One easy, temporary solution to making public bathrooms safer would be to limit the number of people who can use them at the same time, Walsh says.
Li and Wang said they advocate several steps we can take as well:
- Clean the toilet seat with a disinfecting wipe before you use it. This can eliminate virus particles that might have settled on its surface.
- If the toilet has a lid, close it before you flush to prevent toilet plume.
- Finally, wash your hands carefully after flushing, since virus particles may be present on the flush button and door handle.
American Standard's Walsh says he expects the overall layout and shape of commercial bathrooms to change to address the spacing issue required to accommodate social distancing. Sinks and stalls will eventually be installed at a minimum of 6 feet (2 meters) apart, and technology will be used to eliminate the need to touch things like faucets and flush handles.
"Changes are necessary across the board to keep everyone safe," Walsh says. "Our team is working to improve the reliability with proximity and automatic technology, targeting auto open/close toilet seats, auto flush toilets and urinals alike, as well as auto handwashing faucets."
The good news is that these innovations have already been developed. Many features like automatic toilet lids and auto-cleaning functionality are already available in home bathrooms. Walsh says American Standard is looking for ways to extend its existing self-cleaning toilet technology, like the ActiClean and VorMax, to commercial toilets, urinals and lavatories.
"'Before' these types of upgrades could wait; now they can't," Walsh says. "For instance, touchless faucets are almost always recommended by engineers for public consumer spaces, but many businesses or building managers opt for a standard faucet to save on cost. Now, we will likely see touchless technology required in these spaces, instead of presented as an upgradeable option."