WE can tell a dirty toilet when we see (or smell) one. Urine traces, clogged sinks, failed flushing systems are among the the physical evidence, while the stench is a dead giveaway. So, how are the toilets rated?
My grandmother liked to ask the hosts to use their bathroom (we call it bilik air instead of tandas) whenever we visited our relatives or family friends. I found it odd because we would have just arrived and these homes were not that far from my grandmother's house.
I remember her telling me that you can see through the hosts by the look of their toilet. I found her answer weird until she elaborated that the toilets mirror the owner's personality.
"An organised person will not leave inappropriate items around, a meticulous person will always make sure that that the toiletries arranged in one corner and will make sure that the toilet is always clean," she said.
I guess the same applies with public toilets.
The Housing and Local Government Ministry's toilets' checklist revealed that there's an easier way to check on its cleanliness levels. The checklist gives scores on various components and the total will reflect its rating and whether the toilet is deemed clean or otherwise.
The toilets are also checked to see if everything is in order and the total score determines the star-rating they get. So far, the cleanest public toilet I can remember based on the checklist by the ministry is the one at Ampang Jaya Municipal Council's headquarters in Pandan Indah.
I found the cleanliness level there consistent. I have never seen the floor dirty nor wet. There's always a supply of tissues and its dispenser is always in working order.
In addition, the council staff also go the extra mile to educate visitors by posting reminders in the toilet, including inside the cubicles.
Sometimes we tend to forget the simplest of things like hooking back the hose to its handle. Both toilet owners and its users have to share the responsibility of keeping toilets clean.
This may also be attributed to the workplace organisation method 5S (Sorting, Shine or straightening out, Sweeping or Shining, Standardising, and Sustaining the Practice) derived from Japanese words Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu and Shitsuke. Under the practice, each staff is responsible to an assigned corner or spot, including the toilets. Only when we treat the toilets as our own can we see some changes.
Some toilet users don't even bother to see if the tissue they had used was properly discarded into the bin or had landed on the floor.
Although it may seem unnecessary, I always test the flush and turn on the taps to see if they work before I use the toilets. And if I may suggest, the authorities should provide some space, maybe online, for the public to comment or report on the state of the toilets they had visited.
We can't easily forget (or forgive) a dirty toilet. However, instead of listing dirty toilets, the public can also commend those which are kept clean as an example for others to follow.