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Ensuring a positive guest experience is one of the most important goals of every lodging establishment. It’s also one of the most difficult to achieve. Bad experiences can lead to bad reviews, discouraging repeat visits and scaring off new customers, all of which can lead to revenue loss. 

While some issues arise on the day of a guest’s stay and cannot be mitigated, some problems, like foul odors, can be addressed before they become major customer complaints.

There are many malodors, but the most frequent odors a guest may encounter are musty or mildew and smoky smells. With the right tools and products, these smells can easily be removed to help you create a better guest experience. 

The two most common malodors in hotels are musty, mildew smells and smoky smells. 

Musty or mildew odors are usually caused by moisture accumulation. This moisture can come from showers, spills, leaks, or humidity and accumulate in bathrooms, on the walls and ceiling, and on the floor.  

Excess moisture creates mold in a damp environment, and mildew can easily grow. Mold and mildew growth are the leading causes of mildewy or musty smells.  

The foul smell can only worsen if the room has poor ventilation. These odors are then trapped in soft surfaces, such as carpeting and curtains.  

While some of these smells are a direct result of guest action, such as spills on the carpet, some result from larger issues. For example, if a leak is causing the odor, you must repair the leak to prevent the smell from returning. 

On the other hand, smoky smells are usually left by the previous guests and are not preventable.    

Some guests may smoke in a room, even if it is a non-smoking room. This can leave a harsh smell of smoke throughout the room.  

A smoky smell can be present in the room even if the guest does not smoke in the room. Smoke, from cigarettes or other paraphernalia, can penetrate most fabrics.The smoky smell can be left on their clothing, which can then be transferred to other fabrics in the room.  

To eliminate these and other odors from your rooms, you’ll want to select odor neutralizers as they eliminate smells at the source. Air fresheners can only mask the smell, and the smell can worsen without proper treatment.  

Air fresheners are designed to disperse a scent through the air, typically using perfumes. There are two types of air fresheners: passive and active.  

Passive air fresheners need to be exposed to the air to work. The scent will disperse throughout the room unaided.  

If the air freshener requires power to spread the aroma throughout the room, it is an active air freshener. These can be plugged into an outlet or powered by batteries.  

Air fresheners are not effective at destroying malodors because they simply mask a bad smell with perfumes rather than destroying the malodor. Once the perfumes wear off, the malodors will return.  

Odor neutralizers actively work to eliminate malodors. These products target the source of the odor, encapsulate it, and then destroy it. This prevents the odors from returning.  

A uniformed maid sprays air freshener from a plastic bottle. Hands in white cotton gloves. Copy space. The concept of the hotel business.

Depending on the strength of the odor, you may need to apply a second treatment.  

It’s also important to ensure you’ve addressed any issues that continue to cause odors. For example, if you have a leak that is not resolved, it will continue to create malodors. Despite using odor neutralizers, these foul smells will return until the leak is resolved. 

Removing the foul odors in your hotel rooms is an important part of creating a positive guest experience, so you should use a neutralizer for maximum effectiveness 

To remove musty odors, we recommend using Victoria Bay’s Capri Original Odor Neutralizer . This general-purpose air neutralizer eliminates most odors and can be used for general deodorizing, garbage compactors, vehicles, and more. You’ll notice an immediate air quality improvement and the product will leave behind a fresh citrus scent.  

To use this general deodorizer, you should first clean the area you intend to treat. For example, if you’re trying to remove musty odors from the carpet, vacuum the floor.

When the area is cleaned, spray it with Capri Original Odor Neutralizer until damp. If the odor is particularly strong, you may need to administer a second treatment.  

Allow the affected area to dry after treatment.

Because Capri Original Odor Neutralizer is a general deodorizer, it can also effectively address smoky smells. However, there are also products designed specifically to remove smoke odors from cigarettes, marijuana, and vapes.   

Fresh Products has developed several odor neutralizers designed to specifically remove smoke odors. Smoke Eliminator is designed to remove smoke odors from cigarettes, while Blaze Haze specifically addresses marijuana smoke.  

These products are safe for most fabrics and surfaces, though they should be avoided on silk and leather. Before use, you should spot test for colorfastness.  

These products are administered the same way as Capri Original Odor Neutralizer. 

Ensure the treatable area is dry and cleaned of general dirt and debris. 

Once cleaned, spray the product on until damp.  For particularly pungent smells, a second application of the product may be necessary to remove smoke odors.  

Let the area fully dry.

Regardless of the product you use, always review the directions on the label before using. These will provide specific product use instructions, which may differ between products. These labels should also indicate what personal protective equipment (PPE) may be necessary.  


Final Thoughts 

Foul odors are manageable when tackled with the right products.

Musty odors are often due to moisture accumulation from showers, spills, leaks, or humidity, leading to mold and mildew growth, especially in poorly ventilated areas. Smoky smells usually come from guests smoking in or near non-smoking rooms, as smoke can permeate fabrics. 

Effective odor removal requires odor neutralizers that eliminate smells at the source, unlike air fresheners that only mask odors. 

Products like Victoria Bay’s Capri Original Odor Neutralizer and Fresh Products’ Smoke Eliminator and Blaze Haze are recommended for their efficacy. Proper use involves cleaning the area, applying the product, and possibly administering a second treatment for strong odors. Addressing underlying issues, such as leaks, is essential to prevent odors from recurring.

We can help you find odor neutralizers that will be safe for use on your surfaces and effectively eliminate malodors from your hotel rooms. Contact one of our experts at Imperial Dade to help you determine which product is most suited for your needs.  

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