How to: Eliminate Bad Odours from Toilets & Washrooms

How to: Eliminate Bad Odours from Toilets & Washrooms

There are many common reasons a washroom may have an unpleasant smell. In this blog we discuss all the reasons a washroom area may have a strange odour, as well as, solutions that will make said area look and smell as good as new.

Depending upon the cause of the unpleasant smell emanating from your washrooms there are four main solutions to eliminating that bad odour permanently.

These are, in order of potential cost:

Do your commercial washrooms have an unpleasant aroma, is there a permanent bad odour or the lingering smell of urine?

Whilst the problem persists the staff, clients and other visitors may form an unflattering and undeserved opinion of the business or premises afflicted. The consensus being that if the washrooms smell then it is perceived to have poor hygiene, a lack of care and poor management throughout the entire premises.

Causes of Bad Odours in Washrooms

Due to the frequency of use, and lack of care by users of business toilets and commercial washrooms bad odours are not an unusual problem. The solution is usually dependent upon identifying the underlying cause/source and then selecting the right solution. However, it cannot be stressed enough that strictly speaking usually the cause of any smell or odour will be bacteria or the presence of other organic compounds and there will be a reason why the bacteria has multiplied to such a level that it is creating an overpowering odour.

Washrooms will accumulate high levels of harmful bacteria and viruses with every use and every flush. Each flush of a toilet or urinal forces faecal micro-organisms into the air, which then settle on washroom surfaces. This harmful bacteria can also cause nasty and unpleasant odours.

This bacteria can also be present due to any of the following issues:

  • Faulty plumbing, 
  • Insufficient cleaning, 
  • Poor maintenance, 
  • The lack of ventilation, 
  • Or a combination of any of those reasons. 

Depending upon the cause there may or may not be permanent damage to washroom furniture and the causes and source should be identified prior to deciding upon the correct strategy for rectifying.

Full Washroom Refurbishment

The most extreme and expensive of the solutions is a full washroom refurbishment. The main benefit of such a strategy to remove unwanted smells and scents will be that all the washroom fixtures and fittings where bacteria is breeding will be renewed, replaced and the plumbing will be clearly visible for inspection.

Any established and ingrained colonies of bacteria breeding within or on washrooms surfaces will be physically removed and the smell will leave with the old washroom furniture. Although since the cause of any scent hasn't been identified or treated eventually the problem will reoccur.

Even after a washroom refurbishment if the bacteria had an opportunity to multiply and cause an unwelcome odour before it will likely happen again. This could be down to cleanliness and care of users, poor ventilation or insufficient cleaning. So the reason for and location of the odour should still be identified prior to commencing expensive remodelling work.

With a correct washroom specification backed up by a sufficient budget the issue will be corrected permanently albeit, at great cost, this is probably only a worthwhile solution when the washroom is at the end of its useful life.

Renew the sanitary ware and/or washroom panels

Especially in men’s bathrooms washrooms and toilet facilities, bad smells are likely to be caused by urine. It could be soaked in timber panels, accumulating behind duct sets, leaking from hidden plumbing, or the uric acid can even build up within the urinal waste pipes. In ladies washrooms it common areas for bad smells are the toilet waste pipes.

It could be possible that renewal of these features alone will remove the smell but as before it will likely return, so careful consideration should be given to the original cause. However if the original cause is plumbing related this too should be renewed.

This is less expensive than a full washroom refurbishment and remodel, yet probably just as effective. This strategy is still prohibitively expensive in most cases except where the plumbing is at fault and urine or other organic compounds has soaked into furniture, in which case this is likely the most suitable solution.

Commission a one-off hygiene/deep clean and review maintenance schedule

Cleaning alone can successfully reduce the number of bacteria multiplying in the washroom providing temporary respite from the smell.

A hygiene clean can be carried out by most competent contract cleaning companies and they may use special bacteria killing odour naturalising cleaning chemicals. However, cleaning and use of specially formulated chemicals will only reduce bacteria numbers temporarily. You can't eliminate bacteria completely.

However, the presence of professional cleaners and decisive action will establish some goodwill with stakeholders affected by the nasty smell and buy time to remedy the situation. At the same time the maintenance schedule should be reviewed, for example, if uric acid had built up in urinal wastes this should be cleared and the urinal flushing frequency increased. This may permanently remedy the solution but there is no firm guarantee.

A specialist clean to the degree required will likely not come cheap and an average sized washroom will likely require two contractors and a half to full day to complete, however, it will be far cheaper and less intrusive than any degree of refurbishment.Anchor

Install an odour and infection control unit

Unlike other washroom odour solutions, the AirSteril kills bacteria and viruses in the air and on nearby surfaces, therefore neutralising unpleasant smells and improving commercial washroom hygiene. As it runs all day every day it will continually control the bacteria levels within the washroom.

Commercial Washrooms would usually recommend an AirSteril odour and infection control unit is installed alongside any of the other solutions listed above to keep bacteria levels low. Although it can also be a stand-alone solution where the problem was caused by a lapse in maintenance or perhaps careless washroom users.

Assuming there are no faults with the plumbing and airflow in the washroom is adequate this could perhaps be the cheapest and most effective method of odour control in many commercial washrooms.

As always, our team are at the end of the telephone for all your queries and questions and have a wealth of knowledge they’re happy to share with you. So if you need some guidance, or would like to talk over your options, you can give them a call on 01202 650900.

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