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Bad smells are associated with uncleanliness © iStock

01 March 2018 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal


Seventy-three per cent of British people say an unpleasant smell in the washroom would negatively influence their perception of a venue.


And almost two-thirds of respondents agree that a bad smell would make them less likely to spend money with that company, according to research by Initial Washroom Hygiene.


Its study, Washroom Malodour: Experiences, Perceptions and Implications for Businesses, is based on 5,000 respondents (1,000 across the UK, Australia, France, Italy, Malaysia) and examines the state of air care in public and office washrooms, and the wide-ranging implications this can have for businesses.


As well as emotional responses to unpleasant smells, bad washroom experiences can negatively affect reputation and repeat custom, it reveals.


More than six in 10 would be put off a business if it had unpleasant-smelling bathrooms and almost a quarter have been embarrassed about a client or visitor using their bathrooms because of the smell. Comparing retail environments with office space, 25 per cent of those surveyed reported that cafés, bars and restaurants have cleaner washrooms than their place of work.


Although almost everyone has experienced malodours in the washroom, in the UK, three-quarters felt disgusted when noticing an unpleasant smell, with almost a quarter saying it left them “fearful of getting sick”. Malodour is strongly associated with uncleanliness (79 per cent), poor hygiene (75 per cent) and bacteria (60 per cent).


The report then suggests that “unsurprisingly, this leads to emotive responses, including opting to leave or not return to an establishment (51 per cent), complaining to the owner or manager (25 per cent) or posting a bad review online (6 per cent)”.