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Personal Washing at Work

This article is an extract from our booklet Diversity Matters - a guide to Best Practice in the Design of Multi-Faith rooms. To download a pdf copy of the full booklet, please click the image below

Diversity Matters brochure
Diversity Matters/

We are all used to washing our hands after using the toilet, and when we are out in public we expect toilet facilities to be equipped for this basic hygiene protocol, which most people accept as normal. When a toilet facility does not have adequate hand sinks, soap or drying facilities, it leaves the user feeling dissatisfied and uncomfortable.

However, did you know that some faiths also require the washing of intimate parts after using the toilet? This can be difficult for them to accomplish when away from home, where bidet facilities are rarely provided.  A person from those faiths will often find that public washroom facilities fall short of ideal for their needs.

There are many ways in which the needs of these people can be accommodated in a workplace, school or public building. It's an area that most people would be embarrassed to talk about or to ask for, but they would probably be delighted to know that someone had considered them, and that their needs were being catered for.

Bidets  

A conventional personal washing appliance in the home would often be a bidet, the personal nature of which dictates that it needs to be located in a private place.

This is rarely practical or cost-effective in a commercial environment - if a traditional bidet is installed in a public lavatory, there needs to be a one to one relationship between bidet to toilet, with both being located behind a locked door to ensure privacy. This is rarely cost-effective in a commercial or public sector environment.  

Personal Washing in the Workplace  

In order to undertake the required personal washing when away from home, some people will fill whatever container they can find (often a cup or water bottle) with water and take this to the privacy of a toilet cubicle to undertake this personal ablution act in private.

Using a single-use, plastic water bottle is environmentally unfriendly due to the wastage of plastic containers, or if the containers are returned after use, (such as a cup to a canteen) there is potentially a hygiene issue. In addition, when water containers are used in toilet areas, they can fall over causing spillages and result in slip hazards.  

If your workplace or facility has a number of users who would welcome improved personal washing facilities, there are several other options that could be considered such as the following:  

Douches  

In many Muslim countries, it is customary to install hand showers (douches) behind public toilets, enabling washing of private parts with water (as with a bidet) after toilet use. The disadvantage of douches in a public environment is that they can be (and often are) stolen for home use, and careless use may cause spilt water that could pose a slip hazard.

In addition, it should be noted that most douche products will drip water when left under pressure, i.e. not turned off at the mains supply. To alleviate this, it is recommended that installations include an isolator valve for each user to use before/after use, but on the assumption, users will not turn this off after use, it is recommended that each douche spray is fitted with a time-delay valve to automatically turn the water off after use. It is also recommended that an adequate floor drain be located under the hanging position of the douche spray.  

Bidet Toilets  

There are a number of electronic bidet toilets available in the market, primarily designed for medical applications in the health sector, and due to their electronic, complex nature, they tend to be more expensive and therefore used more in the home.   

Integrated Bidet  

Increasingly popular are conventional style western toilets with a hand-operated bidet spout installed under the rim at the back of the toilet. This is sometimes called a Turkish Toilet. Care should be taken to consult local building regulations since it is likely some sort of backflow prevention system will be required. 

Personal Bidets  

For environments where the installation and maintenance of douches and bidet toilets is impractical, facilities managers may consider the provision of personal bidets for staff and visitors. The WuduMate Personal is a low cost, reusable, plastic container specifically designed for use as a personal bidet, and an excellent solution where no other suitable appliance is available.  

The WuduMate Personal can be conveniently folded after use and carried compactly in its own self-sealable pouch for future use, negating the need for random use of single-use plastic bottles and other unsuitable containers.  

“I don't always have a mineral water bottle to hand when I need to wash, and taking cups of water into a toilet is not always practical. The WuduMate Personal is ideal! It can be easily carried in a pocket or handbag, holds almost a litre of water which is more than the small water bottles which I normally use. After use the WuduMate Personal can be easily folded away again for use next time.”

Moazzam Ali, Inventor of the WuduMate Personal

Personal Bidet Dispensers  

As employers become more familiar with the personal washing requirements of their staff, some are accepting that making an investment into readily available bidet facilities, will in the long term reduce water damage, avoid slip hazards and reduce cleaning costs, as well as increasing satisfaction amongst employees. Providing Personal Bidet dispensers in suitable locations, either on a pay basis or even free of charge, is an easy to justify option.  

When you travel abroad, you usually expect toilet facilities to be as you would hope to find them at home. How much do you think you would improve employee and user satisfaction and comfort, if you provided all of them with the kind of washing facilities that they are used to.

This article is one in a series that has been extracted from our booklet DIversity Matters -a guide to Best Practice in the Design of Multi-Faith rooms. You can download the whole booklet, or read other articles in this series here:

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