Pee-Yew! What’s That Smell? – A Guide to Odor Control in Your Facility

Have you ever walked into a restroom and been overcome by the smell of urine?  Odor is one of the most common complaints in public restrooms – and indeed in any facility where people congregate.  Odor control is the process of reducing or eliminating these smells, and it’s something that should be taken seriously in any commercial setting.

Let’s look at the most common causes of unpleasant odors in restrooms, why odor control is important, and discuss some tips for tackling the problem.


What Causes Bad Odors?

Here’s a list of the most common odor-causing elements you’ll encounter in restrooms:

  • Urine and Feces – Arguably, these are the two most prominent sources of foul smells. Odor is caused by bacteria that feed on waste products. As they metabolize urine and feces, they release compounds known as volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), which are the primary cause of unpleasant restroom smells.


  • Mold and Mildew – These fungi can grow on damp surfaces, releasing a musty odor into the air.


  • Toilet Paper and Tissue – The paper itself doesn’t produce an unpleasant smell, but when it gets wet it can start to smell sour. This is especially true if it’s not stored correctly in a dry place.


Why Is Odor Control Important?

Odors in commercial spaces can cause visitor complaints, lost revenue, and low employee morale due to dissatisfaction with workplace conditions. Studies show that 50% of restaurant guests who have a negative experience with a restroom’s cleanliness (including bad odors) will talk about it to friends and family. Likewise, 32% of students refrain from using school restrooms due to unpleasant odors and unsanitary conditions.

Whether it’s in a restaurant, hotel, educational institution, or office building, the goal of odor control is to create clean and comfortable environments for people working at or visiting your facility.


How Can Odors Be Controlled?

There are several ways to reduce or eliminate unpleasant odors in your facility. Some common odor control strategies include:

  • Ventilation: The proper ventilation of restrooms and other areas with offensive smells is essential. Ensure the air flows from clean to dirty spaces, and that exhaust fans are working properly. Odors can be carried through the air in ducts, so make sure that any filters are changed as scheduled and that they’re clean.


  • Odor neutralizers: Odor control is not about masking smells with perfumes or air fresheners but rather – neutralizing them. Odor neutralizers work to break down the molecules that create bad smells, leaving a fresh and clean scent behind. Odor-neutralizing sprays or coatings on restroom fixtures such as urinals and floors can reduce unpleasant smells before they reach the nose of anyone entering.


  • Odor absorbers: Odor absorber packets can be placed under sinks, trash cans, and toilets to reduce odors that may emanate from these areas.


  • Cleaning and sanitizing: The key to preventing odors is a good, consistent cleaning routine. Make sure all surfaces are cleaned and disinfected regularly – especially those that may be prone to bacteria growth (e.g., toilet seats, door handles, taps, and countertops). Doing this will help reduce the amount of organic matter that can create unpleasant smells.


Odor control is a crucial part of any facility management plan – so don’t neglect it. By implementing some of the strategies listed above, you can keep your facility smelling fresh and clean for everyone to enjoy.