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Study: Here’s Why Mens’ Bathrooms Stink—And How to Defunk Them

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Feb 6, 2017 9:45:00 AM

Although an 18-month study may have been unnecessary, it confirms what most people already know. Urine goes astray.mens urinal smells.jpg

Attention anyone who has ever cleaned a bathroom. Your observations about the inaccuracy of male urination are confirmed. Like E=MC2, it’s a law of the universe. Here’s a news release from the company that sponsored research on why mens’ rooms get so nasty, and what to do about the problem.

Our editors considered carefully whether this story has a “green” angle. We decided that the original press release below is long on the problem, but short on specific solutions. In our view, if the issue can be addressed without tearing out tiles, grout and wall partition, even a chemical solution is probably the more sustainable fix than the total greenhouse gas footprint of a remodel So we added a section at the bottom offering SPECIFIC low impact remedial approaches to the odor problem.

Toledo, OH - An 18-month study conducted by the University of Toledo and Impact Products, a leading manufacturer of innovative tools and products for the professional cleaning and building industries, reveals that there are four core areas in a restroom from which most restroom odors emanate.

The findings were based on field studies, air testing, and interviews with restroom users, custodial workers, and janitorial managers. According to the research, the following are the root causes and primary locations of restroom odor:

Missing the target: Uric acid, as a result of men urinating on floors, walls, or their shoes, causes bacteria buildup, which produces odors.

Splashes: Even when the target has been successfully met, uric acid may still splatter on surrounding surfaces; most impacted are adjacent partitions.

Urine in grout areas: Found in both men’s and women’s restrooms, urine is absorbed into grout; as the uric acid in the urine builds up, once again odors are released.

Ineffective maintenance: While uric acid was identified as the key odor-causing culprit, it appears many of the products, tools, or cleaning solutions used to clean restrooms were not effectively removing the uric acid and, with it, restroom odors.

“The study also confirmed what similar studies have uncovered,” says Robb Borgen, director of marketing at Impact Products. “That is that most public restroom users perceive a restroom as dirty based on its smell, no matter how it may look.”

To combat restroom odors, Borgen suggests that cleaning professionals and building managers develop a comprehensive odor-fighting system that comprises the following four components:

  • Determine what is causing the odors (in most cases, uric acid).
    • Determine where the odors are occurring.
    • Determine what types of cleaning products (tools, equipment, solutions) can best eradicate the odor.
    • Deploy an odor control solution, such as a fragrance or an olfactory disruption that changes odor perception, to leave behind a fresh scent.

GBM: The approach above essentially masks odors rather than removing them, albeit with a compound that is Low-VOC and non toxic. If you want to go a step further, some urine smells can be neutralized. You can purchase enzymatic cleaners online, or create your own home-made odor neutralizer, such as this relatively benign one offered by Wikihow: “In a spray bottle, mix 5 ounces of hydrogen peroxide, 1 teaspoon of vinegar, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/2 a teaspoon of orange-scented dishwashing liquid or 3 drops of wild orange essential oil. Shake the bottle to combine ingredients thoroughly. Then spray the affected area until very damp and allow to fully dry. It will look like a powder as the formula dries. Then vacuum up the powder.”

About Impact Products, LLC
Impact Products is a manufacturer and supplier of branded and private label non-chemical commercial cleaning, maintenance, safety and related products, Visit their website for more information.







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