Let’s say a woman has been driving for three hours; she’s hungry and could use a bathroom stop. Where does she pull off the highway? That may depend on what her gas gauge reads. But if she doesn’t need to stop at a gas station, she could be stopping at a conveniently located fast-food joint. And bathroom cleanliness may factor into her choice.
So which leading quick-service chains have the best—and worst—bathrooms, according to consumers?
Recent customers rated quick-service restaurant bathroom cleanliness in a Technomic Consumer Brand Metrics survey. On average, fewer than half (47.4%) of customers say the fast-food restaurant’s bathroom they recently frequented was very clean, suggesting that many chains have room to improve.
Click through to uncover the five cleanest and five least-clean chain bathrooms, according to the percentage of recent customers who said the brand did a “very good” job of offering clean restrooms.
Nearly two-thirds of all recent visitors to Culver’s say the QSR-plus chain has very clean restrooms. On Yelp, one customer of a Culver’s in Midvale, Utah, wrote that the Culver’s location “was actually clean … the bathroom was not that of a fast-food joint.”
A different customer of a Culver’s in Chaska, Minn., wrote on Yelp, “The other thing that always impresses me with this Culver’s is how clean the bathrooms always are. My grandma has always said you know how clean the kitchen is going to be by looking at the bathrooms.”
Tying with Culver’s, nearly two-thirds of all recent Chick-fil-A customers say that the chicken chain offers very clean bathroom facilities. In one YouTube video, an exuberant customer shared images of a Chick-Fil-A bathroom stocked with children’s diapers, hand sanitizer, hand soap and a complementary mouthwash station. He described the bathroom as “smelling like a medical office—very clean.”
3. Potbelly Sandwich Shop
About three-fifths of recent Potbelly Sandwich Shop customers rated the chain’s restroom as very clean. This vintage-inspired sandwich shop chain can sometimes hang some quirky artwork up in its restrooms. One customer wrote on TripAdvisor of a location in New York City, “The bathrooms are impeccably clean, and the women’s bathroom has an added bonus of a George Costanza underwear portrait on the wall.”
Nearly three-fifths of recent Whataburger guests say that the burger chain offers very clean bathrooms. One recent customer who commented on the clean bathrooms in particular in the Technomic survey said that that she was driving a far distance on the road at the time of the visit.
5. Caribou Coffee
Almost three-fifths of consumers who recently visited Caribou Coffee say that the coffee cafe chain has very clean restrooms. A recent visitor to Caribou commented in the Technomic survey that he liked that the bathrooms were open to customers and were clean.
Three in 10 recent customers rated SONIC Drive-In’s bathroom facilities as very clean, 36.5% below the QSR average for restroom cleanliness. Some of SONIC’s bathrooms are located in a separate area outside of the restaurant itself, due to the chain’s unique drive-in setup.
A little over a third of consumers who recently visited McDonald’s said the chain’s bathrooms were very clean, 25.5% below average. In fact, the burger giant ranks below average for all cleanliness attributes measured in Consumer Brand Metrics. McDonald’s U.S. may want to take a page from McDonald’s U.K.’s transparency campaign, when the chain outlined its bathroom cleaning procedures online.
Jack in the Box
Jack in the Box scored about 24.9% less than the average fast-food chain for bathroom cleanliness. One recent customer mentioned in the Technomic survey that the premises of the Jack in the Box he recently visited were dirty.
Perhaps to prevent non-customers from using its bathrooms (likely to help maintain cleanliness), customers have been noting that the chain is adding locks to its bathrooms doors that are accessible from the outside. One disgruntled man even drove his car into a Los Angeles Jack in the Box location after trying to enter a locked restroom.