In this lesson, we'll review the proper steps required to service a portable restroom clean and odor-free during the winter months.
Step 1: Disinfect
To get started, we’ll first suit up in the appropriate PPE including rubber gloves and safety glasses. Next, we’ll grab our disinfectant from the truck and proceed to spray it on all key points of contact before servicing and cleaning the unit. This includes the outside door handle first and then the inside door panels, toilet paper holder, supply dispensers, toilet, and tank. It's important to note that on excessively cold days the disinfectant may quickly freeze up. If this should occur, we will omit this step to avoid freezing that may cause slippery surfaces. Once the unit is sprayed with disinfectant, we’ll head back to the truck and proceed to the next step.
Step 2: Prewash
Next, we’ll grab the urinal cleaner and graffiti blaster solution from the side of our truck. Using these products, we’ll spray down the urinal with the urinal cleaner and any graffiti on the inside or outside of the unit using the graffiti blaster solution. We’ll let these chemicals penetrate for a few seconds and then wipe them off so that the liquids don’t freeze.
Step 3: Pump
While the urinal cleaner and graffiti blaster work their magic, we’ll then proceed to evacuate the waste tank. This is done by utilizing the PTO powered suction hose located on the side of our truck. When activated, we’ll need to remove all debris from inside the tank including rocks, ice, bottles, cans, clothing, and other garbage. It’s also important to remove any floor debris including loose toilet paper, chunks of mud, or even wrappers. If there is frozen water, snow, or mud in the restroom, that will also need to be removed with a scraper or shovel. If the floor has an excess amount of water on it, you may want to use an old towel to dry it up as well to prevent future slip hazards.
As you can imagine, working with water in the winter months becomes increasingly difficult, especially when the temperature dips below freezing for days on end. With this in mind, it’s important that we always do our best to break up any ice that may have accumulated inside the waste holding tank by using the end of the wand, then by sucking up as much as possible.
Frozen-Full: If you find yourself working with a restroom that is full (or almost full) and frozen solid, this method probably won’t work; therefore, we’ll need to contact dispatch to have this unit exchanged on the next business day by a P&D driver. It’s important to note that fully frozen units will need to be exchanged only by those who are driving a hybrid or stake bed truck, equipped with a lift gate. These units should never be hoisted onto a trailer or tailgate rack by hand. They are extremely heavy and could cause serious injury without an assisted lift.
Frozen-Minimal Use: On occasion, you may come across a restroom that is frozen, but was only used lightly, meaning the tank is mostly free of waste and debris. For situations like these, we’ll forgo an exchange and add salt and some winter mix to the top of the waste in the tank to help it thaw out. We’ll then note it on our tablet for future reference and then proceed with the remaining steps of the cleaning procedure.
Step 4: Prime
Once the waste tank has been evacuated, it’s time to prime the unit and get it ready for new usage. To do this, we’ll first add 6-8 ounces of liquid blue to the tank. We’ll then add an additional coat of urinal cleaner and scrub if the first round doesn’t do the trick.
Next, we’ll head to our truck to grab a bottle of windshield fluid and a towel. We’ll then spray the walls and all major surfaces including the top of the seat, tank, and lid. We’ll then use the towel to wipe down all of these major surfaces. Never use methanol water or salt brine for this step in the winter. When using the windshield fluid, always do your best to keep usage to a minimum. This will help prevent excessive runoff which can eventually turn into ice, causing a slip hazard for future patrons. We’ll also want to avoid spraying the floors as this can also cause a slip hazard. Instead, you’ll want to use a “dry-brush” to keep the floor debris free. A dry-brush will also help reduce the potential for moisture to build up create slip hazards. "If there is excessive build up on the floor, a small amount of water may be used but please use a rag to dry the floor before leaving the site"
Once all of these steps have been completed, we’ll need to fill the waste tank with 5 gallons of methanol water or pre-mixed salt water, depending on which is on your truck. Never, I repeat, never fill the waste tank with regular fresh water during the winter months unless instructed to do so on your work order.
As an additional final step in our winter cleaning procedure, we’ll need to add one scoop of rock salt to the urinal as an added precaution to help keep the units from freezing until their next scheduled service.
Step 5: Dry
Now that we’ve properly washed and primed the unit, it’s important to towel-dry the top of the waste tank, toilet paper dispenser, and the toilet seat as a courtesy to the patrons who can (and often) will use the unit right after service. No cabana spray is required during the winter months.
Step 6: Restock
Now that we’ve cleaned the unit, it’s time to restock the supplies as needed. This includes toilet paper for basic restrooms with the addition of soap and paper towels for deluxe or standard units. A simple 2 roll TP dispenser must have a minimum of 1.5 rolls, while a 3 roll TP dispenser must have a minimum of 2.5 full rolls. Some customer accounts will also specify that you fill the hand sanitizer. On these accounts, you’ll need to inspect the hand sanitizer dispenser bag and change when it’s less than 1/4 of the way full.
Step 7: Sign & Date
After the unit is cleaned and restocked, it’s important that we confirm that we were onsite. This proof comes by signing the date sticker. When performing this step, we’ll remove our gloves to prevent cross contamination. Also note, if there’s no sticker, one must be added. All routed equipment must have a date sticker. We can always overlay a new sticker as long as there are no more than 3 date stickers stacked on the unit. Remember, without initials and date, there’s a good chance the customer will call back and request that we return to reservice the unit. As you can imagine, can be quite frustrating after we’ve already done the work.
Step 8: Review
Finally, we’ll inspect and repair any non-functioning equipment such as urinals, dispensers, and/or doors. Before leaving, we’ll also make sure to inspect decals on all four sides, as they should be clear and easy to read.