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Your ultimate school washroom guide
School washroom guide toilet cubicles design

Creating a safe, healthy and pleasant environment for your school washrooms comes down to a handful of key factors:

This guide provides an array of useful resources, including a collection of school toilet floor plans and free hygiene motivational posters.

This guide was developed by Fresh & Clean to provide you with the best information for your school washroom hygiene practices.

Fresh & Clean is a worldwide washroom hygiene service provider delivering effective hygiene systems to thousands of businesses and organisations across New Zealand.

With 50 years of experience in the business, we’ve honed a tried-and-true strategy that produces spotless hygiene results.

Get Professional Help from Fresh & Clean

Keeping your school’s washroom fittings in good working order is one thing.

But kids touch everything. They’re the perfect vector for spreading infection.

Which is why our mission is to help you promote a safe and hygienic school environment.

Our rental program delivers cleanliness and safety right to your door with a clear focus on energy-efficient, eco-friendly products.

A single monthly fee. And we do all refills and maintenance.

It’s that easy.

School washroom guide school washroom requirements

School Washroom Requirements

What Washroom Facilities Should New Zealand Schools Provide?

Use the following checklist to ensure your school meets the required school washroom standards.

To achieve an acceptable standard and meet all users’ needs, schools should provide:

Accessibility to adequate, and sufficiently private, toilet facilities for male and female users

Easy access to sufficient unisex or mixed-gender toilets for students with special needs.

Unrestricted access to a toilet, whenever needed – always allow all children access to a toilet during school hours.

Properly equipped washroom facilities created with student age in mind, providing adequate ventilation, lighting, fittings and washroom accessories.

Sanitary disposal bins in all female cubicles, where age appropriate, serviced regularly.

Conveniently placed toilet tissue dispensers, restocked regularly during normal school hours.

Access to hot water, ideally from a mixer tap, with wall-mounted soap dispensers and hand drying facilities.

An effective washroom sanitising regimen to ensure clean, hygienic facilities at all times.

Dual access to washrooms and effective supervision regime to discourage anti-social behaviour.

Communication platform for students, parents and staff to submit washroom-related feedback to school management.

An effective school toilet management policy that addresses the main toilet issues, communicated to the whole-school community.

What Are the Main Health and Safety Concerns in New Zealand School Washrooms?

If your school was to be audited for the levels of its washroom hygiene, what would they find?

No school wants to be singled out or receive a parent’s letter of complaint about the school’s toilet conditions.

The washroom is one of the most frequented spaces in your school, mostly by students but also by parents when they’re in for parent-teacher appointments and any other visitors.

You want your school to make a good first impression. Having a well-kept washroom isn’t only about cleanliness, it’s about maintaining your school’s reputation.

Here are some of the complaints you may get and how to address them.

  • “Some wash basins had tap water too hot.“
  • Make sure your hot water doesn’t exceed 43 degrees Celsius – the safest maximum temperature that minimises the risk of scalding. Use mixer taps whenever possible, so students can easily set a comfortable temperature that encourages regular hand washing.
  • “Some toilets are deficient in gender signs or they aren’t prominent enough to show whether facilities are to be used by girls or boys.“
  • Inadequate signage is easily solved by downloading free toilet gender signs and installing them at the appropriate height.
  • “Many children avoid using toilets because they are dirty, which can lead to incontinence and dehydration.“
  • “Holding it in” has been linked to dehydration and constipation, as well as poor concentration and recurrent urinary tract infections in children. So make sure to maintain your school washrooms regularly and promote regular toilet use among students. Contact the New Zealand Continence Association and use their Toilet Tactics kit to raise awareness of healthy bladder and bowel habits in your school.
  • “There are not enough hygiene supplies available, such as paper towel units and liquid soap dispensers.“
  • There’s no proper school hygiene without proper hygiene supplies. Be sure to maintain washroom standards by appointing one of your staff as a facility manager to ensure facilities are well-stocked at all times during school hours. Alternatively, let the professionals take care of it for you. Renting washroom accessories is the quickest and cleanest solution, especially if you have large facilities to run. Fresh & Clean manages everything for just a few dollars a dayOur powerful germ-fighting hygiene products help keep your students healthy, happy and productive, even during the flu season. Have a look at our managed rental hygiene program today. Your school will thank you.
  • “Sanitary disposal bins aren’t equally accessible in all female toilets.“
  • Sanitary towel disposal units should be installed in all female cubicles where age appropriate, including primary and secondary schools, and should be regularly serviced.
  • “Toilet cubicle design is inadequate and potentially dangerous.“
  • Floor-to-ceiling cubicle doors allow for added privacy, but they can compromise children’s safety. The case of a boy’s tragic death at Napier school in 2016 turned the spotlight on designing school toilet cubicles with ceiling level space for added safety. Where possible, install cubicles with ceiling level space that ensures emergency access and discourages antisocial behaviour.

