To many of your customers, unpleasant odors are both mysterious and unwanted. Unless there is an obvious source to the malodor, your customers will turn to you and demand that you determine the cause and fix it as soon as possible. After all, no one wants to live or work with a pervasive and sometimes even maddening smell that could very well indicate a dangerous infestation of mold or chemical reaction. As a restoration processional, you already know that you can’t dismiss a bad odor and hope that it goes away or apply a generic or uniform treatment, as identifying the source and applying the most effective treatment can be a complicated process that often involves correctly measuring the strengths and densities of the malodor in question.

Here’s a list of some of the more common methods for treating and eliminating malodors:

Absorbents – these solid materials are designed to capture and hold odors on their surface. An example of applying an absorbent is leaving an open box of baking soda in your refrigerator. Installing a carbon filter on an air scrubber is also a good example of correctly applying an absorbent.

Neutralizers – these products and treatments alter the chemical compound of an odor by applying a chemical with the opposite pH value to bring the overall pH to seven. An example of a neutralizing treatment includes directly applying baking soda on an acid spill. Although we previously cited baking soda as an example of an absorbent, it is applied for a different purpose when used as a neutralizer.

Oxidizers– oxidation occurs when oxygen combines with another element, chemical, or substance. When combined with an odor molecule, it will break it down and convert it into water vapor and other odorless and harmless gases without leaving any smell or residue. Utilizing an ozone machine is the best example of applying an oxidization treatment.

Antimicrobials/Biocides – these products contain chemical agents that kill or inhibit the growth of odor-causing microorganisms. Antimicrobials and biocides are used extensively in cleaning and restoration projects, especially for mold remediation, sewage, bio-hazard, and for flood clean up. (Sporicidin, Benefect, etc.)

Bio-enzymes – these products contain specific quantities and qualities of bacteria along with enzymes and microbial nutrients that essentially digest chemical and organic waste (or soils). Odor-causing bacteria are “food” for these microorganisms. It is important to note that bio-enzymes should only be used when cleaning organic matter such as animal feces and fuel oil. Furthermore, bio-enzymatic cleaners should never be used with a bleach or a disinfectant because combining them can reduce or will completely eliminate the effectiveness of all three products.

When your customers expect you to do the job right the first time, it’s good to know that you have so many tools to fight the funk. No matter how well you may have cleaned, if you chose the wrong treatment method your customer will notice it the minute they walk through the door. By correctly applying one or more of the treatments mentioned above, all they end up smelling is clean air, and you will be well on your way to completely satisfying another customer!