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The Dirty Fingernails Of The Restroom: Soiled grout lines are the restroom equivalent to having dirt underneath your fingernails.

Last updated 5 years ago

Originally posted by Cleaning Maintenance & Management Online

By: Aaron Baunee

When I cross the threshold and enter a public restroom, I am often appalled by what I see.

While some suffer unwarranted fears about these human waste transfer stations, others are simply displeased by their unkempt nature.

I am not suggesting that all public restrooms are filthy, but I’m certainly not claiming that they all smell like roses either.

I have been wholly impressed by the meticulousness of a select few custodial professionals who mind the details of restroom cleanliness.

But, for the most part, there is a common theme with the restrooms I see: Soiled grout lines.

It might not be apparent at first glance, but after more scrutinous observation of a given restroom over time, it becomes clear that the porous mortar binding each individual ceramic tile is not as bright and clean as it once was.

While there are numerous reasons for this — infrequent cleaning, dirty cleaning solution, improper techniques, insufficient equipment, etc. — the end result is nearly constant: Malodors.

The single largest source of complaints from building occupants and cleaning staffs alike is restroom odors.

They can permeate from other areas like around fixtures or inside floor drains, but offense restroom odors tend to be traceable to grout lines harboring odor-causing germs and bacteria.

The solution is simple in theory but rather difficult in practice; the key to minimizing odors from bacterial off-gassing is to keep the grout lines clean and not allow microorganisms to replicate.

Provide The Solution

Building owners, custodial supervisors and facilities managers all insist that their workers strive to achieve clean, odor-free grout lines in their restrooms, yet fail to deliver the necessary training, education, tools and equipment.

Click here to read more

Aaron Baunee, a graduate of the University at Albany with a double major in history and journalism, is the managing editor of Cleaning & Maintenance Management magazine. He can be reached at In his years with the publication, Baunee has amassed numerous articles, columns and commentaries pertaining to commercial cleaning and maintenance.


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