School washroom guide washroom construction configuraton

Washroom Construction & Configuration

How Many Toilet (WC) Pans and Washbasins Does Your School Need in New Zealand?

New Zealand’s Ministry of Education’s regulations don’t specify the minimum requirement for toilet (WC) pans and washbasins in schools. However, there are government guidelines that serve as a reference when designing or refurbishing school washrooms.

Here are the general requirements for school washrooms required by the Compliance Document for New Zealand Building Code.

This table helps calculate the required number of toilets for staff and students, as well as the ideal staff and student toilet ratio.

School washroom guide toilet washbasin table

What Are the Standard School Toilet Cubicle Sizes for New Zealand Schools?

School sanitary facilities should be designed specifically for children.

  • Fixtures, fittings and toilet accessories should be placed at a suitable height.
  • Cubicles should be sized according to different age groups using them.

The Ministry of Education’s Reference Design Guide (2017) recommends that “Toilet doors shall have a 25mm undercut to allow for make-up air to the cubicle.”

Here are the recommended measurements of toilet cubicle doors and walls in relation to different median heights within different age groups.

Cubicle Measurements for Ages 3 – 7 Suitable for:

  • Nurserie
  • Preschools
  • Daycare Centres

*Median height of 3 – 5-year-olds: girls 1,007mm; boys 1,020m

Cubicle Measurements for Ages 5 – 9 Suitable for:

  • Primary Schools
  • Intermediate Schools

*Median height of 7-year-olds: girls 1,252mm, boys 1,266mm

Cubicle Measurements for Ages 9+ Suitable for:

  • Secondary Schools
  • Universities
  • Staff Washroom

*Median height of 12-year-olds: girls 1,553mm, boys 1,540mm

Cubicle Measurements for Ages 13+ Suitable for:

  • Secondary Schools
  • Universities
  • Staff Washroom
  • Used for enhanced privacy

*Median height of 15-year-olds girls 1,671mm, boys 1,744mm

– Median heights taken from onaverage.com.uk

Recommended Toilet Cubicle Configurations for New Zealand Schools

Washroom Wall Panels Sizes

Daycare/Preschool Washroom Design Suggestions

Daycare/Preschool Washroom Guidelines

Daycare | Preschools | Children’s Centres | Ages 2 – 5

Unisex washrooms are acceptable for pupils under 8 years old

Staff toilets should be self-contained units separated from the children’s toilet area

Lower toilet pans and washbasins are recommended for independent toilet use

Use self-closing taps to reduce the risk of the sinks overflowing

Hygienic changing facilities are required for children in nappies

Liquid soap dispensers and disposable paper towels are the most hygienic option

Install equal numbers of toilets and washbasins

Avoid installing urinals at this age

Design layouts for daycare/preschool washrooms must conform to the industry standard which meets the recommendations for early-age child-care facilities.

Ensure your chosen design will stand up to the rough and tumble of pre-school kids.

When it comes to washroom design for daycare and preschool centres, use:

  • Scaled down toilet cubicles for easy supervision
  • Low toilet pans to avoid the need for toilet seat adaptors used in home environments
  • Curved cubicle design and vibrant colour choices to add fun and playfulness and create a positive learning environment
  • Sealed and rounded edges to protect against moisture and enhance durability
  • Toilet cubicle doors fitted with magnetic door catches so small fingers aren’t harmed

Primary School Washroom Design Suggestions

Primary School Washroom Guidelines

Ages 5 – 11

Separate toilet facilities should be provided for boys and girls over 8 years old

Staff toilets should be self-contained units separated from the children toilet area

Liquid soap dispensers and disposable paper towels are the most hygienic to use

Fit all female cubicles with sanitary disposal units where age appropriate

Install equal numbers of toilets and washbasins

Provide cubicles that can be locked from the inside

Use self-closing taps to reduce the risk of the sinks overflowing

Urinals aren’t recommended except if the modesty screens are used

In a busy primary school, you should prepare for the unexpected in your school toilets. Use:

  • Safe, well-lit and well-ventilated facilities
  • Finger-trap safety hinges with a gap between the door and panel to avoid finger injuries
  • Tamper-proof design and lockable toilet cubicles for child safety
  • Rounded and sealed edges for added durability and moisture protection
  • Balanced cubicle dimensions to allow for child privacy and adult supervision
  • Robust, easy-to-use fixtures and fittings
  • Scaled-down toilet cubicles to reduce bullying and anti-social behaviour
  • Cubicle materials offering maximum resistance to graffiti and vandalism

