Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

The sweet smell of success: Effective odor control

September 19, 2010

While cinnamon or vanilla may be your fragrance of choice for your own private space, they might not be as appealing to the 5,000 people who visit a commercial property you provide cleaning services for each week.

In a commercial property, the evaluation of whether or not a space is clean begins immediately with people asking themselves:

  • Are vacuum cleaner tracks evident?
  • Is it visibly clean?
  • Does it smell clean?

In fact, humans have five to six million odor-detecting cells in their nasal passages that start sizing up a room before their eyes do.

If occupants detect an unfavorable scent, it can ruin their impression of the entire building.

As a cleaning professional, you know that visitors get one of their first and most powerful impressions as they enter the building, and again as they enter different areas throughout the building.

You want the odor impression to call on their pleasant memories, and to create positive associations between your facility and its cleaning program.

It’s critical to your customers that your facility not only looks clean, but more importantly, smells clean too — the key is to provide a long-lasting, clean and fresh scent.

When it comes to removing unpleasant odors in a public space, it comes down to getting rid of both the visible and invisible soils that can cause odor — your choice of products is imperative in achieving this result.

Fresh solutions to smelly problems
When evaluating the scent of your building, consider the following:

  • Use products that will eliminate the source of an odor and not just cover it up.
  • For hard surfaces, look for the most effective cleaners based on their ability to remove visible soils.
  • For soft surfaces like fabrics, upholstery or carpeting, the ultimate standard for cleaning is extraction.
  • Since extraction isn’t economically viable due to the frequency with which odor-causing soils occur, for interim cleaning, choose a fabric refresher that’s designed to truly eliminate odors, not just cover them up with another scent.
  • All cleaning products, no matter the surface or process, should leave behind a scent which is refreshing and light — not overpowering — and should not be easily identifiable.
  • While lemon may be a personal favorite for the cleaning crew, in a public setting, people who walk through the facility may find it or any particular, easily identifiable odor offensive. Identifiable scents are polarizing — some people like them, others don’t.
  • Use products that do not have a strong chemical odor.
  • Leaving behind a harsh chemical scent, even if it’s effective at removing the soils that smell bad, may solve one problem while creating another.
  • If air fresheners are used, they should be providing a light scent that, again, is not easily identifiable. The idea is to evoke freshness and cleanilness, not the fruit of the month.

Don’t forget the importance of freshly scented air in your facility. Keeping the air in the building smelling clean is not difficult with proper, thorough cleansing and products that don’t just cover up foul odors, but eliminate them.


Ed Offshack is Research & Development Manager with Procter & Gamble’s Commercial Products Group, Cincinnati. Offshack — who holds a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania — has worked for Procter & Gamble for 22 years and helped develop the P&G Pro- Line™ brand of commercial cleaners. He can be reached at (513) 271-7222, ext 13.