Ways to Neutralize Airborne Odors

Our sense of smell can help us to recognize edible (or inedible) food, enjoy blooming flowers, and even recognize danger (gas leaks, fire, mold, etc.). Unfortunately, our noses are also susceptible to airborne odors of a foul nature.

When the trash is full of food waste, your dog relieves himself on the carpet, your shoes have gotten old and stinky, or the neighboring apartment houses a smoker, you’re going to know, and chances are you won’t be too happy about the unwanted assault on your sniffer. If you work in an auto shop, a kitchen, or other commercial or industrial facilities, you might also have to deal with olfactory affronts.

While there are plenty of products meant to mask unpleasant odors, you don’t necessarily want to mix the smell of food waste with flowers or smoke with fresh pine. The only real way to eliminate offending smells is to neutralize them.

Along these lines, there are several steps you might take, whether you’re trying to eliminate odors in your home, your office, or a commercial or industrial operation like a food processing plant or a sewage water treatment facility. Here are a few strategies you could try when it comes to neutralizing airborne odors.

Eliminate the Source of the Odor

Before you bother trying to neutralize an offensive odor, it’s best to eliminate whatever is causing it. In the home this is usually simple enough. All you have to do is take out the trash, clean up pet waste, or smoke outdoors.

If you’re working in food production or wastewater treatment, for example, it’s not quite so simple. In such instances, the source of the odor has to do with your livelihood and cannot necessarily be eliminated.

Clean and Deodorize

Even if the source of the odor cannot be eliminated, efforts can still be made to control it. Frequent cleaning and deodorizing can help to reduce odor-causing agents and thus minimize the odor. From there you can begin to try different options for neutralizing remaining odor.


Proper ventilation is needed to control air quality in any enclosed structure, including private homes and commercial and industrial buildings. This is part of a larger HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system that cycles air throughout a structure, providing both temperature control and fresh, breathable air.

HVAC systems work on a cycle that introduces new air while pulling out the old. However, the cyclical nature of the system means that some of the air that gets pulled out cycles back in, perpetuating airborne odors in living and working spaces.

The good news is that these systems generally feature one or more filters, and you can find products designed to grab and lock all manner of particulates, including those that cause foul odors. HEPA filters are a great option as they are designed to pull the finest particulates from the air, including many pollutants and even some bacteria.

Activated carbon filters are another option, and they are ideal for chemical (and other) odors because they are designed to absorb airborne pollutants. Finding the right filters for your home or business may be a matter of trial and error or it may be evident by the type of odors you’re dealing with.

Likely a private home won’t need the same level of air filtration as a business that relies on a water treatment system, for example. However, your HVAC professional can probably help you to find the best solution.

Ozone Machine

Certain airborne odors may linger despite your best efforts to control them. Smoke (from either smoking or fire damage, for example) is one such offender. The use of ozone (O3) treatments is an option to explore.

This treatment involves the use of specialized equipment that circulates ozone throughout affected areas, oxidizing fumes that are clinging to surfaces and circulating through the ventilation system. Whether previous homeowners were smokers, your commercial kitchen suffered a grease fire, or you own a bar or restaurant that allows smoking, ozone could neutralize lingering odors.

Industrial Solutions

Whether you work in a chemical warehouse, a food processing facility, or industrial water treatment, you may require more than the average home or business when it comes to neutralizing odors. This is where fogging and misting systems come into play.

Specialized mixtures of odor-neutralizing agents can be sprayed throughout facilities in order to attack and eliminate strong and lingering odors associated with operations. This can not only make the air safer to breathe, but also a lot more pleasant.

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