Studies have shown that the sense of smell is the strongest and most vivid for long term memory. People recall smells with 65% accuracy after one year while visual recall sinks to 50% after only 3 months.
The average human can recognize approximately 10,000 different odors. Since the senses are the physiological methods of perception, if it “smells clean” it must be clean. Unfortunately this is not always the case.
In the cleaning industry we have often relied on scented cleaning agents to provide the client with a sense of “cleanliness” Restroom cleanliness is a touchstone for overall facility cleanliness and probably the greatest percentage of customer complaints are rest room related. It is not surprising then that our greatest concentration of scented cleaning agents are utilized in the rest rooms. This includes those nifty automated scent dispensers that are programmed to provide us with a pleasing fragrance every so many seconds.
Enter the evolution of green cleaning and we are faced with the task of providing a truly clean rest room without the aid of products to mask odors.
We are challenged to clean with environmentally friendly ingredients and chemicals and avoid the use reactive and toxic products and the emission of volatile organic compounds which have been reported to cause respiratory and dermatological problems.
Fragrance now becomes the culprit as many contain phthalates, which are chemicals linked to reproductive abnormalities and liver cancer in lab animals and asthma in children. in 2007 “Fragrance” was voted Allergen of the Year by the American Dermatitis Society. In September of 2002 researchers at the CDC reported that they found 7 different types of phthalates in the bodies of 289 persons tested.
Air fresheners and room deodorizers and their toxins can include Naphthalene, Terpenes, Dichlorobenzene and Phthalates.
So how can you pass the “sniff test” if you eliminate all fragrance in the rest rooms ? It is incumbent upon the cleaning professional to thoroughly address the source of the odor and eliminate it.
Environmental microbiologist Charles Gerba demonstrated that flushing the toilet causes aerosolized particles to float as far as 6 to 8 feet up and out. How often are you addressing the cleaning of walls, partitions and ceilings ? How many times have you checked a toilet or urinal and while the inside was clean, what about all the urine deposits on the underside (especially the urinals). Many of us have walked into a restroom and found the walls and partitions by the urinals with urine stains. How well do you really clean under the inside toilet rim and the underside of the seat ? What about faucets, flush handles, door handles and switch plates ? Do you just mop the floor night after night or do you provide a deep machine cleaning ? How do you address floor drains and sink traps ? Cleaning without fragrance can be accomplished but it will take more attention to detail, more repetitive frequency and a little more elbow grease.