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Clearing The Air On Urine Odors

Even though the fixtures sparkle, the mirrors are spotless and every surface gleams, foul odors still make an impression.

June 18, 2013
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Every city has them; buildings and businesses where only the brave and the especially tolerant will use the bathrooms.

During a typical day, the restroom door will swing open, and every customer or visitor in the general vicinity will wrinkle their nose and ask aloud, “What’s that smell?”

It is a common problem and one that affects many cleaning operations when it comes to building a reputation and generating repeat business.

‘Do Not Go’ List

Ask almost anyone who has lived in an area for more than a year, and most will have a mental checklist of offensive public bathrooms in their city.

“The concert was great,” they might say, “but I wouldn’t let my dog use those restrooms!”

This example highlights the importance of properly cleaning restrooms for both appearance and odor.

Sometimes, even though the fixtures sparkle, the mirrors are spotless and every surface gleams, the full impact of foul odors still makes an impression.

Instead of welcoming visitors and customers who are often at their “weakest point,” unkempt and unclean restrooms will repulse them and create a lasting negative impression.

Microscopic Culprits

When it comes to foul restroom odors, the enemies are uric acid crystals and naturally occurring bathroom bacteria.

As urine soaks into porous grout lines, the bacteria feast on the crystals and then off-gas creating the tell-tale ammonia-like odor.

The floor and other surfaces of a high-traffic restroom provide an endless buffet for these hungry and active bacteria.

Not only are these bacterial culprits are hard to kill, but the odor of their gas output can be even harder to mask or cover.

Knowing how tough this problem is to defeat, many cleaning operations and professionals seem to surrender before the battle even begins.

Sadly, some cleaners seem content to attempt to mask these odors and mumble, “That’s the way it’s always been.”

There Is Hope

Even so, facility managers, environmental service departments and business service contractors (BSCs) should never give up on ridding restrooms of overpowering odors.

New weapons have been introduced to the battle, including specially-formulated cleaning chemicals that get rid of the crystals and kill the smelly bacteria.

In addition to chemical treatments, there are updated cleaning methods that can effectively clean grout lines and seal them from future problems.

Here, cleaning methods that do not enable thorough removal of soils should be eliminated, says Rex Morrison, a Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) ISSA Certification Expert.

Moisture from these ineffective cleaning methods only further activates the bacteria and can lead to a whole new batch of foul odors.

Replace general mopping with area-specific cleaning options for grout lines as well as spray-and-vacuum machines or compact autoscrubbers, Morrison recommends.

Breathing Easy

By finding and using the most beneficial cleaning methods, BSCs and facility managers can improve their results while saving both time and money.

Once an effective cleaning method is found, workers will no longer have to waste time cleaning the same trouble areas repeatedly in an unsuccessful attempt to get rid of or mask stubborn odors.

Further, a clean bathroom free from offensive odors will prevent an operation from having a tarnished reputation that can result in fewer visits.

Thankfully, modern cleaning choices can finally help workers clear the air when it comes to persistent and pesky restroom odors.

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