Dirty eatery toilets a no-go for diners

More than 60 per cent of the people polled in a survey last month said they would not visit an eatery if its toilets were rated the dirtiest, even if its food was good.

This is up from about 34 per cent in a 2012 survey by the Restroom Association Singapore (RAS). This year's survey was conducted with support from online survey platform SurveyMonkey. 

The results were announced on World Toilet Day on Thursday at RAS' seventh Let's Observe Ourselves (Loo) Awards, which recognised outstanding toilets and cleaning service providers.

RAS said respondents can draw the connection between dirty toilets and food hygiene.

RAS executive director Emerson Hee said people could have higher expectations of toilet cleanliness and consider clean toilets to be part of an eatery's ambience.

Ms Joey Soh, manager of 21 Street Eating House in Tampines, said the public has grown more aware of toilet cleanliness over the past five years.

She added: "We have an attendant to look after our toilets now and because of that, users are more conscious and help to take care of the toilets as well."

Although almost half of the respondents found it inappropriate to use a mobile phone in the toilet, about 70 per cent did so anyway, the survey showed.

They mainly sent text messages, sent e-mail or talked on their cellphones in the toilet.

Male toilets were rated dirtier than female toilets in the survey.

The RAS will be conducting more surprise checks from next year.

This may extend beyond toilets accredited by its Happy Toilet Programme to other public toilets. The Happy Toilet Programme rates public toilets based on criteria such as cleanliness and design.

It will also consult the public and hold focus group discussions to identify effective messaging to remind male users to keep toilets clean and to discourage people from using their mobile phones in public toilets.

For next year's World Toilet Day, it plans to work with sanitary product companies as well to offer discounts and to raise awareness about the association's work.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2015, with the headline 'Dirty eatery toilets a no-go for diners'. Print Edition | Subscribe