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April 2019

The real costs of a cheap hygiene supplier

Written by Peta Florus
Health and Safety

Growing up we always heard the saying "goedkoop is duurkoop" (translated as ‘cheap is expensive’). Sayings like these have - of course - become part of the ‘Rules to live by handbook’ and together with tough economic times, may have somehow affected our purchasing behaviour.

So what do you do when times are tough? Do you cut corners and skimp on the real thing, or do you heed the adage above?

Procurement,  purchasing, or facilities managers, I have sympathy for those of you who have to juggle staying within your allocated (and often limited) budget and the obligations of meeting the long list of requirements for your employees and visitors.

Finding that “sweet spot” can sometimes be a bit challenging, but at Initial we have listened to our customers’ concerns and are confident that our solutions can be customised to suit your budget and your business needs, ensuring that everyone is satisfied.

We’ve looked at some of the essential bathroom services - where you think you may save a buck or two - but which in the long run could cost you a lot more if you skimp.


There is nothing worse than cheap and nasty bar soaps which are always soggy and messy. Bar soaps are nothing more than an accumulation of everyone’s bacteria and only fractionally cheaper than liquid soaps.

Off-the-shelf liquid soaps are quite common in corporate and hospitality bathrooms these days, but often we use more than we actually need, and the cost to replace these all the time is probably more than you would’ve spent on a good hygiene service provider. Those off-the-shelf disposable dispensers also tend to get grubby after a week or two of use, increasing your risk of cross contamination

Refilling these bottles is also quite common, but how hygienic is that? Once opened, the soap needs to be decanted into dispenser bottles, and there is almost always spillage and a mess to clean up afterwards, not to mention that the soap has been exposed to air, germs and bacteria and may too become contaminated.

Rather invest in a hygiene company that can offer you a soap dispenser (or hand sanitizer, if you prefer) with sealed refills and a measured amount dispensed at each use. You can be assured that the contents are not contaminated, and there will be no need for decanting and therefore no mess or wastage. It frees up time, allowing your staff to focus on other work demands instead of decanting soap, shopping and cleaning. Your absenteeism rate could decrease as there would be cross-contamination - and that in itself is a huge saving to the your bottom line.


Cloth hand towels are positively cringeworthy. As with soap bars, everybody uses them and deposits their germs on them, and with towels remaining damp, they are an ideal breeding ground for bacteria to thrive.

Drying your hands on your clothing or flicking the water off until they are dry leaving splashes of water for the next unsuspecting user to slip on) is not an option either. It is also a proven fact that bacteria thrive on hands that are not dried properly.

If you are guilty of providing cloth towels in your workplace, it’s time to redeem yourself. An alternative would be to invest in a good electric hand dryer or a paper towel dispenser. It may even cost less than laundering your towels every week and will go a long way in keeping your staff happy and reduce germ causing bacteria from spreading.

Deep clean

So your daily cleaner cleans your bathrooms and he or she does a really great job. The bathrooms are always clean and fresh smelling when you walk in the mornings. Come midday, it may not be as cheerful to use the facilities. The reason for this is that most cleaning agents simply mask the odours and only clean the surface. They do not reach the root cause of malodour, which is the bacteria hiding in the hard to reach areas of the bathroom sanitaryware, fittings and fixtures.

You may disagree that a deep clean service is essential, or argue that your cleaner uses a toilet brush and specific cloths to clean, but is he or she getting right up under the flush rims, into the pipework and outlet drains?  I think not.

At Initial, deep cleaning (or ablution hygiene treatments as we like to call them) is one of our flagship services and is unmatched in the market. Our technicians get to the hard to reach areas with special tools and custom bio-enzyme cleaning agents which are environmentally friendly and get rid of the root cause of the odours, to ensure your bathroom facilities are properly cleaned. We leave a supply of environmentally friendly cleaning agents and a totally disinfected bathroom. This, at a fraction of the cost that you would spend on ammonia and various other cleaning agents for your cleaner to use every day and not to mention the cross-contamination of the same person having to clean your bathroom, your kitchen and your desk.

Airfresh cans

These can be seen in most bathrooms in various fragrances like strawberries and cream, vanilla and orange blossom. This is something I find absolutely revolting. It does nothing but a very bad job of masking odours.  

Have you ever heard the saying “Strike a match”?  “The TV show "MythBusters" covered this topic and did not conclude that a match eliminates the smell. But it did suggest that matches mask the methyl mercaptan found in flatulence and faeces. So, a match may not eliminate odours, but it will push them to the background. Most of the time, that's good enough.” that’s according to Quora.

Matches are definitely cheaper than cans of air freshener, but like air freshener, they find their way into offices and generally don't stay in the places they were intended for.

What you do need is an air freshener that tackles the source of the malodour and eliminates it, and preferably an air freshener that cannot be tampered with or removed.

Entrance mats

While these may seem pricey, they are an essential part of any establishment. Who needs to buy them when they can be rented and maintained on your behalf?  Read our blog post about Initial’s range of mats for various areas in your business from front entrance mats to mats for your kitchen and workshops and how these can save you money in the long run by preventing slips, trips and falls, especially during the winter or rainy season.

Plants: How often have business owners or managers said, “I’ll just pop over to the nursery and buy a few plants myself”? And how many times a year have they actually had to do that for a second or third time as no-one took care of them correctly?

Interior plants definitely enhance your workplace, improve the well being of your employees, and create a pleasant interior for your visitors. Because plants need the correct lighting conditions, we at Ambius choose the best plants for your particular area and look after them for you. So for a fraction of the cost of purchasing new plants every few months, why not inquire about a rental and maintenance offers from Ambius. The only thing you and your staff need to do is admire the display, we’ll take care of the rest. And if it's time for a change, we can revamp your look.

At Initial, we’ve listened to our customers and can provide customised solutions to suit your business and your pocket. If you still think soliciting the services of a good hygiene company is too expensive, think about how much you would pay for a good cup of coffee  and then compare that to the value good hygiene practices add to your workplace or leisure facility, and think again. 

If you would like a copy of this checklist (with a little something extra) we'll be happy to send you a copy.

Peta Florus

Peta Florus

Peta has been part of Rentokil Initial family for a number of years with research and analysis being her core functions. She enjoys writing the occasional blogs for the pest and hygiene businesses sharing information and expertise on our specialist services. In her private time and being a mom of two teenagers, walks on the beach is the next best thing to spending quality family time.

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