Survey from Clorox Professional Products Company, in cooperation with ISSA, reveals “unflushed” truth about restroom tough jobs and the value of cleaning visible dirt as well as the unseen germs.

PLEASANTON, Calif., October 27, 2014 – Most people have a “get in and get out” strategy when it comes to using public restrooms and do not consider what kind of maintenance is put into these facilities on a daily basis. With restroom maintenance likely to be a topic discussed at the ISSA/INTERCLEAN conference in Orlando from November 4-7, Clorox Professional Products Company partnered with ISSA, the leading trade association for the cleaning industry worldwide, to uncover the “secrets from the stalls” and get the dirt about cleaning industry professionals’ challenges and tough jobs in the restroom.

“Maintaining public restrooms is certainly a tough job, but it’s also one of the most important tasks within a facility,” said Jennifer Case, Associate Director of Marketing, Clorox Professional Products Company. “Not only do restrooms influence people’s perceptions of the overall facility, but they also play a role in public health. Keeping a restroom disinfected can help prevent the spread of illness-causing germs to building occupants and the community at-large. This survey with ISSA allows us to further understand cleaning professionals’ needs so that we can continue to develop innovative products and resources to help make their jobs easier.” 

The Unflushed Truth about Tough Jobs in Public Restrooms

Public restrooms can be found in all types of buildings, but no matter the setting, they all have similar cleaning and disinfecting needs. Above all, most cleaning industry professionals (67%) rank removing urine stains and odors as the most difficult cleaning and disinfecting task.[1] Other key findings include:

  • Nearly half of professionals (49%) instruct their staff to remove urine stains and odors most often.1
  • If all restrooms were self-cleaning, most respondents (61%) would love to never clean and disinfect urinals and toilets again.1
  • Surprisingly, cleaning professionals rank cleaning up bodily fluids, such as blood and vomit, as more tolerable (43%) than removing urine stains and odors (56%).1

How to Deal with Visible Dirt and Unseen Germs in Public Restrooms

When it comes to public restrooms, cleaning industry professionals have two important jobs: cleaning for appearance and cleaning for health. Maintaining a visibly clean restroom is important for influencing consumer perception, but harmful microorganisms, such as Shigella, Salmonella, Hepatitis A, E. coli and norovirus, are routinely found in restrooms and are associated with outbreaks of illness.[2],[3]

According to survey results, most cleaning industry professionals (85%) are fully aware of the importance of this dual relationship of cleaning for appearance and health. The vast majority (95%) also believe that restroom cleaning has an impact on overall public health by helping to prevent the spread of disease.1

However, this understanding may not trickle down to all employees, as only half of respondents (49%) believe their staff is aware of all the risk associated with the spread of germs in the restroom.1 The survey also found that:

  • One in five respondents (20%) believe that the general public may think their facility’s restroom harbors germs.1
  • Most cleaning professionals believe that restroom handles harbor the most illness-causing germs and bacteria, particularly restroom door handles (65%), faucet handles (38%) and toilet or urinal handles (36%).1
  • However, secondary research shows that this is false and that door handles pose the least risk for germs.[4] The feminine hygiene trash can, which only 12 percent of professionals believe to be germy,1 has one of the highest concentrations of germs.[5]
  • Cleaning for aesthetics tasks are viewed as tougher than cleaning for health (disinfecting) tasks and only 29 percent of supervisors reported instructing their staff to disinfect surfaces most often.1

Back to Basics: Continuing Education Needs of the Cleaning Industry

Keeping on top of restroom cleaning needs can be demanding, and although only 15 percent of respondents report a lack of education or training as a challenge to performing optimal restroom cleaning, far more (68%) say their staff does not understand or only somewhat understands the differences between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting.1

“These survey results underscore some of the restroom cleaning challenges that are often neglected and show that industry professionals may not understand as much as they think they do,” said Anthony Trombetta, Director of Sales, ISSA. “At ISSA, our goal is to arm our members with the knowledge and educational tools they need to help them perform their jobs optimally, and this survey endeavor with Clorox Professional allows us to gather valuable insights so that we can continue to fulfill that need.”

When it comes to educational tools, cleaning professionals said the following:

  • Almost all (94%) rely on product usage instructions to train staff, but 43 percent of those think these tools could be improved.1
  • Nine in 10 (90%) professionals use restroom cleaning protocols or guidelines, but 45 percent believe these tools could be improved.1

To see more results from this survey and as well as additional cleaning industry resources, click here.


About the Survey

ISSA and Ketchum Global Research & Analytics designed and analyzed this online survey of 375 cleaning industry professionals. ClearVoice Research and ISSA fielded the survey from May 15-22 and from June 12-30, 2014. The survey has a margin of error of +/-4.9 percentage points.

[1] Clorox Professional Products Company and ISSA and ClearVoice Research. (May and June 2014). Cleaning Industry Professionals Public Restroom Survey. (Survey of 375 cleaning industry professionals).

[2] Barker J, Jones MV. “The potential spread of infection caused by aerosol contamination of surfaces after flushing a domestic toilet.” Journal of Applied Microbiology 99(2005): 339–347.

[3] Boone SA, Gerba CP. “Significance of Fomites in the Spread of Respiratory and Enteric Viral Disease.” Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology 73.6(2007): 1687-1696.

[4] “Restroom Germ Myths And Realities Revealed.” (2013, June 13). Retrieved from:–15689.

[5] Kravitz, R. “Restrooms: Where Are the Germs Really?” (2009, Sept. 28). Retrieved from:  

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Becky Miller,