Secondary School Washroom Design Suggestions

Secondary School Washroom Guidelines

Ages 11+

Separate toilet facilities should be provided for boys and girls over 8 years old

Staff toilets should be self-contained units separated from the children toilet area

Liquid soap dispensers and disposable paper towels are the most hygienic to use

Use self-closing taps to reduce the risk of the sinks overflowing

Fit all female cubicles with sanitary disposal units where age appropriate

Provide cubicles that can be locked from the inside

Install equal numbers of toilets and washbasins

Urinals aren’t recommended except if the modesty screens are used

Secondary school washrooms require more robust toilet fittings and hardware designed to take a lot of wear and tear. To keep your toilet facilities safe, clean and in working order, use:

  • Tamper-proof design for children safety
  • Robust, easy to use fixtures and fittings
  • Anti-rust fittings and low maintenance materials with antibacterial properties
  • Glazed doors in toilet lobby areas for passive supervision purposes
  • Scaled down toilet cubicles to hinder bullying and unacceptable behaviour
  • Cubicle doors with 300mm high stainless steel kick-proof panels
  • Cubicle materials offering maximum resistance to graffiti and vandalism

Disabled Washroom Guidelines

Applicable to all schools and ages

Travel distance to disabled toilets should be reasonable

They can be used by visitors, staff and other pupils

They should be able to be locked from the inside

They should be available at each school building floor

Disabled toilets are self-contained units usually placed separately from other washrooms

Toilet design should include appropriate grab rails

The one-on-one toilet-washbasin ratio should be applied

The disabled toilet door should open outwardly into a circulation space

Wheelchair and Ambulant Disabled Cubicle Configurations

School washroom guide health safety recommendations

Health & Safety Recommendations

The Best School Washroom Hygiene and Safety Practices – Complete Checklist

Putting a large number of children in a school environment creates ideal conditions for spreading infectious diseases. Getting school washroom hygiene right is the first line of defense in the fight against disease.

A New Zealand survey of 68 schools in the South Island revealed that only 28 per cent provided warm water, liquid soap at every basin and functional hand drying facilities.

These results are concerning given that providing students with appropriate washroom facilities is the key ingredient in preventing the spread of colds, flu and gastro bugs.

The following washroom hygiene advice will help you maintain a healthier and happier school environment.

1. Choose easy-to-clean school washroom design

It’s all about keeping it clean – regularly and thoroughly. Steer clear from excessive tiling, impractical colours that hide dirt and overly complex designs.

Scientific tests have shown that sink taps are one of the dirtiest areas in the washroom, right after toilet floors and toilet bowls. So, choose a practical low-maintenance design that is easy to clean. Preferably, infrared sensor taps.

Choose the following design elements to extend the life of your school toilets and minimise maintenance requirements:

  • Easy-to-clean toilet fixtures. Floor-mounted back-to-wall toilet pans are much easier and simpler to clean than conventional toilet designs.
  • Chemical-resistant toilet cubicles. Smooth surface materials are resistant to even the harshest detergents as well as graffiti and dirt.
  • Concealed toilet flush cisterns. Cisterns integrated into the wall create extra space and reduce cleaning time.
  • Low-maintenance washroom tiling. Choose tiles with easy-clean finishes, such as polished porcelain. Go for larger over smaller tiles as they allow for less grouting which attracts dirt and grime. Use 300 x 600mm dimensions for walls and 300 x 300mm for flooring.
  • No-tile washroom design. Durable, 100% waterproof wall panels are ideal for wet area walls and flooring, and minimise the need for grouting.

2. Install no-touch school washroom accessories and hardware

To reduce the potential of spreading illness, you need to minimise the risk of cross-contamination by reducing the number of common contact points that act as hotspots for germs and bacteria.

Washroom taps and sinks are typically the most highly contaminated surfaces used by pupils – even more so than the toilet pans themselves.

Reduce cross-contamination and opportunities for bacteria to multiply by installing:

3. Provide proper school washroom hand washing and hand drying facilities

Ensure that your washrooms are well-stocked with all the necessary washroom supplies such as soap dispensers, paper towels and toilet rolls. Install automatic alternatives whenever possible to reduce cross-contamination chances in your school.

Hand sanitisers are the most effective method for preventing viral and bacterial contamination, particularly, powerful alcohol-based sanitisers.

For hand drying solutions, any quality hand-drying product will dry hands.

However, paper towel dispensers have been shown to be the most effective. While air dryers do dry hands quite well, they can actually increase bacteria levels by up to 254% on palms and 194% on finger pads.

The most environmentally-conscious solution is to use cloth towel dispensers, which are as effective as paper towels, but produce zero waste.

