<iframe src="https://www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-TGK4K6" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden">
  • Home
  • The power of smell
June 2019

The power of smell

Written by Peta Florus
Workplace Hygiene

Our sense of smell is so powerful that it can trigger memories and deep-seated emotions that we associate with our childhood, or with milestones and events in our lives both good and bad.  

If you ever mention selling your home, the most common thing people advise you to do is to create a welcoming environment by baking bread or biscuits (fragrancing with vanilla). Bad smells or odours, on the other hand, can trigger negative perceptions regarding cleanliness and hygiene.

Property 24 advises that ‘Unpleasant or strong odours can easily discourage the keenest of buyers. A nifty trick is to microwave a small dish of vanilla twenty minutes before show time and place it in a strategic - but out of sight - place.’

Similarly, when using a public bathroom our brain automatically associates a clean smelling area as being hygienically clean and welcoming, while bad smells provoke the opposite reaction. In a previous blog post my colleague shared some information about how public bathrooms do not contain any more germs than your toilet at home.

Initial Hygiene carried out further research across various countries and interviewed the general public to find out what people’s perception of clean air is, and how smells in bathrooms and public spaces affected their impressions of what they perceived to be clean.

These are some of the results:

  • General cleanliness is the first thing people noticed overall. 
  • 56% of people in Italy noticed cleanliness first.Screenshot 2019-06-10 at 12.10.43 PM
  • 46% of people in the UK noticed smell first.
  • 9 out of 10 people overall have noticed unpleasant odours in public bathrooms.
  • 89% of Malaysians would believe the bathroom was unhygienic if the smell was unpleasant, while 91% assumed the air contained bacteria
  • 70% of Malaysians would assume the bathroom was clean if the smell was pleasant.
  • 4 out of 10 French people have felt fearful of getting sick when encountering a bad smell
  • 39% of Australians interviewed who have encountered unpleasant smells, would not go back to that place again.

Overall, 1 in 4 people surveyed have refused to use a public bathroom in a shopping mall because of the smell, and two thirds would probably speed up their visit.

Screenshot 2019-06-10 at 12.13.06 PMUndoubtedly, bad smells create a strong and lasting impression of your business and will have an impact on consumer behaviour. In our survey, 7 out of 10 consumers would assume a bathroom was clean based on its smell.

In the office environment, 77% of people thought that the entire office space should be pleasant smelling and not just the bathrooms, while 35% overall have felt embarrassed when showing visitors to their workplace bathrooms. Screenshot 2019-06-10 at 12.17.00 PM

At Initial, we provide various bathroom services and are experts in our field. Trust us to find the source of malodour and to eliminate the bad bacteria

which cause odours by using odour neutralising capabilities, leaving bathrooms bacteria-free, pleasantly fragranced and hygienically clean air. There really is no excuse for a smelly bathroom.

Find out more about the services Initial can provide by visiting our website www.initial.co.za or contacting us.

Contact the Initial team to discuss your hygiene requirements

Peta Florus

Peta Florus

Peta has been part of Rentokil Initial family for a number of years with research and analysis being her core functions. She enjoys writing the occasional blogs for the pest and hygiene businesses sharing information and expertise on our specialist services. In her private time and being a mom of two teenagers, walks on the beach is the next best thing to spending quality family time.

Ready to talk to us? Fill in this quick form to get in touch:


The Ultimate Guide to Safe Sanitary Waste Disposal from the experts in hygiene, Initial Hygiene South Africa

Download our Ultimate Guide to Safe Sanitary Waste Disposal

Ensure that your organisation meets the legal requirements for the disposal of sanitary waste by learning what constitutes sanitary waste and how you should dispose of it, in this comprehensive guide on the subject.
Download Guide

We're always working to offer you useful insights, answer our quick question and help us bring you more of the content you want: