My previous posting was concerned with the fact that after using a public bog you can rarely wash your hands in water at an agreeable temperature. There is, however, one hand-washing appliance that does allow you to clean your mitts in comfortably warm water. Unfortunately, this contraption is also one of the most annoying features of the loos in which it is installed.

I refer to the automated “hand wash/dryers” manufactured by a certain company that promotes itself as a supplier of “washroom solutions”. (Personally, I would never patronise any business that applies the cringeworthy term “solutions” to its products or services.)


This is how the machines work:

  • Stage One You thrust your hands into a hole in the wall. The machine senses their presence and ejects a glob of liquid soap. If you are lucky, the soap lands on your hands. If not, there is nothing you can do about it other than to let the machine complete its one-minute cycle so that you can try again.
  • Stage Two The machine drizzles warmish water for a predetermined time, which may be either too long for your needs or too short. And if you still have soap on your hands when the water stops dribbling, then again there is nothing you can do about it other than to wait for the machine to complete its one-minute cycle and start again, while trying to avoid the next gloop of soap.
  • Stage Three Finally, the machine blows a mild stream of warm air for a fixed time. If your hands are still damp when your allotted time is up, then once more there is nothing you can do about it other than to start the one-minute cycle again, while this time avoiding both the soap and the water.

These wacky “washroom solutions” are a lamentable feature of one of my local shopping haunts, the Broadwalk Centre in Edgware. I cannot comment on the ladies’ lavatorial facilities, but the gentlemen’s loo, despite having accommodation for as many as five customers seated and five standing, boasts just three of these machines, one of which is positioned so low that an adult would have to kneel to use it.

IMG_2387What makes these crappy features even more lamentable is the appearance in 2017 of labels stating “HYGIENE NOTICE. Please note these are NOT urinals”.

And while you are going through the enforced and tiresome 60-second wash/dry process, it is no surprise that other bog users give up waiting to use the machine and walk out with unwashed hands. By doing so, they clearly negate the manufacturer’s boast that its products “maximise hygiene”.

On the other hand, the fact that people won’t bother to queue for the machine probably justifies the company’s claim that its products provide significant savings on energy and water. Deterring people from washing their hands certainly reduces the need for both energy and water.

A time-wasting machine that prevents anyone from washing their hands until the previous user has finished drying is not a “washroom solution”. Surely it makes sense to provide separate washing and drying facilities so that users can choose for themselves how thoroughly they wash their hands and then how well they dry them? If the Broadwalk bogs offered three normal sinks and a couple of regular hand-dryers, there would be no problem.