Regardless of facility type, keeping restrooms odour-free is a common challenge.

A variety of factors can impact washroom smells, including the age of the restroom, type and amount of ventilation, temperature, and cleaning frequency, processes and products used.

Since structural components are more difficult to change, proper cleaning is the best way to keep restroom odours under control.


Identifying the cause of the malodour is the first step in any successful restroom cleaning program, closely followed by removal of the source.

In most cases, urine is the culprit, which becomes a feeding ground for bacteria. The bacteria rapidly grow as the urine changes from acid to alkaline salts. The alkaline salts attract more moisture, which allows the bacterial growth process to renew and causes a stronger odour until the bacteria is destroyed.

Odour-causing uric salts lurk in many areas of a restroom, including in and around toilets and urinals, on tile surfaces, grout lines, walls and ceilings, and even in drains.


Fragrance or an odour-control system can be used to mask the stink; however, these products only provide a temporary fix. They do not address the root cause of the unpleasant scent. As a result, the malodour will remain or even become worse with time.

Bio-enzymatic cleaners, on the other hand, eliminate the bacteria food source and neutralize existing odours. They are specially formulated with non-pathogenic bacteria that produce enzymes (a type of protein that breaks complex molecules into smaller pieces), ‘good’ bacteria that allows them to break down soils, an odour neutralizer or counteractant and traditional chemistries that help saturate surfaces. Together, these components essentially eat and digest chemical and organic waste found on tile, grout, carpet and other fabrics as well as in drains. This process is often referred to as bacterial digestion.

What’s more, bio-enzymatic cleaners continue to work as much as 80 hours after they have been applied to surfaces. This is especially effective when cleaning heavily soiled tile and grout. The grout can become cleaner even two or three days after application. An added bonus is odour relief. When bio-enzymatic cleaners are applied to these soiled areas, the organic waste becomes ‘food’ for the bacteria, which consumes it. Resultantly, surface odours are immediately eliminated. With regular product use, deeply embedded odours will diminish over time.


Bio-enzymatic cleaners are often considered safer for the environment and human health than other cleaning products because they harness the power of cleaning chemistry with naturally occurring microbes. However, as with all cleaning chemicals, green or conventional, they must be used according to manufacturer’s instructions to ensure worker safety and optimal results.

Bio-enzymatic cleaners should never be used in conjunction with bleach or chemical disinfectants. Safety is not the primary issue here; rather, there’s concern about performance and effectiveness. In general, bleach and most disinfectants will minimize or eliminate the cleaning ability of bio-enzymatic cleaners. Conversely, the presence of bio-enzymes may degrade the microbial efficacy of the bleach or disinfectant. /

By Jennifer Meek

Jennifer Meek is director of marketing at Charlotte Products Ltd., a leading manufacturer of Enviro-Solutions’ proven green cleaning chemicals. She has been involved with the green and professional cleaning industries for more than 11 years.