4. Use fun posters to encourage hand hygiene among school children

School children’s awareness of the importance of regular, proper hand-washing is critical. Children are naturally curious and touch everything they find interesting. They also don’t discriminate between using clean tissues and the back of their hands if they have a runny nose.

However, with a little effort and some motivational visuals, your pupils can develop good washroom habits that will protect their long-term health.

5. Dispose of school washroom waste properly

Waste disposal is also important. By fitting your school premises with proper waste disposal units, you help prevent airborne germs from spreading and compromising children’s health.

Click to Download

6. Install school washroom toilet seat sanitisers for better germ protection

Toilet seats are high-contact fixtures and require special attention to ensure they are not a threat to children’s health.

A 2014 experiment took samples from a keyboard, a doorknob, a table, a toilet seat and a few other general purpose objects. The sample from the toilet seat was shown to have the highest bacteria count than all the other observed objects in the experiment.

Flushing the toilet actually disperses airborne bacteria that are breeding in the toilet pan.

Installing toilet seat sanitisers in your school toilets helps prevent harmful bacteria build-up on the surface of school toilet seats.

Combine seat sanitisers with powerful auto washroom sanitisers for an easy 24/7 sanitation solution.

7. Provide adequate school washroom odour control

Unpleasant odours from school washrooms and toilets are typically due to the build-up of uric acid crystals in urinals and toilet pans and the bacteria living in those crystals.

Cleaning agents based on harsh chemicals and waterless urinals do little to combat the odour issue.

The most effective method of neutralising bad odours is to:

  • Install high quality, programmable automated air fresheners using natural ingredients that help you maintain a consistently fresh and clean washroom
  • Commission a thorough bio-cleaning treatment using natural probiotic cultures to remove odour-producing bacteria from the system long-term

8. Employ additional school washroom safety measures

Install anti-trap hinges, self-closing doors and non-slip mats to minimise the potential for accidents and injury.

Washroom Hygiene Services for New Zealand Schools

Taking school washroom hygiene seriously helps you achieve optimal disease control and maintain respectable school attendance rates. Reducing the incidence of infectious diseases also helps to promote a positive learning environment for your students.

And the best part?

With Fresh & Clean’s comprehensive washroom rental solution, your school management can delegate washroom maintenance and free up resources for other key operational activities.

Fresh & Clean’s professionals do all the refills and maintenance for you. So if you’re looking for a convenient, cost-effective solution to your school hygiene, your search ends here.

Get a fast best-price quote or chat with our friendly customer support representatives today.

Use the links below for more detailed information about Fresh & Clean’s comprehensive washroom hygiene program:

Soap Dispensers

As one of the largest soap dispenser suppliers in New Zealand and Australia, we provide a comprehensive range of liquid, foam, or spray soap variations in different colours and soap types. We also specialise in automatic, no-touch soap dispensers which effectively prevent the spreading of germs and are ideally suited for high-traffic school environments.

Hand Sanitisers

Our selection of 99.99% effective germ-fighting hand sanitisers ensure a safe and hygienic school environment. These powerful tamper-proof wall-mounted or stand-alone sanitisers are environmentally friendly and help reduce the spread of infection via dirty hands.

Hand Dryers

Wet hands can be a real health hazard. Fresh & Clean’s hand-drying solutions helps keep children’s hands clean and germ-free. Choose from:

  • Double-chambered cloth towel dispensers
  • Touch-less paper towel dispensers
  • Enviro-friendly motorised air towels
  • Energy-saving, extra quiet jet dryers.
Waste Disposal Units

Our EPA-approved, eco-friendly disposal systems ensure a safe, clean and odour-free school washroom environment. Regularly maintained, cleaned and serviced, our sanitary bins and nappy disposal bins guarantee discretion and comfort.

Toilet Seat Sanitisers

Ideal for school washrooms used by younger children less aware of good hygiene habits. Available in spray or wipe form, our toilet seat and air sanitisers are effective anti-bacterial solutions.

Air Fresheners

Odour control is an an issue in all public-access toilets, with schools no exception. Unpleasant odours can discourage students from going to the toilet, which can adversely affect their bladder and bowel health. Our automatic air fresheners with biodegradable ingredients help maintain a pleasant and hygienic washroom environment.

Deep Cleaning Service

Fresh & Clean’s deep cleaning service is the most specialised solution within our managed washroom services program. Intense cleaning with powerful biological agents cleans hard-to-reach surfaces and eradicates the source of bad odours, using eco-friendly cleaning supplies.

Reference Design for School Buildings: Universal Bathrooms

Reference Design for School Buildings: Universal Bathrooms

Journal of Public Health

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