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This Web Exclusive article was contributed by Amanda Daluga, national sales director at OMI Industries, a provider of Fresh Wave IAQ odor abatement solutions for commercial environments. Throughout commercial buildings, of every type, there is the potential for unpleasant odors. Every day, facility managers battle the sources and resulting odors, as well as the perception that “clean” is determined not only in how something looks, but how something smells. From trash room and restroom odors to carpet and upholstery odors, developing a comprehensive odor management strategy to accompany and enhance their current cleaning efforts should be a top priority for facility managers everywhere. A popular way to deodorize a space or surface is through the use of traditional air fresheners, which really does quite the opposite of freshening the air; instead of remediating the odor issue, these products cover up odors with an artificially derived masking fragrance and a cocktail of harsh chemicals. What’s more, the combination of chemical compounds in many air care products can cause allergic reactions, including headaches and respiratory upsets, in people with even mild sensitivities. Driven in part by the belief that an eco-friendly product will generally be less effective than something with a more aggressive chemical base, this trend of masking odors is all too common. But because of the growing popularity of green solutions, great strides have been made in the development of natural products. Odor management solutions are just one area to benefit from this. Engineered from formulas that combine natural plant oils, food grade surfactants, and water, these solutions contain no harmful VOCs, no alcohol, and no masking fragrances, making them safe to use in any environment. Most importantly, many of these solutions are accomplishing what their chemically laden counterparts cannot: full elimination of facility odors. Here are a few examples of odor problem areas, and the ways in which sound odor management strategies can mitigate potential problems: Trash Areas and Dumpster Rooms Most facilities have designated areas for trash collection, with foul odors that can easily spread into other areas of the building: leaking food containers, overflowing garbage bins, and bags that have come untied (or not been properly placed into bins) all contribute to one large, messy area swamped with smells. It’s a safe assumption that the smell of refuse is bad for facility managers, with few occupants who will tolerate working in an area with garbage odors seeping through doors and windows. This can be a particularly unbearable circumstance during warm weather months, when dumpster area odors can become overwhelming. Keeping these areas clean and odor free by employing the right odor management strategies can go a long way in occupant satisfaction, all on top of contributing to higher property values. For these areas, it is recommended that facilities use odor elimating gels that can be placed directly into the trash areas. These solutions offer continuous release formulation that works round-the-clock to provide constant odor elimination. Public Restrooms Because of a variety of visceral causes, restroom odors are among the toughest to conquer for facility managers. Even with daily cleaning, most public restrooms have very poor airflow, and distinct odors can remain. And no matter how clean a restroom is, if there is an odor, it will be perceived as being dirty. According to a recent Harris Interactive poll, as many as 94% of facility patrons are unwilling to return to an establishment if the restrooms are unsanitary. In a very simple translation, this draws a parallel between odors and a negative impact on a facility’s bottom line. And as has been stated previously, when it comes to odor management, perception is reality. As public restrooms often need rapid and highly targeted odor control solutions, air and surface sprays are often the most ideal. These solutions instantly bond to, and eliminate, odor molecules in the air. The surface cleaners can also eliminate odor molecules that are resting on bathroom countertops and other surfaces. Carpet and Upholstery Odors Commercial buildings can contain miles of carpet and upholstery that are a veritable magnet for foul odors. From the wayward cigarette smoker to the spillage of food to the shoes that trample dirt and other outside elements, carpet and upholstery can trap odors for years. Sometimes, regardless of the cleaning methods employed, flooring and seating surfaces will retain some of the odors from the stains and soil causing them. Because of this, many facility managers will spend money to replace carpet and upholstery more often than is completely necessary. But with the right solution for abating carpet and upholstery odors, it is possible to get more life out of these surfaces, which translates to more money on the bottom line. As foul odors can become fully embedded into carpet and upholstery, there are odor mitigation solutions that can be easily added to a truck mount or a portable cleaning system to eliminate any odor deep within the fabric’s weave. From trash rooms to bathrooms and beyond, there are multiple sources for foul odors in any commercial facility. Fortunately, there are ways to develop a 360° odor management strategy that tackles all these problem areas in ways that are both effective and safe.