It’s been two full years since the COVID-19 pandemic changed all of our lives. Two years is a long time to live life in a bubble. I know many people will understand when I say I’m so tired of COVID and all of its restrictions! We want to get on with our lives and have everything return to normal. But here’s the thing, COVID is not going away just because we wish it would.

The latest data suggests the virus will shift to an endemic, following seasonal patterns much like the flu. Most likely, people will need to get annual vaccines to protect themselves against severe illness — again, just like the flu.

Given this information, it’s reasonable to conclude that the heightened awareness around health and hygiene is not going away any time soon. So, two years after COVID, it boggles my mind when I enter a restroom and have to manually touch the soap dispenser and faucet — especially when I’m attending industry events. I don’t leave feeling clean, that’s for sure. I’m reaching for my hand sanitizer as soon as I exit the facilities.

One positive side effect of the pandemic, is roughly half the population believes public restrooms are now cleaner and in better condition than they were pre-COVID, according to Bradley Corp.’s Healthy Handwashing Survey, released earlier this year.

The survey also reported that unclean restrooms tarnish the reputation of a business — 51% of Americans say unclean public restrooms show poor management, which is up from 39% in 2021. Respondents also report that encountering neglected restrooms lowers their opinion of the establishment (43%) and shows the business doesn’t care about its customers (38%). On the flip side, almost 60% say they are likely to spend more cash at a business with clean, well-maintained restrooms.

As you can imagine, 84% of respondents say it was important for public restrooms to be equipped with touchless fixtures, and 63% say they are more likely to return to a business that offers no-touch capabilities in its restrooms.

Healthy Handwashing Survey

“In fact, Americans view touch-free technology as the number one feature that makes them feel safer from germs in restrooms,” said Jon Dommisse, vice president of marketing and corporate communication for Bradley Corp. “Touchless features are also Americans’ most requested improvement in restrooms. More cleaning/restocking takes second place.”

The survey notes Americans consider touchless faucets, soap dispensers, flushers and even restroom entrance door as their top four most important touchless restroom features.

touchless restroom features

I don’t see any new building or facility opting for non-touchless restroom fixtures going forward in this post-COVID, hygiene-focused world (and if they do, it’s the engineer’s job to point out the data supporting touchless), but existing buildings should be looking to upgrade their facilities. Engineers can help their customers by specifying smart, reliable products to help customers save money on maintenance, operation and conserve water at the same time.