Public restrooms are a necessity for everyone, but they can also be a source of discomfort, disgust, and disease. The cleanliness of a public restroom can affect the image of a business, the health of its customers and employees, and the environment. However, finding a clean and accessible public restroom in the U.S. is not always easy.
According to a “Public Toilet Index” released in August 2021 by the U.K. bathroom supply company QS Supplies and the online toilet-finding tool PeePlace, the U.S. has only eight toilets per 100,000 people overall — tied with Botswana. This is far below the global average of 27 toilets per 100,000 people, and much lower than countries like Japan (92), France (64), and Germany (60).
The lack of public restrooms in the U.S. has been criticized by human rights experts, who say that it violates the right to sanitation and dignity. The shortage of public restrooms also disproportionately affects vulnerable groups, such as people experiencing homelessness, people with disabilities, pregnant women, elderly people, and children.
The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem of public restrooms in the U.S., as many facilities were closed or neglected due to infection fears and budget cuts. This left many people with no place to go, forcing them to resort to unsanitary and unsafe alternatives, such as bottles, buckets, or diapers. Public urination complaints also spiked in some cities, especially during mass protests in the summer of 2020.
The solution: a toilet seat cleaner dispenser
A new product aims to make public restrooms cleaner and safer for everyone. It is a toilet seat cleaner dispenser that allows users to spray a sanitizing solution on the toilet seat before using it. The product is called Doqi, and it is developed by a company based in California.
The idea of a toilet seat cleaner dispenser is not new, as it is already a common feature in public restrooms in Europe and Asia. However, it is still rare in the U.S., where most people rely on toilet paper or disposable seat covers to protect themselves from germs and dirt.
The creators of Doqi claim that their product is more effective and eco-friendly than these methods. They say that their sanitizing solution kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses on contact, leaving the toilet seat clean and fresh. They also say that their product reduces paper waste and water consumption, as well as plastic pollution from disposable seat covers.
Doqi is designed to be easy to use and install. Users simply press a button on the dispenser to spray the solution on the toilet seat, then wipe it with toilet paper or a tissue. The dispenser can be attached to any wall or surface near the toilet, without requiring any plumbing or electrical work. The dispenser can hold up to 500 ml of solution, which can last for about 250 uses.
The market: healthcare facilities
The target market for Doqi is healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and dental offices. The company believes that these places have a high demand for hygiene and safety, as well as a high risk of infection and contamination.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in 31 hospital patients gets an infection during their stay. Some of these infections are caused by pathogens that can survive on surfaces for long periods of time, such as Clostridioides difficile (C. diff), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and norovirus. These pathogens can be transmitted through contact with contaminated objects or surfaces, such as toilet seats.
The company hopes that by providing Doqi to healthcare facilities, they can help prevent the spread of these infections and improve the quality of care for patients and staff. They also hope that by offering a cleaner and more comfortable restroom experience, they can enhance the reputation and satisfaction of their clients.
The feedback: looking for opinions from Americans
The company is looking for feedback from Americans about their product. They have posted their product on Reddit’s r/business subreddit, asking for opinions from potential customers and entrepreneurs.
They want to know what Americans think of their product in general, and whether they would use it or recommend it to others. They also want to know how they can sell their product to healthcare facilities, and what challenges or opportunities they might face.
Some of the comments on their post are positive and supportive, praising their product for being innovative and useful. Some commenters say that they would love to see Doqi in public restrooms across the U.S., especially in places like airports, malls, and schools. Some commenters also suggest that they could partner with existing restroom service providers, such as Cintas or Kimberly-Clark, to distribute their product.
However, some of the comments are negative and skeptical, questioning the need and viability of their product. Some commenters say that they are not bothered by the cleanliness of public restrooms, and that they prefer to use their own wipes or sanitizer. Some commenters also doubt that healthcare facilities would be interested in their product, as they already have strict cleaning protocols and regulations. Some commenters also warn them about the legal and logistical challenges of entering the U.S. market, such as patents, liability, and competition.
The company is grateful for all the feedback they have received, and they are taking it into consideration as they plan their next steps. They are confident that their product has a potential to make a difference in the U.S., and they are eager to share it with more people.