Perceptions of Hygiene

Recent survey by Formica Group identifies a clear link between quality of public washrooms and the perceived cleanliness of the establishment.

  • More than half of Brits are reluctant to use public toilets as they perceive them to be ‘too dirty’
  • Almost 2/3 (65%) agree that the quality of the toilets would affect their perception of the quality of the food with nearly a third (27%) admitting they check the state of the toilets before committing to eating or drinking somewhere
  • Over 76% agreed they have experienced dire conditions in a public washroom

We all value cleanliness and in today’s society it has become common practice to rate the bathrooms when visiting hospitality venues. Our perception of the venues we visit is often limited to the few spaces we can access and experience, the washrooms being one of these.

The latest results from the washroom survey commissioned by Formica Group revealed that over half (55%) of Brits rate the cleanliness of public toilets across the UK as adequate or worse.

Neglected toilet facilities send reputations down the drain

Overall two-thirds of Brits agree that the cleanliness of a bathroom would be likely to influence their perception of the quality in other areas of the establishment, for example, the food served or the cleanliness of the bedrooms in a hotel.

When it comes to public washroom ratings men and women have reasonably equal standards of cleanliness. 57% of women reported that they have visited a public bathroom which was so bad it put them off revisiting the venue compared to 53% of men. One respondent commented; “if the toilets are not clean personally it raises my concerns about the cleanliness of the entire establishment and its staff.” More than two-thirds of women (76%) agree and say if they were to see the toilets were inadequate before eating or drinking they would leave the venue. 67% of men agree, highlighting the extent of the importance of an overarching impression of cleanliness, dip below this and the company runs the risk of tarnishing their reputation.

Urine trouble if you need to spend a penny here

The results show that Brits rated train toilets as being the most unpleasant to use, with over half (53%) admitting they would be reluctant to use them. This is followed by nightclubs (25%), motorway services (22%), pubs (21%) and fast-food restaurants (21%).

When asked why those surveyed would be reluctant to use train toilets common answers included, that respondents perceive trains to be dirty. Additional thoughts included that toilets can’t be monitored or cleaned properly on long journeys, making them more susceptible to mess, nasty smells and lacking toilet paper and soap.

Bog standard décor 

Regionally East Anglia was the area that was impacted most by the style of the bathroom with 48% of respondents revealing that the overall bathroom aesthetic would impact how comfortable they felt using the facilities. Wales, on the other hand, were less concerned with only 34% of people revealing the décor would impact their opinion of the establishment.

When asked if the décor in public washrooms affects their perception of how the bathroom smells over half (57%) agreed it did have an effect. Brits are least impressed by neon colours (3%) and earthy tones (9%) when it comes to bathroom decor. Paler colour palettes including whites and creams (39%) and cool colours including blues, greens and grey (18%) give the greatest impression of cleanliness.

The results highlight that public washrooms enable consumers to instantly form an overall impression of an establishment’s level of cleanliness. Indicating that hospitality businesses should focus heavily on up-scaling and ensuring their toilets are always fully maintained to achieve that all-important ‘wow’ factor.