When combatting men’s restroom odors, targeting the urinals is a great starting point. Uric salts are the cause of most odors and they can be found in urinal P-traps and drains as well as the urinal itself. However, spills and drips also cause uric salts to find their way onto floors and into grout lines.

Anti-microbial, plastic urinal mats sit around the urinal base and have an absorbent pad underneath to collect drips of urine and water. The backing is treated with enzymatic agents that attack organic compounds before they begin to smell. Mats also may contain fragrances get released as the enzymes work.

“If someone uses the urinal and misses their target, the urine falls into these mats rather than on the floor, where it can get into grout lines and continue to grow,” says Malik Mantro, marketing director at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Armchem International Corp.

Urinal mats are designed to be thrown away. While most manufacturers claim mats can be used up to 30 days, restroom traffic actually dictates how often they must be changed, Mantro says.

Mats are often used improperly, thus contributing to the odors they’re meant to address. Typically mats are used in high-traffic restrooms where custodians put them down and leave them for 30 days, says Eric Cadell, vice president of operations for Dutch Hollow Janitorial Supplies of Belleville, Ill.

“But in a high-traffic restroom they don’t last that long,” he adds. “They have a certain amount of liquid they can hold before they reach their total saturation point and stop working.”

Unfortunately, many operations do not understand the relationship between restroom traffic and urinal mat life. Distributors should work with their customers to determine how often the mats should be changed. For each restroom the question should be: “What is the total saturation point?”

“You may have several hundred people using the restroom and that mat might only last a day. Or because of light traffic that mat might last a month,” says Cadell. “It’s going to vary by day, and it’s going to vary for every restroom in the building.”

Urinals are just one source of odors in the restroom, but by using an effective cleaning program that includes mats distributors can help end users stem the problem in this troublesome area.

Ronnie Garrett is a freelance writer based in Fort Atkinson, Wis.