is an underlying problem.

 The memory of a bad smell can linger in the mind for much longer and be associated with the brand of business.

 “75% of the emotions we experience on a daily basis are affected by smell. Research has shown that we are 100 times more likely to remember something we smell than something we see, hear or touch.”

– Avery Gilbert, Sensory Psychologist at Monell Chemical Senses Center

Investment

Finally, invest in your washroom! This should not just be a task for premium brands, luxury hotels and the like. All businesses and schools should take this seriously.

 I have only ever been to Singapore airport once in my life. But the memory of the clean washrooms and the monitor by the exit which asked for a review of the facilities has stuck in my mind! Right there is a business that takes the importance of their public facilities seriously.

 Now, also think of how people love to complain. The same research showed that 28% of consumers will name and shame places with dirty toilets by posting photos on social media – no business is safe from that!

What do you invest in?

soap dispenser for toiletStart with the essentials. Invest in basic products like:

  • soap dispensers
  • paper towel dispensers
  • hand dryers (which actually dry hands in the time they claim to)
  • adequate size bins
  • sanitary bins
  • air fresheners

But providing these basic products is not enough. Maintenance, re-filling, re-stocking is as important, otherwise what‘s the point in investing in them if you are not willing to maintain their upkeep.

 Oh and need I mention the most basic consideration…good plumbing!

Future proofing your washroom

The technology now exists to monitor bathrooms from multiple angles ranging from tracking frequency of use, recording reviews and also monitoring stock levels.

 Now we may not be at the stage of using sea shells instead of toilet paper as in the movie Demolition Man – but who knows, one day we might.

Growing investment in new sophisticated monitoring tools, which can send alerts when soap dispensers are running low for example, will help to ensure your customers or students feel comfortable using your washroom.

Invest in your washroom today!

Initial performs a FREE hygiene survey of your washroom.

Our team of microbiologists provide expert advice on the risks of poor hygiene.

We use tools to establish the cleanliness of your bathroom and recommend best ways to improve hygiene standards in order to prevent and reduce the spread of bacteria.


My final word, or plea, to businesses and schools is this:  Invest in your washrooms. Take pride in your facilities so that we stay happy and healthy. Let us humans thrive, and not the dirt, germs and bad smells!

Sudakshina Bhattacharjee
Sudakshina Bhattacharjee

Sudakshina (Kina) Bhattacharjee is a Digital Content Author at Rentokil Initial, where she creates, edits and audits content across the organisation's online channels, focusing on commercial pest control and hygiene topics. For the past 18 years, she has acquired a wealth of experience in writing and editing commercial content for both print and digital media, catering to audiences from the financial, oil and gas, further education and digital marketing industries. Sudakshina holds a degree in New Media Journalism, is a certified lecturer (having taught in higher education institutions for 7 years) and the author of a Business English textbook with a leading international publishing house.

1 Comment

  1. I feel this issue is a grave concern with parents and the schools must take action

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