The Invisible Surface: Air Care

by Mary Colvin

We tend to think of cleaning in terms of tasks performed on surfaces, whether it is dishes and counters in the kitchen, desks and telephones in an office or sinks and toilets in a bathroom. But we tend to forget that there is one more area that needs special treatment – the air.

After cleaning all the surfaces in a room, refreshing the air can add that “last finishing touch” to the space. And the way a room smells is critical because smell is the first sense that we use when we enter a space to make a judgment on whether or not it is “clean.” A room can be sparkling and beautiful, but if it smells funny, then no one will want to use it. And they’ll feel that way within 10 seconds.

One quick caveat: there’s a difference between “purifying” and “freshening” the air. This article will focus on freshening. Purifying typically refers to particulate and volatile organic compound (VOC) removal via high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) devices like air purifiers.

Ironically, air freshening begins with surfaces. It may seem like a paradox, but most odors in the air start out as odors on surfaces, especially fabric surfaces. Odors can stick to fabrics, and then, over time, are rereleased back into the air. Smoke and cooking odors are a great example of this.

The best way to get at these odors is to remove them from surfaces with a fabric refresher that is able to capture the odors and keep them out of the air. 

Then you can move on to address odors lingering in the air. Some products simply cover up odors with a giant blast of perfume. That will work temporarily, but you’ll end up with a room that now smells like perfume and fish, instead of just fish.

At P&G Professional, we believe a better approach is to use aerosols with light, fresh scents and ingredients that can capture or remove odors from the air. These products deal with the odors and keep the smell fresh and clean, rather than overpowering. Febreze® is an excellent example of an air freshener that can actually lock away odors rather than simply mask them, leaving behind only a light, pleasant scent.

The nose quickly gets used to the smell of a room, so to maintain a great scent you may also want to consider air fresheners with alternating scents. These change up the scent every few minutes so that you always notice a nice fresh smell. Again, make sure the scents are light. If they’re too heavy, it will overpower the room.

Follow these principles and you can make your “invisible surface” as fresh and inviting as all of the other surfaces you work so hard on!

About Mary Colvin
Mary Colvin is a Principal Researcher and a 28-year veteran at Procter & Gamble, with 16 of those years working on the Procter & Gamble Professional business. She lends her expertise and consumer understanding in developing products to better meet the needs of customers in industries such as janitorial/sanitation, health care, food service and hospitality. Mary is an alumna of University of Cincinnati, College of Engineering & Applied Science.