The Curious Case Of The Toilet That Smells All The Time

In Christian mythology, hell is sulphurous and the devil too smells of sulphur. You know, the rotten eggs smell that you occasionally experience in your washrooms. That is the devil, asking you to clean the washroom. And anybody who works in the janitorial business can testify that this smell exists and is real and that the washrooms they end up cleaning are often the very definition of hell. And if you have used a public washroom – at a restaurant, at a mall, at a fuel station, at a bus depot, at a railway station, at any place people gather – you know what we mean.

Public washrooms smell. And we don’t have enough sanitation workers to keep them from smelling. We don’t even have enough sanitation workers to keep them clean. Your typical urban mall will have at least 1000 people using the loo on a slow day. And they will have typically 1 person per shift to clean them. And they are most often burdened with products and solutions which not only do a temporary job of cleaning and masking odours, those products are actively affecting the health and safety of these workers and also of the people using these facilities. And not just malls. Places of worship, tourist attractions, even offices… all suffer from this dual attack of unsafe, unsanitary, unhygienic washrooms combined with cleaning solutions that harm instead of helping.

Let us start with the smells though. Are the foul smells in washrooms really rising up from hell? Most probably not. These smells, sulphurous though they may be, are often arising from the drainage and pipelines in washrooms. There are a number of reasons for these smells. Improperly laid plumbing lines and traps are often the number one reason. Leading directly to accumulation of stagnant or contaminated water in the drains. Another big reason for these smells is decomposition of organic waste by microbial contamination leading to formation of foul gases like ammonia and hydrogen sulphide. If there is something clogging the drains, the sewage flow in the drain pipes gets blocked and gases soon start building up. Factors like contaminated pipes and water, improper ventilation, faulty plumbing or in some instances, dry P-traps become paths for gases from the sewer moving up to your bathroom. Even stagnant water accumulated in drains for a long time can become contaminated and bacteria-ridden. Microbial contamination and decomposition of organic waste also leads to foul gas formation in washrooms.

And quite apart from the obvious assault on our noses that these odours present, they are also a health and safety hazard. These odours come from sewer gas which is a consequence of decomposing solid waste. Exposure to concentrated levels of sewer gas can cause fatal asphyxiation. All the gases that comprise sewer gas combine to replace oxygen in the bloodstream leading to respiratory ailments. Even mild exposure to sewer gases can cause nausea, eye irritation, asthma, irritation of the eyes and impaired muscle function. At slightly elevated levels, exposure to sewer gases can cause appetite loss and affect memory. And it is not just the gases. Organic waste in washrooms also harbours a whole lot of pathogens. Viruses, bacteria, fungi all thrive in that waste. And they can easily infect any person who comes in contact with them, leading to a whole host of illnesses.

Like public sanitation workers, people working in janitorial services too need protection and safe and hygienic working conditions to ensure they can safeguard our health too. And conventional washroom cleaning solutions are failing desperately in this regard.

One of the most common solutions cleaning companies resort to when it comes to odour control in public washrooms are air fresheners. And they don’t work at all. At best, air fresheners provide temporary relief by masking foul odours for a while. But they do nothing to treat the source of these foul odours and after a while – a very short while – these odours come back in full force, leading to even more air freshener being used. Apart from the fact this is wasteful expenditure, air fresheners are actually harmful for you. They contain a lot of harmful, even toxic, chemicals – phthalates, acetaldehyde, benzene, formaldehyde to name a few. These chemicals ensure that air fresheners are one of globally. Sustained exposure to air fresheners also leaves you susceptible to a whole host of illnesses, ranging from asthma and hypersensitivity to respiratory illnesses (obviously) and even diabetes and cancer.

And the chemical based solutions that are conventionally used to clean washroom floors and toilet bowls aren’t helping either. There is a reason those products come with labels warning you to keep them away from children and pets and labels warning you about their corrosive effect or how they are harmful for your eyes and your skin. Some of the common ingredients in these chemical-based cleaning solutions include phthalates, triclosans and triclocarbons, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), Benzalkonium chlorides, Hydrochloric acid, Sulphuric acid, Ammonia, Chlorine bleach, Perc, 2-Butoxyethanol, Phenols and QUATs. Each of these products can prove fatal on their own. When combined, their harmful effects on humans and animals and the environment is well-documented in research paper after research paper across the world.

The chemicals in these cleaning products don’t just affect health of the workers using them. They also linger behind, affecting the health of everyone using washrooms these chemicals ostensibly clean. And when they are washed down drains and flushed down toilets after use, these chemicals go down into the septic infrastructure, killing the natural microflora of the septic tanks. Not only does this lead to inefficient septic tanks that require more frequent cleaning and pumping out, an ineffective septic tank also increases the chances of sewage leeching out into soil and groundwater.

The solution to safe, hygienic washroom cleaning will not be found in a chemical lab. The solution can actually be found in nature. Using natural enzymes is the best way to solve all washroom odour issues permanently without causing adverse health issues or harming the environment.

Enzymatic cleaning solutions attack the root cause of all odour issues. They not only clean washrooms but also effectively degrade organic waste like urine deposits in drain pipes, neutralising the source of all bad odours. The natural enzymatic machinery also prevents the formation of foul gases like ammonia and H2S while degrading the waste naturally. And because these solutions do not contain any harsh chemicals, they do not disturb the septic system either, allowing microbes to deal with biodegradable matter, and even facilitating the process.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this post where we explain the science behind the natural cleaning magic. But you can also use the form below to contact us today if you want to get rid of all the hellish odours in your washrooms. We have solutions that just work.

Post by Rohan Shetty