Restrooms and Staff-Specific Areas

Restrooms harbor germs, and keeping them sanitary is often a big challenge for business owners. But they're also the place where your customers can most effectively help prevent the spread of infection - by washing their hands.

It's important to ensure hygiene protocols for your restrooms are included in your overall COVID-19 reopening plan. Our guidelines can help get you started on best practices for restrooms, and we also recommend you refer to the CDC's Resuming Business Toolkit and OSHA's Guidance on Returning to Work brochure. For state-specific information, visit our COVID-19 Resources for Each State page where you'll find links to every state's coronavirus website.

Encourage physical distancing in restrooms.

Ensure guests maintain physical distancing by closing down every other:

  • Urinal
  • Stall
  • Faucet/sink

For additional protection, install barriers or partitions 

Don't allow crowds to gather outside of restrooms.

To discourage lines that may form outside of restrooms because of the reduced number of urinals or stalls:

  • Post signs on bathroom doors or entrances asking guests to come back later if all are in use.
  • Designate team members to monitor restroom entrances and quickly intercede if a crowd begins to form.

Reevaluate cleaning and stocking routines.

Disinfect high-touch surfaces frequently, as often as every hour, or more during peak use. This includes:

  • Toilet handles
  • Stall knobs, both sides
  • Stall doors, especially non-hinge sides where patrons tend to place their hands when opening and closing
  • Coat hooks and/or purse/bag shelves
  • Manual soap dispensers
  • Faucet handles
  • Paper towel dispenser handles
  • Hand dryer buttons
  • Baby changing stations

Use EPA-approved disinfectants that kill COVID-19, and be sure to follow product instructions. Use disinfectant labels labeled to be effective against emerging viral pathogens, diluted household bleach solutions (5 tablespoons per gallon of water), or alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol that are appropriate for the surface.
Be sure to include restocking/refilling paper towels and soap with your new disinfection routine.

  • Customers may have forgiven an empty soap or paper towel dispenser before, but now it's likely to cause a lack of repeat business for you.

Perform normal overnight cleaning as usual.

Don't leave hand dryers in operation.

At this time, there is no clear direction from the CDC or OSHA about closing down hand dryers. But we do know this:

COVID-19 is highly contagious and spreads through respiratory droplets and possibly from aerosolized water from toilets ("toilet plume"). The air from high-powered hand dryers can end up circulating these droplets. It's a good idea to, at least temporarily, to replace hand dryers with paper towels.

Encourage the use of facemasks

We all want a break from wearing a mask, but the bathroom is not the place to do it. Because it's difficult to ensure proper social distancing in a restroom and the possibility of droplets spreading due to high-power flush toilets, keeping a facemask on is important when using the bathroom.

Post signs on bathroom doors, by mirrors and sinks, and inside of stall doors, that remind customers to keep their masks on.

Use signs to promote health and hygiene protocols

Even though the message about handwashing has been everywhere for months, it's a message that cannot be shared enough.
Remind: Place "reminder signs" to wash hands on the inside of stall doors and between urinals.
Instruct: Place signs about how to wash hands properly by faucets/sinks.
Ask: Add a friendly sign on the way out of the bathroom asking customers if they remembered to wash their hands. Sometimes a gentle reminder is all we need to push us in the right direction.
Sign types include: Preprinted signs (laminated or waterproof ones are the best near sinks). Sign holders that allow you to print your own (CDC has a colorful and friendly option for download - English, Spanish).

We Also Recommend

  • No-touch sinks, soap dispensers, sanitizer dispensers, and paper towel dispensers should be installed whenever possible.
  • For delivery drivers, normally accessible restrooms on routes (e.g., restaurants, coffee shops) may be closed. Employers should provide employees alternative restroom locations and allow time for employees to use them.
  • Doors to multi-stall restrooms should be able to be opened and closed without touching handles if at all possible.
  • Place a trash can by the door if the door cannot be opened without touching the handle.
  • For single restrooms, provide signage and materials (paper towels and trash cans) for individuals to use without touching the handles, and consider providing a key so disinfection measures can be better controlled.

Place signs indicating that toilet lids (if present) should be closed before flushing.
The information we have on COVID-19 is constantly changing. Be sure to stay informed by signing up for email updates from key agencies like the CDC, OSHA, and state and local health agencies, and check out our website for new resources and recommendations.

Room Checklist 

Hands-free/automatic faucets or adaptors
Liquid soap in pump or hands-free/automatic soap dispensers
Paper towels
Hands-free/automatic paper towel dispenser

Facial tissue
Hands-free waste containers with lids
Handwashing signs
Sign holders
Barrier shields/partitions

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