In a men’s restroom, urinals present a common source for uric salts and their impending odor. Urinal screens offer an effective means of odor control in between restroom cleaning. But end users must familiarize themselves with the types of screens available and select the appropriate one for the job. All urinal screens are not created equal, says Malik Mantro, marketing director at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Armchem International Corp.

Before screens, end users put in para blocks — hockey puck-shaped white blocks that contained para-dichlorobenzene — to emit a fragrance and mask odors. (Many states have banned the use of these systems because of their carcinogenic content.)

Today urinal screens have entered the picture as an effective means of keeping urinal drains free flowing. These screens fit over the drain and act as a net to catch debris such as cigarettes, paper and other refuse.

Some urinal screens do more than simply provide a barrier, however. They also release fragrances so when the urinal is being used patrons smell a pleasant scent rather than urine.

In addition, some screens release enzymes during use to attack uric salt inside urinal P-traps and lines.

“It’s a huge benefit to change over to screens with an enzyme,” says Eric Cadell, vice president of operations for Dutch Hollow Janitorial Supplies of Belleville, Ill. “Enzymes dissolve organic compounds and emit a fragrance as they work.”

If screens just emit a fragrance and not enzymes, “then it’s the equivalent of paying someone to stand there and spray air freshener in someone’s face,” says Cadell.

Most urinal screens are disposable and can be discarded after the urinal block in the screen breaks down or dissolves. And they shrink over their lifetime to provide a visual alert as to when they must be replaced.

Screens must be changed every 30 days to do their job effectively. After a month there are no fragrances or enzymes left, so the screen won’t be combatting odors. Effective restroom programs include a urinal screen change-out schedule, says Mantro.

Screens along with mats and wall-mounted dispensers can be part of a fragrance-layering program to ensure restrooms always smell freshly cleaned.

Fragrances lose their strength over time, so urinal screens, mats and wall-mounted dispensers should all be matched to the same scent and then replaced at different intervals, says Cadell. For example, the custodial operation would change out mats as needed, then on the first of the month, replace urinal screens. On the 15th of the month, the operation would change out the wall-mounted, metered fragrance.

“What you’ve done is layer the fragrance,” says Cadell. “On the 16th day when the urinal screen starts to gradually lose its fragrance, you’ve replaced the other odor control system, so that the fragrance remains stable over the entire month.”

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