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Managing Foul Odors In The Office

Work stinks. Unfortunately, sometimes it is pretty literal. Most people spend half their days in the office. When staying in one place for quite a while, you start getting too comfortable. It isn’t just you.

The more time you spend in your workspace, the more unpleasant things you begin to notice. From cobwebs, uneven floors, the crumbs left on the tables, and the ungodly sight of the pantry fridge, an unkempt office is a menagerie of all types of smells.

Good or bad, a shared space comes with a host of odors, and here is how you deal with them for your office.

Believe it or not, air quality or the odor inside the office affects the productivity or temperament of all employees. So keeping the office free from bad smells is vital to increasing work efficiency and keeping everyone in a good mood.

To eliminate bad smells, the first thing to tackle is determining and characterizing the source of the scent. Determining the smell will help determine the right action and procedure to eliminate these foul odors.

Common Causes of Bad Odor in the Office

Food Funk

The smell of the meals you’re bringing for lunch is the most common cause of bad smells in the office. Keeping the room well-ventilated or opening the window to lessen the smell spread would help manage food funks.

Natural Gas

This one calls for professional help. If the odor you are smelling smells like natural gas, it is most likely natural gas! For this instance, call the gas company to have the building checked immediately.


For the sewer smell to spread, a “day trap,” a drain trap, must have dried out already. In this situation, a plumber is the first person you should call, and they have the tools and ability to inject smoke into the drain or vent to identify air leaks.

Nail Polish or Alcohol

The smell of nail polish and rubbing alcohol can easily be characterized. Arguably, it is one of the most distinguishable scents out there. The only thing that you will have to do in this case is to locate the source of the smell and promptly ask them to refrain from using such products. Including this in your employee handbook might also be a good idea.

Varnish or VOCs

Smelling varnish comes from oil-based paints, mineral spirits, lab solvents, lighter fluids, or other chemicals called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which usually include gasoline solvents, turpentine, and a variety of different alcohols. It would be easy to locate where the smell is coming from because the nearer you get to it, the stronger the odor or smell becomes.


One of the most common foul odors in the office is probably coming from the outside. Often exhausts from labs, washrooms, construction, vehicles, or nearby places are being drawn and brought inside the office because of the exhaust system.

There are several reasons or causes of bad smells and odors in the office. Again, identifying the source should be your first recourse. Identifying the office cleaning service you need can be challenging without tackling this first step.

Dealing with Workplace Odors

Now that you have identified the leading causes of your office’s funky odors, it’s time to deal with them appropriately. To appropriately manage odors in the office, this process is relatively straightforward, and there are three efficient ways to ensure that smells and scents are properly addressed in the office:

Incorporating better ventilation systems into the office setup.

Proper positioning of employees away from chemicals in the bathroom, kitchen, and areas where chemicals are used. Changing processes in cleaning to ensure minimal odors are being released, especially during office hours.

Use Scent to Your Advantage in the Office

An article written by Scientific American says that people who work in a pleasant-smelling air freshener report higher self-efficacy, set higher goals, and are more likely to employ efficient work strategies than participants who work in an odor-free environment.

Employees surrounded by pleasant ambient scents were also found to be more alert during tedious tasks and to perform better on challenging tests. On the other hand, the article noted that people who work in environments filled with unpleasant smells experience an impaired sense of judgment and more frustration.

Scents can be used to your advantage while in the office. Some smells and scents can help stimulate the mind, increasing productivity and keeping everyone happy.

Scents that Boost Productivity

  • Basil

  • Cardamom

  • Cinnamon

  • Clove

  • Ginger

  • Peppermint

  • Sage

  • Scents that Reduce Stress

  • Bergamot

  • Lavender

  • Rose

  • Sandalwood

  • Ylang-ylang

According to a National Library of Medicine study, fragrances or scents can, directly and indirectly, affect humans' psychological and physiological conditions. This can be correlated with how smells, fragrances, or odors may affect the productivity and mood of the employees. It gives them a sense of relaxation, thus, reducing their stress.

Smells and odors, in general, greatly affect the office or workplace environment. The most important thing is keeping the bad smells and pleasing odors in. This will help employees increase productivity and creativity, thus, creating a conducive environment for working.

Have problems with the general smell of your office? Confused about where to start and interested in making your office odors work to your advantage? We have got you covered!

To schedule a consultation or for more information, follow the link below:

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