MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. — Would you pay to use a public toilet if you knew it was clean? A new study finds that a majority of Americans would gladly do so to relieve themselves worry-free.
Bradley Corporation, a leading plumbing and washroom supply manufacturer, recently tried to gauge attitudes on this very question through an online questionnaire given to 1,000-plus adults.
The survey showed that 56% of Americans would willingly lighten their pockets for a clean public restroom — though just for some spare change. When polled on prices, 45% indicated they’d pay 25 cents, while 29% would shell out 50 cents. The “high-rollers” of the group, meanwhile, indicated that they’d be willing to spend up to a dollar on a well-maintained facility — though this segment accounted for just 6% of respondents.
Not all Americans, however, would sit down at the injustice of having to pay to use the restroom.
Midwesterners expressed the most extreme opposition to such a notion, with nearly one-third believing it be a load of dung— even if the restroom well exceeded expectations.
For those who would consider paying, poor experiences made doing so an option. A perhaps surprising 70% of respondents could recall at least one substandard restroom experience, while 42% admit they’d had such an experience in the preceding two months.
Among the most common grievances were clogged or unflushed toilets, missing or unusable toilet paper rolls, and inoperable stall doors.
Interestingly, businesses that housed dirty restrooms, regardless of their cost of use, were thought to be unsanitary overall. For instance, 82% of respondents believed that a restaurant’s less-than-hygienic bathrooms spoke volumes about its kitchen.
“Our survey found that a bad restroom speaks volumes to customers,” explains Jon Dommisse, an executive at Bradley Corporation, in a press release. “Forty-seven percent say an unclean restroom shows the company doesn’t care about its customers and 46% feel it’s a sign of poor management. On the flip side, we found that almost half of Americans will ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ spend more money at a business that has clean, well-maintained restrooms.”
Pay-potties are nothing new. In fact, 47% of respondents didn’t realize that paid toilets are common throughout the world — and were once common in the United States itself. In the early-to-mid 1970s, over 50,000 paid restrooms could be found nationwide, although few remained by the start of the following decade, thanks to aggressive lobbying efforts.
Bradley Corporation’s poll, the latest iteration of its annual Healthy Hand Washing Survey, was conducted this past January. The survey was evenly split by gender, and participants were located across the United States.