Planning public washrooms

What you need to consider

Ralf Biese

When planning commercial buildings, shops and restaurants, there are an endless number of options for realising your personal visions and also accommodating users’ requirements. The same is true for washrooms. Ralf Biese, National Sales Manager for Partner Sales at CWS-boco, explains what you need to consider.

Every building project starts with numerous questions. This goes both for the building and for the washroom. After all, for guests and customers to feel at ease later, a number of important details need to be clarified first of all. In our experience, the sooner the requirements of the client and subsequent users and, depending on the usage of the building, the legislator are known, the more efficient and cost-effective washroom planning is. Any changes later in the process come at considerable expense.

Washroom planning in three steps

To ensure planning certainty, we recommend that our customers plan their washrooms in three steps:

  1. Development of a list of requirements
  2. Consultation with experts
  3. Selection of a provider who best meets their expectations

This may sound hackneyed, yet it is often not taken into account. Instead, the focus is more often on the desire to find out about the numerous options available. This poses the risk that the design and equipment are at the forefront as opposed to user requirements

Checklist: Washroom requirements

As part of a requirements analysis, we firstly answer the following questions with our customers:

  • How is the building going to be used?
  • Do I need to comply with certain legal specifications?
  • How large are the washrooms and how many people use them?
  • Are there special requirements due to the user group?
  • What should the washroom look like (corporate design)?
  • How sustainably should it be equipped? Find out more information on sustainable washrooms here.
  • What cleaning intervals are available and what kind of service is desired?
  • Is there a facility management partner?

The question as to how the building is used provides important information on the equipment required. The requirements for customer toilets in shopping centres and hospitals are distinct from those for toilets in airports and other buildings. In manufacturing businesses, for example, legal requirements in terms of hand hygiene and skin protection often have to be satisfied and this must be considered early on in the planning stage. Other operators set great store by accessibility.

Washroom with CWS Paradise Line equipment

The future users of the new washrooms have very different needs. Is the target group young or old? What is the percentage of female and male users? Does the target group include young mothers and fathers who may need to change their children’s nappies? Is sufficient space for walking aids and wheelchairs required or is an emergency alarm important?

The choice of hand towel, soap and toilet paper dispenser also depend on this answer. For example, sensor-controlled equipment is ideal when accessibility is important or when, due to the high frequency of use, users attach great importance to a personal sense of hygiene. Depending on the deployment site, robust dispensers made of stainless steel can be preferable. The question as to how many dispensers of what size are required depends in part on the frequency of use as well as the size of the premises. External users such as visitors and guests must also be included in this equation. If washrooms are used in a shift system, the cleaning intervals have to be planned accordingly.

Sustainability in washrooms

Despite all these aspects, it is important not to lose sight of the individual equipment preferences. Ultimately, the washroom should dovetail harmoniously into the building as a whole. The design and colour scheme of the equipment as well as the haptics and sustainability are all-important here, indeed sustainability is becoming increasingly important for many washroom operators. 

Washroom with CWS equipment
  • For customers who set particular store by environmental awareness, we recommend dispenser systems whose sustainability has been tested by independent institutes. We also ensure that resources are used sparingly during subsequent operation of the washroom.
  • A virtually waste-free washroom can be achieved, for example, using cotton towel roll systems.
  • And you can also do your bit for the environment when selecting soap: compared with liquid soap, foam soap goes much further. In addition, it requires no water for foaming and is easier to rinse off your hands. This saves water and soap – consumption is reduced by up to 50 per cent.1

Expert advice

The answers to the above questions provide the key details for in-depth consultation. The focus now has to shift to bringing all those parties who are relevant for the decision together: those responsible for procurement and costs, the occupational health and safety and hygiene officers, the property manager or cleaning company and, of course, the staff in the organisation. This is the only way to ensure that the various perspectives, requirements and focal points are taken into account.

Now is also the ideal time to select the service provider. The following aspects should be considered here:

  • Does the solution provider offer a joint inspection including an analysis of requirements?
  • Do the complete service and product offering come from a single source?
  • Is the provider able to submit a tailored offer, including a test phase for the various products?

When deciding which offer to choose, in addition to the costs of setup, long-term issues should not be neglected. The large majority of building costs can be assigned to operation. The same is true for washrooms. If the building is maintained by a facility management company, the company should be involved in decision-making early on. A partner who is in close contact with day-to-day happenings is in a good position to estimate the challenges faced by a new washroom realistically.

Servicefahrer of CWS-boco

If possible, dispensers should be tested in advance and versions such as, for example, different sizes and filling materials should be tried out. A precise analysis of experiences indicates whether the recommended concept is suitable or whether certain changes are required. Following this test phase, you can rest assured that you have found the ideal solution and there is nothing to stop refurbishment.


1 “Klinikum testet: Schaumseife gegen Cremeseife”, 1998, reprint of medical special, Issue 09/98, Ith-Verlag.

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