Washing our hands after using the toilet has become such a routine thing that we do it automatically, often without even thinking. But, it is important to not forget why this simple hygiene practice is so important. Take the Ebola crisis as an example. Not only was it a scary prospect for the world as a whole, but it was also a fundamental lesson to all of us about the importance of hand washing and good hygiene.
A disease like Ebola was an important reminder to those of us who do have access to clean water and sanitation of how lucky we really are. According to the charity Water Aid, in Sierra Leone nearly 40 per cent of the population does not have access to clean water, leaving families and communities in a desperate struggle to keep themselves safe. Most venues in and around the Middle East understand the need to provide the right washroom dispensers to cater to our hygiene needs. However, maximum hygiene is not always their top priority.
Often, aesthetics will come before hygiene on their list of must-haves. Venues look for stylish designs that enhance the aesthetic appeal of their washrooms. And, who can blame them? We all want our establishments to look inviting. Visual appeal attracts customers, and customers attract revenue. But, we’re not just here to make a washroom smell nice and look pretty. The job of the manufacturer is not to compromise visual appeal with unsafe systems – it is our duty to combine the two.
Disposal issues also rank highly as an important factor for venues. Products that can be easily disposed of (i.e. that are not hazardous and that can be thrown into normal waste) are now purchased. Non-restrictive transport issues can be an added benefit. And, many more establishments are seeking greener alternatives to traditional dispensing systems. Healthcare establishments are naturally more concerned about maximum hygiene because they are often dealing with vulnerable people, and transmitting any sorts of germs could be deadly. The same goes for food establishments, who need to be careful not to contaminate the food they serve. Other sectors like leisure and hotels are still concerned with safety but are arguably more worried about style, technology and being up-to-date with the latest trends. They want to ensure that their washroom dispensers look great and match their modern design.
So, what should venues be looking out for when it comes to washroom dispensers? I like to use five ‘S’ words - ‘safe’, ‘solid’, ‘simple’, ‘subtle’ and ‘stylish’.
Safety is, of course, key. Like I mentioned before, we are not just here to make a washroom look great for a Tripadvisor review! Maximum hygiene is a top priority. Features like sealed soap pouches ensure optimum hygiene as the refill pouch cannot be opened before being inserted into a dispenser, and therefore it cannot be contaminated before use. Antimicrobial additives reduce bacterial growth on surfaces and protect users if they have to touch a dispenser (say, a soap dispenser or a feminine hygiene bin).
- Solid means that venues should look for products that are built to last. Durability is key, especially when a washroom dispenser will be subject to all sorts of touching, pushing and grabbing! Poorly made dispensing systems will only break and therefore discourage people from using them.
- Simple is the name of the game. It is important that washroom dispensers are easy-to-use. Not just simple for a person to install, but simple for the end user – if it needs instructions once it’s up on the wall, it shouldn’t be there!
- Subtle is ensuring that hygiene units are in view but not dominating the space. Who wants to be met with a huge ugly feminine hygiene waste bin overflowing with sanitary waste? Many manufacturers are designing their products to be as discreet as possible, without disrupting the surrounding environment.
- Stylish is a no brainer. Gone are the days of bulky dispensers making the washroom look clinical. Say hello to super swanky bathrooms with co-ordinated dispensers.
We all care about what’s on the outside, and it is natural to do so. But, the next time you’re in a washroom, using the coolest dispensers around, remember what they’re really there for. If they don’t keep us safe, they’re pretty much useless.