Keeping your facility odor free

by Zia Siddiqi
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What scents attract you? Maybe it’s the waft of a high-end perfume. Or the sweetness of fresh-cut grass on a spring day. Or the euphoric odors that pervade out of a good doughnut shop.

Pests aren’t so picky. Decaying organic matter probably isn’t on your list of pleasant odors, but to pests it smells like a four-course meal. These stenches signal the presence of food, and – just like that doughnut shop – the smells alone are enough for pests to want to check out the source.

Just about any scent will draw a pest’s attention. The more smells pests pick up around your facility, the more they will try to find a way in. This makes food processing facilities a big target. These facilities possess everything a pest needs to survive: food, water and shelter. That means when pests make it inside your facility, they tend to stay awhile.

Obviously, this is a problem. Pests and the diseases they carry have no place in any food processing facility. They can threaten the safety of your product as well as your reputation with customers. That’s why odor prevention and elimination are an essential part of a proactive pest management program.

But there is good news: there are several tactics you can use around your facility to make sure odors don’t become a problem. Many of these methods fall under the umbrella of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM turns pest control into an ongoing cycle of assessing pest threats, implementing a customized pest management plan and monitoring to help prevent pest activity before it occurs – all of which helps to reduce dependency on chemical treatments.

Odor control is a big part of IPM. Talk with your pest management professional about what you can do to cut back on odors at your facility using these IPM-inspired tactics.

Start with the source

Pests know where the odors in your facility are coming from, and they will make a beeline to the source. That’s why the first step of any odor defense is to identify the odor.

The most common odor hot spots spring up in waste areas. Organic material breaks down in trashcans, drains and dumpsters, and odorous bacteria results. If trash receptacles are not properly cleaned, lined and sealed, or if dumpsters aren’t regularly cleaned, the odors from the waste can linger and continue attracting pests long after the trash has been removed.

To keep odorous bacteria from building, empty, clean, line and seal all trash and recycling receptacles. With a good cleaning, odors won’t linger around after the trash is taken out. Dispose of trash daily and work with your waste management professional to schedule frequent waste pick-ups. As for dumpsters, keep them as far from your facility as possible and work with your waste management company to have them regularly rotated out for thorough cleaning.

Keep it clean

A proactive sanitation regiment is the best defense you can have against odors. It takes a full, consistent effort to keep your facility free of pest-attracting odors. Follow a sanitation schedule and pay special attention to areas that can be easy to miss and hard to reach – especially underneath and behind equipment where odor sources might hide.

Regularly remove drain lids to clean them of any debris that may build up. Drains can be a breeding ground for certain flies and other pests. Instead of chemical-filled cleaners, consider using an organic cleaner to break down any grime or bacteria that build up.

The more often and thoroughly key areas are cleaned, the less organic debris will be left to decompose.

Swap out the bad scents

Sanitizing and eliminating sources of odors are huge steps you can take to help keep your facility off of pests’ radars, but you can go even farther by neutralizing any lingering odors. There are a few ways you can do this:

Odor Neutralizers: These all-natural, nontoxic products can alter odor-producing molecules. Odor neutralizers eliminate odors right at the source rather than masking them temporarily. You can use these in both indoor and outdoor dumpsters and even in trash chutes within your walls.

Restroom Units: You’ve probably seen wall-mounted restroom air fresheners before. Many of these units automatically dispense odor-neutralizing fragrances that break down large, malodorous molecules into smaller, odor-neutral molecules. As a result, they provide efficient odor control in another odor (and pest) hot spot.

Air Fresheners: While masking agents such as air fresheners are not effective for long-term odor control, they can help to minimize unpleasant odors in the short term. Plug-in air fresheners with refillable cartridges can complement your ongoing sanitation and odor control efforts.

Remember, just like pest control, preventing foul odors that attract pests is a job for the whole staff. Make sure your staff understands the role they play in odor control, and encourage them to practice good sanitation in their respective areas of operation.

Work with your pest management professional to identify potential problem areas, and create a plan to maintain a facility free of unpleasant odors.

Dr. Zia Siddiqi is director of quality systems for Orkin. A board certified entomologist with more than 30 years in the industry, Dr. Siddiqi is an acknowledged leader in the field of pest management. For more information, e-mail or visit