Equipment Maintenance Tips

Today’s experienced portable restroom rental service operators know how to maintain their toilet units optimally. But, keeping a portable restroom ideally clean under the current 2022 public health circumstances can be unusually challenging. This is especially the case for industrial clients with continuous toilet rental contracts and large multi-day public events where usage is very frequent. Here are some selected reminders and follow-up points updated from our February 2021 tips for portable toilet equipment maintenance.

Portable Toilet Maintenance Challenges

Hazardous bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens thrive in any facility with a high rate of use. The 2006 Cornell University study (which we discussed in the previous toilet unit equipment maintenance article) found that even public restrooms that look clean are very high-risk areas for transmission of pathogens.

The danger is primarily due to the relatively large numbers of people using the same facilities, eliminating bodily fluids, walking on the floors, and, worst of all, handling the same faucet fixtures, doorknobs, supplies, and other communal surfaces.

Other research, at the University of Colorado, has revealed a fascinating and alarming pattern in the public restrooms they studied. The researchers found that even more than fecal matter or urine on toilets, or the extreme diversity of contaminants on restroom floors, the prevalent contaminant in public restrooms is human skin!

The researchers found this especially concerning because it indicates that staphylococcus aureus and other virulent pathogens can be freely transmitted between restroom users just by touching the same surfaces.

The Cornell study found that overall bacterial growth is even much worse in facilities with insufficient ventilation and poor cleaning and maintenance. The risk of serious health impacts to users is especially high in facilities with flies and other insect infestations.

Solutions in Advanced Equipment and Processes

In 2022, a much more informed generation of rental restroom operators using advanced eco-friendly toilet cleaning solutions is highly effective in killing pathogens. Altogether, the experience of using portable restrooms has come a long way.

Today’s green alternative products are made with the understanding that not all forms of microbes in restrooms should be eliminated. They integrate certain enzymes and microbial agents that feed on the unwanted bacteria that cause bad restroom odors.

Of course, the cleaning agents are only as good as their application by professional restroom maintenance techs. The more fundamental solution, after all, is keeping walls, sink fixtures and counters, toilets, floors, drains, and both doors handles frequently and thoroughly washed and scrubbed to control contaminants that put health at risk.

Shannon Lock, American Waste Systems Inc., Kansas City MO, suggests installing a truck-mounted powerwasher on your portable toilet trucks for cleaning convenience.

Know the Difference Between Sanitizing vs. Disinfecting

Using the most effective cleaning products is arguably more important for portable restroom operators than for most other types of businesses. But, it’s a common mistake to think that sanitizing and disinfecting are the same thing. Here’s the important difference between the two:
• Sanitizer: Reduces the pathogens on a surface by 99.9%. Products for this purpose are commonly used to clean public and semi-public buildings.
• Disinfectant: Eliminates 100% of pathogens on a surface. Products for this use kill the specific microorganisms the solution is formulated to destroy. Disinfectant is the correct chemical agent for cleaning portable toilet units.

Have a Routine Toilet Maintenance Plan

If you ask enough of the best portable restroom rental service operators, you’ll find the consensus is that the core of good restroom equipment care is having a maintenance plan, plus a reliable on-call response system. A planned routine is especially necessary for ongoing rental contracts with industrial facilities, large construction project sites, large public events that span multiple days, etc.

Professional operators are, of course, well aware of the fundamental processes for preparing the toilet tank for use and the need to use industrial-grade biocide to degrade and disinfect waste. You also know you need to use proper equipment and steps for pumping out the tank and transporting waste. And, all are already highly proficient in charging the toilet unit with gallons of fresh blue disinfectant.

However, some finer points of restroom maintenance are less consistently applied across the industry. We’ve consolidated multiple of these sometimes forgotten processes from various top service providers nationwide, into this streamlined list of too often-overlooked portable restroom equipment maintenance tips:

• Disinfect every touchpoint: Focus on the areas touched most frequently by people, such as door handles and locks, tissue holders, hand sanitizer dispensers, etc.
• Scrub the whole unit: Scrub all high-contact areas such as walls, door, toilet, urinal, and floor. Also, scrub the exterior door and wall area along with the exterior door handle.
• Fog the toilet enclosure: Fill the interior of the portable restroom unit with wide-spectrum antimicrobial fog to ensure you cover all the surfaces.
• Add cleaning tablets: Although tablets can’t do what deep blue liquid can do, they do help stop some bacteria from growing. So, try a fresh tablet in toilets at least monthly.
• Air out the unit frequently: Opening the door to expose the interior of the unit to outside air helps dry it out and prevent the buildup of heat and humidity in the interior.
• Keep supplies fully stocked: Promptly replace empty toilet tissue, paper towels, hand soap, hand sanitizer, and cleaning tablets, routinely and as needed.
• Sign and date the service log: Ensure that each unit receives timely attention, and provide customers and restroom users with helpful information on the cleaning routine.

Use only the best deep blue liquid and other portable toilet unit cleaning and disinfecting products. Overall, those are the products that offer you the best value for your money. That’s because they help you achieve greater customer satisfaction, which means people will continue to use your service and refer their friends and acquaintances.

See a good model for this policy in the Green Latrine company’s cleanliness guarantee and their 10-step process

Using the Eight-Fold Cleaning Cloth Method

Another important tip is to avoid cross-contamination from unclean to clean areas due to improper use of the cleaning cloth. Use the 8-fold method:

1. Fold a cleaning cloth over two times.
2. Then use one side for wiping.
3. Then turn over the cloth to clean the next spot.
To help keep track of which sides are clean or unclean, consider using microfiber towels with eight sections marked for easy identification.

Toilet Maintenance in Hot Vs. Cold Months

The health conditions inside a portable toilet unit can be severely impacted by extremely hot or cold outside temperatures. Here are some tips for deep seasonal maintenance to help ensure the health and safety of users of your rental restroom products:

• Extreme Heat Conditions: Bacteria flourish in hot moist environments. Locate portable toilet units in shaded areas, not in direct sunlight. Increase the ratio of water to chemicals significantly during hot temperatures. Ensure adequate ventilation.
• Extreme Cold Conditions: Use salt as needed to de-ice portable toilets. Use antifreeze to keep the toilet system from freezing, so you can disinfect the toilet with the necessary chemicals.

Final Tip: Collaborate for Optimal Maintenance

Work with your customers to make sure that the condition of your portable toilet units is monitored between your routine maintenance visits. Partnering in this way with your customers is especially important during your busiest periods and during bad weather periods, to protect their health and ensure their satisfaction with your portable restroom facility.

For small portable restroom services, with customers in distant locations, close communication is vital. Or, when weather conditions are very bad, the most practical way to make sure your customers are receiving what they need from you is to encourage them to contact you anytime.

Be proactive in asking them for their questions and feedback, and motivate them to notify you anytime they have an issue with the cleanliness or maintenance condition of your equipment on their site.

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