Churches, synagogues, mosques, and other various temples are all staples within their communities. Members of all ages, ranging from infants to senior citizens, gather regularly to pray and receive guidance for their daily lives. Places of worship keep their doors open to everyone and have evolved with the rest of society, as many offer more than just religious services. These establishments serve a large, diverse population, so it must accommodate for the wide range of people who may visit.
In the United States, there are approximately a total of 350,000 congregations that represent varying religions. Each week, about 180 people attend each of the 338,000 Catholic and Christian churches for mass. This equates to about 20.4% of the US population. The number of services and length of time varies depending on the establishment and its location. Churches often have mass 3-4 times on Sundays and once on Saturday for 30-60 minutes. By contrast, Shabbat services in a synagogue can last 3-4 hours, with worshippers sometimes arriving and leaving at their own leisure. Others may even visit their place of worship multiple times a day or week to pray, and stay for various amounts of time.
Most visitors use the bathroom right before services begin, during a short break, or shortly before they leave. Outfitting restrooms with the proper appliances will keep everyone comfortable and ensure that their needs are met. Users do not want to touch anything in the restroom and will appreciate an automatic flush that keeps them from needing to touch the handle. When washing their hands, users will feel cared for when they can simply place their hands under the soap dispenser, activate the water faucet with a simple movement, and even dry their hands with a gentle wave. Freeing users from having to touch any handles, buttons or push bars can help to accommodate for the rush by streamlining the bathroom process, preventing cross-contamination, and reducing the amount of mess and wasted product. When a person touches any surface, she or he will pick up 30-50% of the microbes on it.
Both genders have their own needs in the restroom. Women will feel reassured if they have a solution at the ready for feminine emergencies and that the proper disposal for napkins and tampons is always available. An appropriate waste receptacle will eliminate the risk of women flushing feminine hygiene products that could potentially clog toilets and pipes. This is a common problem, as two-thirds of drain blockages are caused by sanitary waste. In the men’s room, preventing splash-back with urinal screens will give users a hygienic experience while also protecting floors from unsightly spills and damage. Keeping floors clean and dry is necessary in preventing slip-and-fall accidents, maintaining odor control, and preserving floor tiles.
As all ages and families often attend worship services together, resources parents need for their infants and young children should be available as well. Parents need to a safe and dry place to change their babies’ diapers and an enclosed unit to dispose them. For families with multiple children, having a secure place to keep one child while the other has a diaper change can also be a relief. Chuck Lawless, the Dean and Vice President of Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary has cited lack of family provisions, “particularly in the men’s room” as a problem with many churches. Making these necessities available is a way for churches and other places of worship to make themselves more inviting for young couples.
Besides prayer, people turn to their places of worship for all kinds of help and are involved in other ways. Many establishments also provide various forms of counseling, community outreach services, food pantries, group meetings for teenagers and adults, and seminars on health, finance, and other necessities of life. These programs are aimed at the entire community and welcome all to attend. With the potential for a large number of people to come through, it may be necessary to sanitize commonly touched surfaces to keep everyone healthy and reduce cross-contamination. Viruses, like the flu, can live on a hard, smooth surface for 2-8 hours and spread to more than half of frequently shared surfaces in just 2-4 hours.
Places of worship are open to everyone and need to be prepared for whoever may walk in. The right restroom hygiene services can help to maintain sanitary conditions and make congregation members more comfortable.