The Grossest Areas in Public Restrooms & How to Clean Them

Most people are wary of germs on public toilet seats. These concerns are valid. However, there are some really gross spots in public restrooms that you may have never considered. These four items could be harboring hidden pathogens.

The Floor in Front of The Toilet

How many women set their purse on the floor of the restroom? The area in front of the toilet is one of the grossest surfaces when it comes to pathogen contamination. Microbes from the toilet are ejected into the air with every flush. They will eventually settle on surrounding surfaces, including the floor. The other culprits are the bacteria and viruses tracked in on shoes.

Train housekeeping staff to clean from top to bottom. Clean the floor last to avoid re-contamination. Wet mop using a disinfectant solution, starting from the farthest corner and mopping towards the exit. Provide extra attention to the floor underneath toilets and urinals. Be sure to change the mop water between each bathroom to avoid cross-contamination.

The Sink

You may think of the sink as being clean. After all, that’s where the soap goes. Soap washes germs from hands into the basin, and they don’t all make it down the drain. A case study from BioCote found that the sink contained more than four times the amount of bacteria as any other tested surface. Also topping the list was the tap! When cleaning, it’s crucial to allow the disinfectant to stand for the manufacturers recommended dwell time to ensure true sanitation.

Refillable Soap Dispensers

Washing your hands with soap and water is supposed to make your hands cleaner! However, an article published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology reveals that a quarter of public restroom soap dispensers are contaminated. Liquid soap laced with bacteria is a substantial public health risk, especially in hospital and foodservice settings. Soap dispensers where the refill is poured directly into the container are prone to contamination, which can lead to outbreaks. The habit of topping off half-empty tank leads to bacterial contamination of liquid soap. The solution is using a sealed-soap-dispensing system that is refilled with a new cartridge of soap each time.

Jet Hand Dryers

Newer technology does not always mean more sanitary restrooms. High-intensity jet hand dryers are a quick and efficient drying method. They are efficient at spreading germs! Research published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology looked at the spread of microbes from different hand-drying methods in public restrooms. The researchers found that jet air dryers lead to “significantly greater and further dispersal” of bacteria. The study concluded that paper towels are the most sanitary drying method in public restrooms.

Best Practices

Hidden pathogens in public toilets spread illness. Proper sanitation is particularly crucial in the health care and foodservice industries. To summarize, here are some best practices for decreasing contamination:

  • Single-use paper towels
  • Sealed replacement cartridges for soap dispensers
  • Follow recommend dwell times for disinfectants
  • Cleaning top to bottom
  • Change the mop solution between each bathroom

Lastly, the right equipment and cleaning procedures make a considerable difference in sanitation.


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Emily Jean Roche

PJP Brand Ambassador

Emily Jean is a blogger and content marketing freelance writer. She crafts compelling copy across many industries, including residential and commercial janitorial services, healthcare services, and B2B marketing firms. Emily loves strong coffee and YA novels. She lives in Kentucky with her husband, daughters, and backyard chickens.

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