Calling Sherlock Holmes to Locate Mysterious Restroom Odors

Sometimes, finding the source of odors in facility restrooms can seem to take nothing less than a super sleuth like Sherlock Holmes. Most facility managers know that the most common restroom malodor culprits—tile and grout areas; porous floors; inadequately or improperly cleaned fixtures, walls, and floors—are places where bacteria develop. And when bacteria develop, so do restroom malodors.

However, even when restrooms are cleaned top to bottom using the most advanced cleaning technologies and skilled cleaning professionals, sometimes malodors still persist. In these situations, managers may need to put on their Sherlock Holmes caps to locate the mysterious odors.

One place to start is restroom ceilings. How often are the ceilings in the restrooms cleaned? In most cases, they are cleaned only when the restroom is painted, which could be anywhere from three to five years or more. Many times odors are emanating from restroom ceilings, and, when this happens, the odor problem can grow over time. This is because the ceilings in most restrooms are moist. A moist ceiling provides a perfect habitat for airborne bacteria to grow and thrive, resulting in restroom odors.

To address this problem, restroom ceilings should be cleaned every few months. This can be a messy job; however, one way to make it a bit less challenging is to use a spray-and-vac cleaning system. View these machines as indoor pressure washers. They pressure-clean the ceiling, rinse it, and then have a built-in vacuum to absorb the moisture and soil. Cleaning workers should always wear goggles and gloves when performing this type of work.

If cleaning the ceilings does not solve the mystery, our next stop is the floors—or, more specifically, under the floors. The odor may be coming from the floor drains. If you could pull up the floor in your restroom and look at the piping to the floor drain, you would see that the pipe is shaped like an “P” or “U.”

The pipes are specially designed like this because this allows the pipe to hold a small amount of water. It is this small amount of water that blocks odors from coming up from the sewer.

But here’s the problem. The water in the curve of the pipe can evaporate over time, allowing sewer odors to escape. This happens frequently in all types of facilities because, very often, the only time some water might seep into the floor drain is when the floor is mopped. And usually this is not very much water so it is likely it will evaporate quickly.

An option to keep this evaporation from happening for several months if not longer and help prevent drain-related odors is to pour a small amount of EverPrime in the drain. You can also use this product in sinks, kitchen drains, and HVAC systems in the same way.

This is a very inexpensive way to keep drains working properly and avoid malodors that can negatively impact the indoor air quality for an entire facility.


For more information on keeping restrooms cleaning and healthy, how to reduce water consumption, waterless urinals, and use water more efficiently, please contact a Waterless Co representative.