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How to Successfully Eliminate Restroom Odors in 3 Easy Steps

How to Successfully Eliminate Restroom Odors in 3 Easy Steps

A major problem in commercial restrooms is foul odor. Restroom odors can leave your guests believing that you do not properly maintain your facility or that your facility is unclean.  But what your guests do not realize is that even when you are performing consistent daily cleaning procedures, your facility can be plagued by foul restroom odors. In most facilities, 90% of restroom odors are caused by one common problem.

What is causing 90% of your restroom odors?

Urine is the most common source of unpleasant odor in both men’s and women’s restrooms.  

You might be wondering why you would be experiencing urine odors in your restroom when you perform daily restroom cleaning procedures. Surprisingly, cleaning your facility’s toilets and urinals every day is not enough. Eliminating urine odors goes beyond cleaning and disinfecting toilets and other high-touch surfaces in the restroom.

Most urine odors do not come from inside the toilet or urinal but from urine which did not make it into the toilet.

Every time a toilet is flushed tiny droplets are released into the air and settle on the floor and surrounding area. Urine then sticks on the floor and gets trapped in the grout.  

Two Common Cleaning Mistakes

The first common mistake facilities make is believing that the use of a cleaner/disinfectantOffensive Odors on the toilet and floor surrounding the toilet is enough to remove urine odors.

Cleaners or cleaners/disinfectants are not effective at removing urine stains or urine odors from the grout.  Applying cleaner/disinfectant is only the first step in removing urine odors.

The second common mistake facilities make when attempting to remove restroom odor is trying to eliminate the odor with the use of an air freshener. Air fresheners will only cover or mask the smell of urine until the chemicals in the air freshener dissolve.

How Do I Successfully Eliminate Urine Odors?

Urine is a substance that causes organic stains. Urine contains uric acid, proteins, carbohydrates, and other byproducts that attract harmful bacteria. Whether urine is splashed onto the floor from toilets or is just from “bad aim”, once it settles into the grout, it becomes a host and food source for harmful bacteria.

Warm uric acid combined with the typical humid restroom environment makes it easy for the bacteria to continue growing. Harmful bacteria will feed on the urine and multiply for as long as the urine remains. As bacteria continues to multiply and grow, the foul urine odor will grow.  

The best way to remove urine odors from your restroom floor is with an odor digester.

What is an odor digester?

Odor digesters are a bio-enzymatic product.   

Bio-enzymatic cleaning products contain bacteria and enzymes that penetrate organic stains (such as urine). The “good” bacteria and enzymes from the bio-enzymatic product will eat the “bad” bacteria from the stain and eliminate the odor. This process is called biodegradation.

Steps to Removing Urine Odor From Grout

Eliminating urine odor can be done in combination with daily restroom cleaning procedures.

You should perform these procedures once a day to ensure that your restrooms remain free of any unpleasant odors caused by urine stains.

Preparing to Clean

It is important to begin any cleaning procedure with the proper tools, commercial cleaning supplies, and personal protective equipment (PPE).


  • GlovesSafety Glasses
  • Goggles

Cleaning Supplies:

  • Odor Digester


  • Mop
  • Wet/Dry Vacuum

Always begin any cleaning procedure by putting on the necessary personal protective equipment.

Step 1 Perform Daily Restroom Cleaning Procedures

If you are following our Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Your Commercial Restroom in 14 Steps, you apply odor digester after you have completed all 14 steps.  The application of Odor digester is the last step before exiting the restroom. 

Pro Tip: Do not mop or clean the floor after applying odor digester.  Odor digester should sit on the floor until it is dry or until it reaches the recommended dwell time and has been removed. Applying water or other chemicals before the odor digester has dried or been removed will cause the odor digester to lose efficacy.

Make sure you have removed all visible debris and soil before step 2.

Step 2 Apply Odor Digester

Using a trigger sprayer, apply the odor digester around the bottom of toilets, on any surrounding grout, around the inside of urinals, and on any grout behind or below urinals.

Make sure to sufficiently wet the entire area.

Pro Tip: For extremely dirty restrooms or if the restroom is not regularly maintained, use an automatic floor scrubber with a brush attachment.

A brush must be used so that it extends into the grout to penetrate deep stains and odors on your restroom floor.

A pad will not be effective in scrubbing the grout because it will only reach the surface of the floor, not down into lower grout lines. If you do not have an automatic floor scrubber use a scrub brush or tile & grout brush.

Step 3 Let Odor Digester Dwell or Dry

After the product has been applied to the affected surfaces, let the product sit for the recommended contact time or until it dries.  

Pro Tip: What is contact time?

Contact time is the amount of time that the product will need to remain wet on a surface to effectively penetrate the stain to remove odors.

Allowing the odor digester to dry for as long as possible will minimize the amount of odor digester that will stick to occupant’s shoes and get tracked out of the restroom and through other parts of your facility.

The dry time will depend on how much odor digester is applied, but as long as the product has had some time to sit on the floor, the floor can be opened even when the floor is still a little wet.Rubbermaid Floor Sign with 'Caution Wet Floor' imprint, 2 sided

Warning: Opening the floor too early can present a slip hazard to your guests. Make sure to post wet floor signs if you choose to open your restroom before the floor is completely dry.   

If you are using a product that needs to be removed, use a wet-vacuum or mop to pick up any remaining solution.

Pro Tip: We recommend the use of a wet/dry vacuum to remove any residual chemical because using a mop will leave residual chemical or water behind, allowing for odor to recur.

Check with the manufacturer’s guidelines to see if your product should be removed or if it is meant to dry on the area.

Final Thoughts 

Restroom odors can leave your guests with a negative impression of your facility.  Don’t let smelly restrooms affect your business.

Imperial Dade locations have a variety of commercial cleaning supplies and equipment to eliminate restroom odors, enhance your restroom’s image, increase cleanliness, and reduce customer complaints. We can provide your janitorial needs whether you’re in the United States, Puerto Rico, or the Caribbean.

Contact an Imperial Dade Specialist for a review of your current restroom cleaning procedures and to receive recommendations of the best products to help you eliminate stubborn restroom odors. 

Want to learn the14 steps to cleaning a commercial restroom? Download our restroom cleaning checklist:

Steps to Clean a Commercial Restroom Poster

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