Malodorous restrooms are bad for business, and the worst thing you can do is try to layer a mist of pine-scented 'air freshener' over the top to try and cover up the smell.
Tips for Odor-Free Restrooms
Powerful and wide-ranging odors emanating from restrooms are common and typically expected.
As long as they are transitory, there is typically little cause for complaint or concern.
However, issues arise when odors remain well after cleaning.
The source of these odors most commonly stem from:
- Bacteria, which feeds on urine.
- Molds and mildews, which can lead to serious health issues, and;
- Humidity, which has no particular smell, yet facilitates ideal environments for mold, mildew, and bacteria to thrive.
Even among facilities maintenance and professional custodial service workers, it is understood that lingering restroom odors will negatively impact a business's bottom line.
To address the challenge of lingering restroom odors, you must:
- Identify the source of the smell, and then;
- Based on the surface and source, select the appropriate cleaning or removal method.
What do the Pros Think?
Interestingly--and something rarely discussed in favor of the opinion of restroom or facility occupants--facilities maintenance and jan/san workers hold firm opinions regarding the impact of foul restroom odors.
According to a 2008 survey of more than 700 professionals:
- 85% affirmed that bad smells originating from a restroom made them more concerned about germs.
- 71% believed the smells were a sign of improper cleaning.
- 66% stated the smell would prevent them from returning to the store.
- 47% said they would inform a manager about the smell.
- 68% were clear that pine odor did not equate to cleanliness.
- Conversely, 81% stated that no smell or a fresh smell implied the restroom was clean and well maintained.
Where are the Smells Coming From?
Assuming for the moment that the restroom in question is well maintained, as well as cleaned and disinfected regularly, the source of the lingering stench can typically be narrowed down to one of a few areas, including:
- Grout, which is porous, quickly absorbs urine, and provides the perfect environment for the bacteria that feed off of urine to grow, is extremely difficult to clean and disinfect with conventional methods.
- Drains, much like grout, are difficult to clean with conventional methods, and typically provide an ideal environment for the growth of mold and bacteria, and;
- Vents. Clogged vents can house mold, mildew, and other bacteria. Still, more importantly, a clogged vent will not adequately reduce the levels of moisture necessary for mold, mildew, and bacteria to thrive.
An Odor-Free Restroom
The first step to an odor-free restroom is ventilation.
It does not matter how good your cleaning tools, team, or program is--if the restroom has poor ventilation, it will eventually succumb to issues related to humidity that will result in the buildup of mold, mildew, and bacteria--all of which cause lingering and hard to clean smells.
Where sufficient exhaust ventilation systems can be facilitated, ensure that the vents and systems are cleaned and disinfected according to a regular schedule.
Where such systems are not possible, such as restrooms in older buildings, make sure that custodial staff routinely clean and disinfect the walls and ceilings to prevent the buildup of odor-causing mold, mildew, and bacteria.
In regards to drains, we recommend pouring a solution of bleach or, preferably, a solution of enzyme-based cleaner that will eat away at the urine that the odor-causing bacteria feeds on, at least monthly.
Regarding grout, the first thing you must do is get rid of your cotton-string mop and filthy mop bucket.
These outdated systems are just feeding the bacteria living in the grout.
Instead, look into high-pressure touchless cleaning systems, vacuum scrubbers, and enzyme-based cleaners and disinfectants that remove the bacteria and its food source without the use of harsh chemical cleaning products that add to the odor problem.
References & Resources
A smelly restroom--and the majority of industry professionals agree--conveys a seriously negative message to facility occupants and would-be paying customers--our facility is not clean, safe, or hygienic and we don't care about your business.
Often, the lingering smells are not the result of a restroom that is not regularly cleaned, but from a misconception regarding the origin of the odors and how modern technologies can address them.
Commercial cleaning services have advanced significantly over the last few years, and keeping up with the constant shift in science and technologies can be daunting for a business that is focused on something completely unrelated.
Outsourcing your facilities' cleaning and infection prevention services to an experienced provider is the most cost-effective method for ensuring the safety and hygiene of your restroom, office, outlying facilities, staff, and customers.
Contact us today and discover why Vanguard Cleaning Systems® is the Standard of Clean® for businesses throughout Northwest Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.
In Oklahoma, dial 918-960-4450
In Arkansas, dial 479-717-2410
In Missouri, dial 417-812-9777