It is human nature to make judgment calls based on how something smells, regardless of whether that smell is heavenly or hellish.

“Ninety percent of the time, people rate the cleanliness of a restroom not on what they see, but by what they smell,” says Henry Hironaka, president of the U.S. branch of Air Spencer, a company based in Japan. “How your restroom smells is directly connected to the entire image of your establishment.”

Patrons who walk into a men’s room are often hit with a noxious odor emanating directly from the urinals, which contain a residue of uric acid. Uric acid is produced by a combination of potassium in the urine, mixed with carbon dioxide; the uric acid then becomes a food source for bacteria.

The typical cleaning method for urinals is bleach, but there are a few drawbacks to its use.

“Yes, bleach will kill bacteria on the surface, but if you’re not removing the uric acid, the smell comes right back in 24 hours,” says Hironaka. “Also, bleach is costly to fixtures because it can cause metal and ceramic to deteriorate.”

His company’s solution, PeePod, hooks into each urinal and eliminates both the food source for bacteria and any uric acid stains. Hironaka says that after one application, 90 percent of the odor is gone, and it will take only about 7 to 14 days for the odors to disappear completely. The units, which are completely disposable and recyclable, should be replaced every two months.

“If you don’t eliminate that source, no matter how many air fresheners you put in, it won’t do any good. That is why you need to address the urinal first, then the air,” says Hironaka.

Fresh air is the ultimate goal for restrooms, but overwhelming scents can have a negative effect on patrons.

Hironaka’s solution is the DoorPod. It’s a kinetic energy air freshener that can be affixed to the stall door, does not require a battery and has no spray. It produces a dry vapor that comes in a variety of natural, plant oil-based scents.

Regardless of whether or not facility cleaning managers choose to supplement air freshening products at the sink or elsewhere in the restrooms, in-stall products are a trend that help combat odors directly at the source, create a favorable image for the facility and lighten the load for staff. 

HILARY DANINHIRSCH is a freelance writer based in Pittsburgh.