Transport hubs offer outbreaks such as the coronavirus a way of quickly spreading across the world. That is why washroom hygiene in airports and stations is imperative, says Stuart Hands from Tork manufacturer Essity.

Transit hubs are at the sharp end of hygiene. During outbreaks of flu and other illnesses such as the coronavirus, the fear of infection at airports and train stations is palpable.

Masked passengers glance around nervously whenever they hear a fellow traveller cough or sneeze. They have reason to be concerned. Transport hubs play host to thousands of people every day from all corners of the earth – and it is impossible to keep them completely safe from infection.

After a nerve-wracking stint in the departure lounge or waiting room, passengers are herded on to a packed train or a narrow-bodied aircraft where they remain in close contact with their travel companions - and where it is harder than ever to avoid the risk of cross-contamination.

So, one would expect travel and transport facilities to implement strict cleaning and hygiene protocols to ensure the safety of customers.

However, a number of recent press stories have shown the opposite to be the case in some instances. In November 2019, a survey of air passengers revealed that hygiene was considered to be particularly poor on several popular airlines with reports of greasy tray tables, soiled headrests and dusty window sills.


A study of 23 US airlines revealed that water on board the ‘planes was often so dirty that it was not recommended for hand washing. The 2019 Airline Water Study found that relatively safe, clean water was only available on four of the airlines tested.

So, how can hygiene when travelling be improved? As far as the toilets on aircraft and trains are concerned, it is mainly a matter of providing fresh, clean water plus plentiful supplies of soap and paper towels. It is also important to carry out regular cleaning and maintenance checks and to allow sufficient time between journeys to perform a thorough clean of the washrooms.

But in airports and stations the task becomes more complex because of the high numbers of visitors involved. Such facilities experience peaks in washroom traffic between flights and train journeys, and these periods of sudden heavy usage could lead to cleaning issues along with run-outs of soap and paper.

Airport and station cleaners have traditionally had to make repeated checks on the facilities to ensure that they are clean and that the dispensers are well stocked. But this repetitive task has recently been made easier with the aid of technology.

Tork EasyCube uses sensors in dispensers and on doors to ‘connect’ washrooms and monitor usage.

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