Bathroom Partition Materials and How to Clean Them
Can you guess what almost all types of public facilities have in common, including businesses, schools, office buildings, stores and so on? The number one customer complaint is often the same, and you can probably already guess what that complaint is. That’s right — dirty restrooms. Few things are more frustrating to a customer than coming into a public bathroom and finding it visibly dirty.
Rules and regulations for how often restrooms need to be cleaned differ from community to community and from state to state. Generally speaking, however, every public restroom is expected to be cleaned at least once a day. And yet still, almost 30% of the Americans polled stated that they actively avoid public restrooms because of their reputation for being filled with germs.
Maybe the reason public restrooms maintain their less-than-ideal reputation is because the entire restroom isn’t always cleaned thoroughly. After all, restroom cleaning is about more than just cleaning the toilets, the floors and the sinks. The partitions that divide between the stalls need to be cleaned regularly, too.
This might raise all kinds of questions in your head. “How do I clean toilet partitions? What do I use to clean my toilet partitions? Are there specific products designed to clean bathroom stall partitions?”
These are all valid questions. After all, bathroom partitions come in a wide range of materials and varieties. Is there one magic cleaning product that is perfect for every bathroom partition? Does every kind of partition need its own cleaning product? What about special cases where nothing really seems to be doing the trick?
Luckily for you, we’ve got your questions covered. Consider this your one-stop guide to all questions about how to clean your bathroom partitions.
Ready? Let’s get started by looking at each type of partition material separately and the best ways to clean them.
Stainless Steel Partitions
Stainless steel is an extremely common choice for bathroom partitions because it’s so durable. It also tends to be non-corrosive, thanks to a very thin layer of film on the surface of the metal. Even if this film gets scratched, it will naturally reform as long as there’s plenty of oxygen.
It’s best to wipe down these stainless steel partitions on a daily basis, using warm water and a mild soap. The ideal choice of detergent would be diluted ammonia soap. The cloth you’re using to wipe down the partitions shouldn’t be dripping wet. Rather, it should be wrung out and just damp enough to wipe away any dirt that’s collected on the surface. Give the partitions a rinse in clean water afterward to get rid of any traces of the soap.
Are you facing tougher stains and marks where that gentle soap just isn’t quite cutting it? Not to worry. There are other solutions, too.
- Dirt buildup: Look for a metal cleaning solution that’s specifically designed for cleaning stainless steel surfaces
- Grease or oil stains: Try a solution of water, detergent and a solvent such as kerosene.
- Mineral deposits: These are going to need to be scrubbed off with a cleaning powder that’s a bit more abrasive, such as Ajax.
When cleaning your stainless steel partitions, it’s important to remember to always rub in the direction of the grain of the finish so you can avoid any scarring of the surface.
When it comes to cleaning stainless steel partitions, there are a couple of cleaning products that are definite no-nos. Never use any cleaning product that contains bleach, acid or alkali. Some examples include toilet bowl cleaner or tile cleaners. These kinds of products will ruin the stainless finish of the partition and leave lots of little brown spots behind in the affected area.
These spots might look like rust, but that’s not the case as stainless steel is naturally rust-resistant. They are very hard to remove, however, so it’s best to be very careful when using any of these types of cleaners near your stainless steel partitions. Even a small splash can stain them.
It’s also a good idea to avoid any kind of steel wool or harsh scrubbing pads. These can also disturb the smooth finish and result in a scarred surface. Once the stainless steel surface is ruined like this, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to return to its original state.
You can, however, use soft rags or cleaning cloths to polish and clean stainless steel. These types of materials are generally gentle enough that they won’t ruin the smooth stainless finish.
Powder-Coated Steel Partitions
Powder-coated steel partitions are another common type of partitions. Similar to the stainless steel, they’re resistant to rust and corrosion and are extremely durable. They’re made by steel sheets that have been coated with a protective layer of zinc before being cemented and formed together. What does this mean for your cleaning process?
As with the stainless steel, your best bet for a regular cleaning is a combination of warm water and a gentle detergent. Your ideal rag is a soft cloth or a cleaning sponge. After cleaning, rinse off the partitions with clean water to remove any remaining moisture.
For powder-coated steel partitions, it’s also a good idea to perform the extra measure of giving them a periodic wax. This extra sealant helps maintain the smooth finish of the partition.
What about special cases here, where a little extra cleaning seems to be in order?
- Stubborn dirt: Remove with a gentle cloth or a paper towel.
- Grease spots: Warm water and a gentle cleaning solution should do the trick. Make sure to wipe off any extra moisture when you’re done to prevent more spots from forming.
- Graffiti: Take extra care to use a specialized graffiti cleaner designed for powder-coated surfaces. Most commercial graffiti cleaners are NOT designed for this type of surface, so take careful note of which cleaner you use.
Again, you’re going to want to steer clear of those harsh cleaning products. They have a high potential for damaging the finish, chipping the paint and otherwise scratching the surface of the partition. Gentle cleaners are going to be your best bet here as well.
Solid Phenolic Core Partitions
Solid phenolic core partitions are a bit different than the first two types of partitions we’ve looked at. These partitions are many layers of paper that have been soaked in a phenolic resin. This resin core provides the benefit of water resistance, meaning you can feel free to hose these types of partitions down.
Again, your standard daily cleaning routine should consist of a gentle cloth and a mixture of warm water and a mild detergent or soap. If the partition is a textured surface, try using a soft brush to clean with.
More difficult concerns?
