One of the biggest culprits of restroom malodors is urine, which carries with it odor-causing bacteria that often seeps into porous grout lines on the floor. Bacteria, mold, mildew and other contaminates can also be of concern.

Denise Nef, director of Pennsylvania Paper & Supply, Scranton, Pa., says the most important thing a customer needs to do is to get rid of an odor at its source.

“To cover up the odor with an air freshener is not the answer, because all you are doing is walking into a bathroom and smelling cucumber urine or mango urine or whatever,” she says. “Therefore, the best products to use are anything with enzymes.”

For an area that gets cleaned more than most, the removal of contaminants from the grout is not too difficult if the proper technique is utilized.

To remove urine odors in grout, Huizenga says to dilute the digester with water according to directions and apply heavily to the grouted floor or surface.

“Allow to dwell — and keep wet — for as long as possible so that the digester can do its work. Most of the digesters contain detergents that clean and leave behind a fragrance,” he says. “Pick up any remaining solution with a wet vacuum or mop. Rinse if needed.”

According to Martini, vacuum extraction tools that dispense cleaning solutions, such as dispense-and-vac or spray-and-vac systems, can loosen and lift soils and create a liquid current to suction and transport contaminants from the floor into a recovery tank where the odors are contained.
It’s also a good idea to use grout sealer to prevent bacteria from forming in the pores of the grout and causing future odors.

Using a peroxide cleaner to start with will help with grout cleaning. In addition to killing some of the odorous bacteria, it will dig into the pores and crevices of the ground and “bubble out” the proteins, making it easier for the enzymes to get to the proteins, says Martini.

A solution with enzyme disinfectant is also recommended, so when custodians finish cleaning a floor with a mop, they’re sending the enzyme disinfectant down the drain, which will help in the long run.

Once the area is clean and rid of contaminants, then custodians can freshen it up with other products and scents.

“Some restrooms are so bad, you really need to get a heavy scrubber in there to attack and get deep into the ground,” Nef says. “Carpets are the same way. They are even harder because of their material and the padding underneath them.”

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Enzymes Are A Great Carpet Odor Remover