Odor Removal


Odor comes from volatile compounds that evaporate and get carried, through the air, to our noses. The nose has sensors that send a signal, to the part of the brain called the “Olfactory” lobe. The Olfactory interprets the message based on several things, including past experience.

When something like new carpet or new car odor is sensed, a chemical or combination of chemicals have evaporated, releasing a gas called a "volatile organic compound".  This organic compound is carried, by the vapor in the air, and we "smell" it. When this part of the carpet or car interior, no longer “off gasses”, we no longer smell it.

Sometimes, this “off gassing”, of a new product, can be accelerated by tuning up the heat, in the area, which can increase the evaporation rate. (off gassing) Be sure to have air flow, to carry the gaseous vapors away or it could penetrate something else. “My drapes smell like new carpet!”


When carpet cleaners do odor removal, it usually, requires removing the source. Simply covering it up or absorbing it with a desiccant powder, such as baking soda in the fridge, will not work, permanently, unless the source, causing the odor, has been physically removed or has evaporated away. If the material that caused the odor is still there and is off gassing, it will return.

Clothing with soot from a fire must first be cleaned, usually by a “Restoration Dry Cleaner”, to remove the soot. They are then deodorized, with ozone gas, to remove the odor left behind by the soot.

Enzymes can kill the bacteria that cause odor, while a deodorizer, added to the enzyme product, does the actual odor removal.

Sometimes, removing all odor is not possible, such as cat urine in concrete. Odors that can't be removed may need to be sealed in. This can be overlooked on items that indirectly were contaminated, such as sheetrock.


The most difficult odor to eliminate, for carpet cleaners and fire restoration companies, can be “imaginary”. No-one but the customer can smell it.

The cabinet that was in the fire has been cleaned and deodorized, but the customer swears they can smell smoke. Get 10 people, off the street, and they will smell nothing.

What to do?

Sometimes, adding a fragrance that will replace the “odor between the ears”, can solve this problem. They, often, will smell the new odor and not the imaginary one they have been emotionally conditioned to smell. Make sure the new fragrance is something they like! Non descript odors are best. “Oh, that’s nice, what is it?”


Even if you don’t smell it, fix it.

It could be your “olfactory” doesn’t work so good, any more, and you can’t smell, what this person does or ….there’s no real odor.

Either way, remove what they are describing. If it's real, follow procedures for odor removal. If you, and other “good working” noses think it’s imaginary, work on that.

Treat all deodorization requests with respect.



              MAKE MONEY



                  Dennis Klager

              IICRC Instructor



Copyright 2012 by Dennis Klager