Ah, the smells of summer: hamburgers sizzling on the grill, the thick smell of peonies blooming in the backyard, popcorn at a baseball game, and — of course — rotting trash.

Rotting trash? It seems not all summer scents are pleasant ones. Heat can be unkind to trash containers, restrooms and carpets, and when these common culprits start stinking, manufacturers step in with a slew of odor control solutions.

Of course, most odor-control programs include preventative measures to nip nasty odors in the bud before bad smells proliferate. Perfumes and cover-ups aren’t enough; effective odor control requires products that counteract smells. In fact, the topic comes up often in any odor-control conversation.

Customers’ most common question, says Arnold Zlotnik, president of SurcoTech, a division of Surco Products Inc., Pittsburgh, is whether his company’s products mask odors or actually eliminate them.

“Our response is they do both,” Zlotnik says. “We have a fragrance in our product that does a certain amount of masking, and we have a true odor counteractant, which actually bonds with odor molecules and neutralizes odor at the molecular level.”

Waterbury Cos., Waterbury, Conn., a pioneer in metered air freshening products, has broadened its product line to mirror its “environmental hygiene” approach to odor control. Its products now address an entire facility’s odor control needs with a number of advanced technologies, and there’s more in the pipeline.

New product releases, slated for later this year, will employ ultraviolet light to sanitize the air and ozone to deodorize the air, says Rob Wolfson, Waterbury’s brand manager for the global hygiene division. The company is also concentrating on a touch-free product line that allows no-touch fixture cleaning and no-touch cleaning of urinals and toilets.
“We’re focusing on end users’ needs and enhancing the overall environmental hygiene experience in the workplace,” Wolfson says.

Successful odor control programs generally combine a method or methods of eliminating odors (enzyme-producing bacterial formulations, for example), with a method of dispensing fragrance. Together, these strategies are the best way to keep foul odors at bay.

No Summer Vacation
Summer is prime time for odor problems. “Basically, in the summertime we have a higher need for odor control. Carpets get mustier, and your Dumpsters need to be freshened. You also have insects coming around,” says Les Brodie, vice president of sales for CDC Products Corp., New Hyde Park, N.Y. CDC carries one product for rodent control and one for flying insects for use in trash containers.

Waterbury’s Wolfson says sales of the company’s metered dispensers for fly control pick up during the summer months, as well.

“We see an upturn in sales of that product during the summer,” he says. “It controls flies and flying insects particularly in the foodservice environment, but also in other public areas.”

However, the need for odor control doesn’t end when the leaves turn or when the first snow falls. With indoor climates fairly consistent in temperature, facility managers must address odors year-round.

“Restroom areas and carpeting are the biggest sources of odor problems,” says Todd Sauser, director of marketing for Nilodor, Bolivar, Ohio. “Dumpsters would follow that.”

Though Sauser agrees the summer — as well as high-humidity months — are especially challenging, odor control should be a constant priority.

“There’s a need for odor control 24/7, 365 days a year,” he adds. “It’s more magnified on some days than others, depending on traffic patterns and weather, too.”

“Heat accelerates the bacterial breakdown process, which increases odor,” says Nivia Saint Surin, marketing assistant for Hygolet Inc., Deerfield Beach, Fla. “Increased traffic from tourism and travel requires more frequent cleaning, yet makes it more difficult to access the restroom because of that increase in traffic. Therefore,” she adds, “any products that reduce how frequently the staff must deodorize the restroom are helpful.” Hygolet also produces an automatic seat cover, a disposable bag for feminine products and a line of fragrances.

Labor Savers
Manufacturers — and most end users — acknowledge that the need for odor control is there, but how they promote their products to customers varies. One aspect that many customers find appealing is an odor control product or system’s ability to save money by reducing labor. But do odor-control systems really lend themselves to labor savings?

You bet, says Michelle DeVito, CDC’s senior vice president. She recently sold odor-control disks to a movie theater, and because the disks kept odors in check so well, the theater only needed to be cleaned twice a day instead of its usual four times.

Nilodor’s Sauser also touts the labor-saving aspects of his company’s products. For instance, he says, if a contractor or janitor uses an odor neutralizer in conjunction with mop water, he won’t have to re-mop as often.

“By following the program approach we offer, it seems to do a better job of controlling odor, and it saves them in the long run,” Sauser adds.

Reducing labor is also top of mind for Waterbury, says Wolfson, especially when it comes to its no-touch fixtures and dispensers.

“We can reduce labor by reducing the amount of manual cleaning for janitors and custodians,” he says. “We can offer quantifiable labor savings. We can also show how the use of no-touch systems can reduce cross contamination and days lost from labor.”

Hygolet’s “hygoMat” saves labor by protecting tile and grout around urinals from splashes, therefore requiring less frequent cleaning.

“The hygoMat is the first disposable mat that contains a germ-killing antimicrobial agent,” Saint Surin adds. “Other mats only contain a fragrance that temporarily conceals odors.”

Makes Scents
Fragrances round out a facility’s comprehensive odor control program. Also, they are important factors in customer decision making. They have proven to be a key ingredient in odor control manufacturers’ product lines. Manufacturers’ trademark scents allow them to distinguish themselves from competitors in the marketplace.

CDC’s DeVito says her company’s advice with fragrances is to strictly avoid creating a “fruit salad effect,” where a lot of fragrances are mixing.

“One of the biggest problems is that [customers] try to mix them all together,” says DeVito. “There’s still a mentality that a heavier fragrance applied to the odor problem is going to make it go away. Generally, instead of going away, it makes it worse.”

Manufacturers of commercial odor-control products say their fragrances often take cues from popular scents within consumer markets. Popular candle and air freshener scents also lend themselves to commercial customers’ tastes.

Customers are shifting away from traditional lemon, cherry and pine scents toward more sophisticated scents that incorporate floral notes, aromatherapy-inspired scents and “at-the-spa” experiences. For distributors, this trend creates new opportunities to market products to specific customers.

“By adding some of these more sophisticated fragrances to their line of cleaners, they’re able to get a higher price — people are willing to pay more,” says Zlotnik.

“Today, you have a more educated customer and the consumer demands a higher quality fragrance, so you’re not stuck with the old fragrances from long ago,” says Zlotnik, who adds that SurcoTech makes all its fragrances in-house.

What’s popular among today’s customers?

“More non-descript florals. They’re actually blends, but it’s a combination of a few types of florals,” Zlotnik says. “The trend is away from single-note fragrances, toward more complex fragrance blends.” The company’s “mandarin twist” scent, for instance, incorporates mandarin, grapefruit and plum notes.

Whatever happens to be the flavor of the day, manufacturers of odor-control products are poised to bring distributors — and their customers — systems that help keep restrooms, carpets, trash areas — and anywhere else that produces odors — odor-free.