- Crayon, lipstick or other mystery stains that don’t want to come off: A general cleaner should work. If that fails, try a degreasing agent. Still not working? Try using a mixture of baking soda and water. Consider using a soft-bristled brush instead of a cloth if the cloth doesn’t seem to be quite getting at the stains.
- Even tougher stains: You still want to stay away from the really intense cleaners. But it’s all right to use a slightly more powerful cleaner than your gentle soap. Look for a bathroom cleaner that has an acetic acid to try to remove the stains.
- Graffiti: Unfortunately, a regular cleaner probably won’t get the job done. You’ll need a dedicated graffiti cleaner.
After using any of these cleaning products, be sure rinse and dry when you’re done. Another great technique to try is to give these partitions a regular cleaning with furniture polish. This helps keep them in top condition.
As usual, you’ll want to keep well away from any harsh, bleach-based cleaners. They’re almost certain to cause permanent damage and discoloration to your solid phenolic core partitions.
Plastic Laminate Partitions
These types of partitions are crafted from particle board and given a plastic laminated surface to finish them. They actually have a lot in common with the phenolic core partitions. Because of this, the cleaning process for these laminate partitions is very similar.
For basic cleaning and for removing low-level stains and smudges, stick to a mild cleaning agent and a gentle cloth or a soft-bristled brush. Remember to rinse and dry.
If you’re facing off against more stubborn stains, you’ll need something a little stronger. Again, a good choice is a cleaner that contains acetic acid. Use a cloth or a soft brush to clean before rinsing and drying.
It’s still best to stay away from intensely abrasive cleaning agents, as they will permanently damage and discolor your laminated partitions. Even certain harsh polishes can lead to a residue-like buildup if used over time.
In the case of these laminated partitions, hosing them down is not recommended. Absorbing too much water could cause these partitions to lose their lamination. Even when cleaning, it’s a good idea to use a cloth that’s been mostly wrung out and is only slightly damp.
Similar to the phenolic core partitions, it’s a good idea to use an occasional coat of furniture wax on these types of partitions. It helps keep them looking new and fresh.
Solid Plastic Partitions
Also known as high-density polymer partitions, these plastic partitions are a common choice for bathroom stalls. They don’t rust, and they’re resistant to water damage as well. Because of this, they’re easy to clean. They can be hosed down without incident, and this is a recommended procedure. Performed on a regular basis, this can help keep them a little bit cleaner overall.
For basic cleaning, the standard procedures apply. Use a mild soap, warm water and a gentle cloth. Always rinse and dry after cleaning.
For some of those tougher stains that a gentle cleaner won’t touch, try a non-abrasive industrial strength cleaner. You can also mix a DIY cleaner by combining the following items
- Half a cup of common household detergent
- Two-thirds of a cup of trisodium phosphate
- One gallon of water
Wondering if you can use those abrasive cleaners yet? Unfortunately, the answer’s still no. Even though the consequences of using these types of cleaners on plastic aren’t as drastic as they are on other types of materials, it’s still not recommended. If you do use those types of cleaners, your plastic partition won’t stay in its original condition for long.
If you’re finding scratches in your plastic partitions, there’s an easy trick to fix that. Take a spoon, or any similarly shaped and sized instrument. Rub the spoon firmly over the scratch, rubbing with the grain of the scratch, not against it. This small amount of pressure should be enough to blend the plastic to remove the scratch.
Resistall Plastic Partitions
This type of partition is one of the easiest types to clean. They aren’t solid material all the way through, meaning they can’t absorb water. This makes them great for hosing down and power-washing.
Beyond this, the standard cleaning methods apply. If you’re only looking at basic cleaning and small stains, your typical warm water and gentle soap solution should get the job done. If you’re fighting stronger stains, try a non-abrasive industrial strength cleaner or try the recipe above.
You would be best advised to stay away from any of those harsh cleaners. They won’t damage the functionality of the partitions, but they will cause extensive aesthetic damage.
Some General Rules of Thumb
I’m sure you’ve noticed the patterns that are emerging here. While each type of partitions has its own rules and its own do’s and don’ts, there are a few rules that are generally consistent across all material types:
- For your daily generic cleaning routine, there’s no need to get fancy. It’s best to stick to a solution of warm water mixed with a gentle detergent or soap. Rub this into the partition with a soft cloth or a rag.
- Never clean your partitions with any kind of harsh, abrasive cleaning agent. This includes all cleaners that contain bleach or acid. This is important because these types of cleaning agents are common among toilet bowl cleaners and the like. When working with these cleaners, you want to be especially careful that no cleaner splashes up and comes into contact with the partitions.
- Avoid steel wool or aggressive scrubbing brushes. These will damage the smooth finishes on many bathroom partitions and create scratches and chips in the paint.
- After you’re done cleaning, always be sure to rinse the partition with clean warm water and carefully dry it. Leaving any dampness behind could result in water damage or stains.
You don’t need specifically designed bathroom partition stall cleaners. Use these steps as guidelines and keep in mind the special cases for each type of partition material as outlined here, and you’ll be well on your way to having the cleanest bathroom partitions around.
But of course, even the best, cleanest partitions eventually need replacing. When it comes time to replace your bathroom partitions, consider paying a visit to One Point Partition. We’ve been expertly installing partitions of a wide variety of materials for over a decade. Not only are we one of the largest distributors in the country, but we’re also backed by a factory that delivers thousands of stall partitions every year. Feel free to give us a call at 800-756-6817.