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Customers Talking Dirty About You? Clean Up Your Brand Reputation

Today’s consumers prefer to stay away from dirty places. Literally.

In a new study by Harris Poll for Cintas Corporation, results show that 85 percent of consumers in the US will not visit or patronize a business location with negative reviews about its cleanliness.

As one might expect, the business categories where cleanliness comments count the most are restaurants (75 percent) and hotels (70 percent). Of course: no one wants to eat in a place whose kitchen (or chef) grosses people out – thanks, Yelp restaurant inspection scores! – or sleep in a stinky hotel room with a grimy TV remote and a bathroom sink clogged with hairs.

Apparently, negative online reviews about cleanliness also affect the brand reputation of doctors’ offices, hospitals, and hair or nail salons.

“This study shows that if your business is dirty and someone mentions that in an online review, it will have a negative impact on your bottom line,” says Dave Mesko, Senior Director of Marketing for Cintas. “Patrons put a premium on the cleanliness of a business.”

“To stay competitive, organizations should put cleaning strategies in place to maintain their facilities at peak cleanliness levels no matter the time of day. This will help improve the opportunity for a positive guest experience – and online review.”

Clean up your brand reputation on online review sites

The Harris Poll study also suggests that women are more likely to stay away from local businesses with “dirty” reviews. As much as 81 percent of female respondents say they will not visit a restaurant with cleanliness issues, whereas only 70 percent of men say the same.

Consumers with children in the household are also less likely than those without children to visit places with negative online reviews about cleanliness of facilities.

Regardless of customers’ gender or kind of household, business owners should take the results of the study as a call to clean up not only their facilities – but also their online brand reputation.

According to supporting research, as much as 90 percent of consumers today rely on reviews to determine the quality of a local business, and 4 in 5 will reverse a purchase decision after reading negative reviews.

You certainly don’t want the word “dirty” to appear on your Yelp, Google, or TripAdvisor profile. And while it’s not a surprise that cleanliness positively affects consumers’ buying habits, it’s important to note that the ability to manage online reviews, respond to feedback, and build a positive reputation on online review sites is also extremely crucial.

For tips, check out: 9 Awesome Online Reputation Management Tips for Your Business.

Migs Bassig

Migs is the Content Manager for ReviewTrackers. He's a creative writer who has helped numerous companies communicate more effectively online, and he loves sharing his local marketing knowledge to help brands and business succeed.


  1. Kevin A

    Restaurant reviewers are more concerned about cleanliness than hotel reviewers? I would have guessed it’s the other way around. Then again I’m male and your statistics say we’re less concerned about that. Personally I’ve never been to a restaurant and seen something that concerned me. Of course, I don’t eat fast food so maybe that’s a factor. But hotel rooms; I’m always paranoid about them, especially the sheets. I know they clean them but the idea that hundreds of people have slept in the sheets on my bed always worries me. It’s a borderline phobia of mine.

    • Jim Peterson

      Lol. It always amazes me how many restaurants get unsanitary inspections and people just keep on eating there.

    • nealcal

      I totally agree with Kevin. It is not of my concern if I spot a spiderweb in the corner or a filthy napkin dropped by the waiter. It is natural to have some similar dirt spots in a restaurant, but when it comes to Hotel rooms…argh…I am doing a complete sanitary control before doing anything else in my apartment.

  2. EllaineR

    Cleaning up after guests can be challenging. Not all guests are the same, but the main problem is with guests who have little children and pets. Sometimes your apartment is booked for whole year and there is no time to clean the apartment 100%. Kids like kids, they will make a mess for sure, so you suggest to paint the walls after every checkout? I mean, what if there is no time to do such thing? If 90% of the apartment is clean and there are a few stains on the wall it is not the end of the world, it probably means that the previous guests were sloppy.

  3. Heinrich Sture

    It’s really simple. Keep your restaurant clean and there will be no trouble 🙂

  4. Doyle

    Here’s an interesting thought; you know how in movies when somebody want’s to get “the best burger in town” they go to some run-down, shabby place to do so. Maybe we developed this mentality that makes us want to try out the place even if its cleanliness is sub-par at first sight.

  5. spameater

    I believe in God of cleanliness, that is the only way to improve your business, to keep your clients, to get some new one, and to spare yourself of bad reviews. If you don’t have enough stuff you can rent someone else to keep it clean from time to time. No matter are there some sloppy guests with noisy children, or guests with pets, you have to keep it clean and shine. If you don’t take a padlock and close the business.