checklist of tasks

Successfully resolving odor issues can prove challenging for a variety of reasons. Among the constraints that Allen mentions is a lack of proper equipment and cleaning products, as well as not allocating enough time for custodians to get the job done right. A possible solution would be to provide custodians with touch-free cleaning equipment, outfitted with chemicals onboard and a long hose that would enable them to quickly spray underneath sinks, plumbing stalls and other fixtures. 

But this hits on another issue — money, says Guinn, who also touts the benefits of using machines. It is difficult for facilities to find the budget for new equipment. It’s a problem that can get in the way of resolving restroom odors, she says, adding that in response, High Point has developed software to help facilities justify such purchases. 

No matter the equipment used, Holland emphasizes that establishing an education and training program will help ensure that restrooms are kept clean and odor-free.  

“Continually educate and regularly remind customers about the importance of thorough cleaning and proper techniques due to health and safety concerns, managing maintenance budgets and the perception of both employees and visitors to the facility,” he says. “Establish a feedback loop for occupants and visitors, enabling them to report restroom-related issues.” 

He also recommends implementing a maintenance program/schedule. 

“To assist staff, facility managers can edit their cleaning checklist to include specific odor-causing areas such as sanitary waste receptacles and towel storage bins, and to include routine use of enzyme-based drain treatments,” adds Holland.  

Allen agrees and adds that this checklist should detail what custodians need to be doing daily, weekly and monthly to keep odors from arising, or at least to address them when they do. It should also include what kinds of products and procedures to use in what areas of the restroom and for what types of issues.  

Moody is also on board with that strategy but emphasizes that a plan needs to be followed to be effective. Stress to customers that they must make sure cleaning staff is supervised and held accountable to the plan. 

Tackling annoying odors requires a combination of short-term and long-term solutions. The former includes diligent cleaning, ensuring adequate ventilation and immediately responding to leaks. Odor neutralizers can also help, although these won’t eliminate the need to identify and fix the source. 

Deodorizers are also an option. If air fresheners or automated scent systems are used, Holland recommends customers rotate or use different scents every three to four months to avoid desensitization. 

As for long-term strategies, along with developing the aforementioned education, training and maintenance programs, it may be necessary for facilities to use antimicrobial materials on restrooms surfaces, to upgrade their ventilation systems, and to schedule regular deep cleaning and resealing of grout and other porous surfaces to ward off moisture. 

The relatively high turnover that often characterizes custodial staff is also worth addressing with an eye to achieving a long-term reduction in employee churn. In this effort, training can be an effective tool, since as Guinn explains, not only does poor or inconsistent training make achieving good cleaning results less likely, but a lack of training also often goes "hand-in-hand" with turnover.  

But sufficient training may not be all that is required to keep custodial staff from fleeing to other opportunities. There is also the matter of pay, says Moody. 

“I am always an advocate for cleaners, how essential they are and how underpaid they often are,” he says. “COVID-19 proved their value so it’s very important that cleaners are well-paid and that facilities allocate sufficient budget to do so. A cleaner is worth a lot, and they should not only be well-paid, but they should have all the equipment and tools they need to do the job.” 

Pamela Mills-Senn is a freelance writer from Long Beach, California. She is a frequent contributor to Sanitary Maintenance.

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How Distributors Can Identify, Assist with Odor Control Issues