Once common odors have been identified and addressed, odor counteractant fragrances can provide a final touch.

Especially in high-traffic areas, says Christopher Suppe, product manager at Unisource Worldwide, Norcross, Georgia, air freshening may be needed. He suggests that managers look for products that have a long-lasting fragrance.

Typically products last about 30 days, but there are others that last longer and offer higher value for departments. Suppe adds that how long a fragrance lasts is often the biggest selling point, followed by fragrance.

“Choosing the fragrance itself is very subjective,” he says. “What smells good to me might not smell good to you.”

In recent years, manufacturers have been busy working to create more sophisticated fragrances. For example, Keough has found men like heavier fragrances such as citrus, mango and mint, while women typically like lighter fragrances, such as linen, cucumber melon and floral. And while these scents are common, spa-inspired fragrances and chemicals created to induce olfactory senses are emerging on the market. 

There are plenty of odor control fragrances from which to choose. And although air fresheners are important to an odor control program, it’s essential that they are used wisely.

When choosing fragrances, keep in mind what other scents are being used to clean and deodorize the restroom. The products should be complementary. Schneringer reminds managers that competing scents can cause headaches for building occupants.

Managers should also work with their distributors to determine the best dispensing options for air fresheners. In fact, there are many types of air care systems available on the market, the most common being metered and passive.

“What works best depends on the situation and the customer,” Schneringer says.

Metered aerosols, which operate using a pulse, fan or spray, can be programmed to spray fragrance at set intervals, for example, every 15, 20, 30 or 60 minutes. They might spray only at night or only during the day, depending on peak hours, or only when they sense light. Some dispensers might also alternate between two complementary scents to eliminate “fragrance fatigue.”

“The advantage [of metered systems] is that you’re always getting a frequent, fresh burst of odor counteractant,” Keogh says.

There are also a number of passive dispensers on the market, which require no batteries or electricity and provide consistent fragrance.

Managers have a variety of options in passive dispensing, including free-standing gels set on countertops or cartridge dispensers adhered to vertical surfaces. Ideal for small, contained spaces, these fragrances traditionally last about 30 days and can be positioned just about anywhere.

Just like the metered dispensers, many fragrances are available for passive systems. Some manufacturers offer fragrances that use olfactory disruption technology to confuse the nose, distracting it from identifying foul odors. The fragrance formulas are “white noise for your nose.” This technology is recommended for areas where secondary odors are generated (baby changing stations, refuse cans, feminine hygiene bins).

One of the best places to mount a dispenser of any kind is near the restroom entrance. As people walk in, they naturally create air movement that helps carry the fragrance into the restroom, while creating a positive first impression. 

Keough notes, “The first and last impression should have some kind of fragrance.”

When strategically and stealthily applied within odor-generating zones, these fragrances can create an overall positive user experience.

How Much Is Enough?

Aside from the type of product and scent of fragrance, managers must make sure they are using enough odor control — but not too much. As one manufacturer puts it, “Every restroom is different and requires a unique fragrance load.”

Managers can determine the right amount of odor control with help from distributors or manufacturers directly. Either can determine what products are needed based on traffic, fixtures, cubic footage, cleaning frequency and desired scent level.

Often, custodial managers don’t deploy enough units for the amount of traffic or fixtures, and the units they do have are placed high in a corner. This is problematic since airflow impacts air quality, and most public restrooms have little or no airflow, especially not in the high corners of the room.

It’s also important that staff replenish dispensers (replacement products, refills and batteries) as needed. One study showed that products that needed replacing at least once a month were replaced not 12 times, but closer to four times per year. And depending on traffic, Suppe says managers might actually need to change a product more often than once a month.

“It’s a learning process to determine how often products need to be changed,” he says. “Every facility is different.”

But once managers figure it out, distributors suggest they develop a schedule for replacement and train staff accordingly.

“Determine what works best for your needs,” says Schneringer, “and make sure your staff maintains that schedule.”

Restrooms are an impression point for building occupants and foul odors can create a negative perception of the entire cleaning program. Managers are advised to implement an all-encompassing odor control program to eliminate foul odors. If done correctly, the restrooms should have the smell of success. 

REBECCA KANABLE is a freelance writer based in East Troy, Wisconsin.

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