Glenn Rasin

By: Glenn Rasin on March 12th, 2021

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How to Prevent Commercial Restroom Odors: Eliminate Sources + Best Products

Restroom hygiene can make a big impact on your occupants, and yet they represent one of the highest areas of complaint in many facilities. 

One of the most common restroom complaints arises from unpleasant odors. Oftentimes, guests equate the cleanliness of your restrooms with the overall service provided by your business. Providing your guest with a clean, good-smelling restroom experience will be key to satisfaction. 

Foul restroom smells come from a variety of issues making them difficult to combat without the right combination of odor control strategies. 

About 90% of restroom odors are caused by urine. However, most urine odors do not come from inside the toilet or urinal but from urine droplets that did not make it into the toilet. This is a common problem in both men’s and women’s restrooms.

Unfortunately, regular cleaning is not enough to keep odors out of our restroom. In fact, it can sometimes make bathroom odors worse. For example, although scrubbing and mopping may make things look as if they are clean, traditional mops and rags actually spread more germs around, allowing bacteria to grow and making the problem worse.

Daily cleaning and disinfecting is important to reducing the spread of germs and keeping your facility clean, but to eliminate bad smells in the washroom you will need to tackle the source. 

There are different malodors found in several different areas of your commercial restroom, and you’ll likely need a combination of solutions to eliminate them. 

To help you combat any unwanted smells in your commercial bathroom, below we’ll review some of the most common odor sources and how to tackle them. 

How to Get Rid of Urine Odor and Other Foul Smells in Your Bathroom

As mentioned, the most common source of foul smells in your washroom is due to urine. It gets splashed onto the floor from toilets and tracked through the restroom on the bottoms of your occupant’s shoes. 

In the restroom, grout absorbs urine and soils, providing a warm place for the bacteria of those contaminants to grow. As bacteria continue to multiply and grow, foul odors will get worse.

Malodors can also linger in the air after a toilet flushes or emit from improperly cleaned floor drains and sinks.

Clean the Floor with an Odor Digester

The best way to remove urine odors from your restroom floor grout and drains is with an odor digester.  

Odor digesters are a bio-enzymatic product. Bio-enzymatic cleaning products contain bacteria and enzymes that penetrate organic residues, such as urine.CERTO Odor Digester

Bio-enzymatic products are safe for use in commercial and residential settings when used with the proper precautions. 

The “good” bacteria and enzymes from the bio-enzymatic product will break down the “bad” bacteria from the stain and eliminate the odor. 

This process is called biodegradation.

Pro Tip: Other floor cleaning products, like general cleaners and disinfectants, are not effective at removing odors from grout and floor drains because they do not eliminate the source of the malodor. Not only are these commonly used products for floor maintenance ineffective in eliminating urine odors, they often exacerbate the problem by wetting the floor and releasing even more intense odor.

Grout is porous and traps contaminants deep inside. Odor digesters are able to penetrate the grout and eliminate bacteria, the source of the smell, from within.

Bio-enzymatic products also help protect your grout from damage due to uric acid, which if left can cause mold and degrade grout. 

Follow these 3 steps to clean your grout with an odor digester. 

Install Odor Control Systems

In addition to removing the source of malodors, you can use odor control systems to release fresh scents to ensure your restroom smells great at all times.

Odor control systems that attack lingering contaminants in the air and break them down help combat the unknown smells. 

There are two different types of fragrance systems: active and passive. The most effective odor elimination strategies will likely have a combination of both active and passive systems.

Active Odor Control

Active odor control solutions rely on a mechanical propellant to deliver scent at metered intervals for

Oxygen-Pro Restroom Fragrancing Starter Pack

 consistent control of odor. The continuous release of product allows the system to treat all of the air in an area, making them a good choice for large, high-traffic restrooms. 

Active odor control systems also include aerosols which are dispensed via a metered system. However, these types of odor control systems are best used in small, low-traffic spaces or as an additional part of your odor control system because they only treat the air at the product location - similar to passive odor control systems.

Passive Odor Control

Unlike active odor control systems, passive systems rely on natural air movement to dispense fragrance which can ultimately allow for foul odors to arise. They do not require batteries, fans or propellants to disperse fragrance.  

Passive odor control systems include: 

  • Gels
  • Solids
  • Oil Dispensers
  • Toilet Clips 
  • Urinal Screens and Blocks 

Traditional aerosols in a spray can (without a metered system) and other passive systems, such as gels and solids, allow for gaps in odor elimination because they are not dispensed in even intervals. There is no way to control fragrance intensity and most products do not last the specified number of days.

Passive odor control systems are great when used in addition to active systems. They can be placed in stalls for maximum odor control. 

Place Mats Around Urinals and Toilets

Urinal and toilet mats minimize the urine that is tracked throughout your restroom and prevent any moisture or contaminants from getting stuck in your grout. They also help provide a slip-free surface for guests. urinal mat

Engineered to fit the shape of most standard commercial toilets and urinals, these mats surround the toilet/urinal base to protect your floors and combat odors. 

These mats are designed to trap and absorb any moisture while releasing a pleasant scent, keeping your restroom smelling great. 

Using mats like this also helps cut down on maintenance costs by protecting the floor from stains and damage from uric acid.

Urinal mats are easily cleaned and maintained, and when necessary can be thrown out and replaced. 

Insert Urinal Screens and Blocks

Urinal screens and blocks help to prevent odors inside urinals. 

While regular cleaning will be critical to keeping urinals and toilets clean and free from stains and odors, screens and blocks can complement your cleaning schedule. 

Urinal Screens urinal screen

Urinal screens help filter debris to help prevent drains from getting clogged which could otherwise cause odors and require deeper, more time-consuming cleaning procedures. 

While they work to block debris from your pipes, they also give off a fresh scent for deodorization.

Some urinal screens may not have built-in deodorant, but rather allow for urinal blocks to be inserted into them. 

urinal block
Urinal Blocks 

Urinal blocks, sometimes called urinal cakes, are placed inside a urinal, near the drain to keep urine odors to a minimum. 

For toilets, you may consider toilet clips which can be discreetly placed inside the toilet. As the toilet is flushed, it will release the selected scent. 


Final Thoughts

Combatting odors in your commercial bathroom will likely require a comprehensive cleaning schedule combined with one or all of the odor control strategies above. 

To successfully contain and remove smells in your restroom, select an odor counteractant that actually eliminates the malodors instead of trying to “cover up” with a different scent.

For grout and floor drain odors, odor digesters break down odor-causing bacteria, while odor control systems can consume odors from the air. 

Urinal mats, screens, and blocks are a good option to stop odors at the source. 

Don’t forget to align the fragrance choices between all of your odor control systems so that there is a consistent scent throughout the entire restroom. Sometimes using multiple different scents can be overwhelming and actually exacerbate smelly restroom odors. 

EBP has a variety of commercial cleaning supplies and equipment to eliminate restroom odors, enhance your restroom’s image, increase cleanliness, and reduce customer complaints.  

Let an EBP Specialist review your current restroom cleaning procedures and recommend the best products to help you eliminate stubborn restroom odors. Fill out the form to speak to a specialist today.

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About Glenn Rasin

Glenn Rasin is the Chemical Specialist for EBP Supply Solutions and Lead Trainer for the EBP Training Academy, which offers CMI-certified training courses for supervisory and front-line cleaning professionals throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. He is an ISSA CMI-certified trainer, with over 35 years of experience in the janitorial and sanitation industry.