No one likes the 3 “S” words: stale, stinky, or strong. Research proves that organization in the workplace improves functionality and productivity, but did you know that smells also contribute to our mood and work performance? Think about it, the average person spends 40 hours of their week at their workplace, that’s over 2,000 in a year!
All of our workplace situations vary; some of us work in manufacturing environments, some in retail, some in restaurants, some remote, and a great majority returning to the office. Depending on your environment, certain smells may be inevitable and/or part of the job, but if you’re part of the many returning to the office, working inside all day necessitates the need for a good smell!
If you’re ready to improve the smell of your office, understand that the deciding factor is up to you and those whom you share space with. Not two air fresheners are the same, read on for our breakdown.
Choosing the right one for your office:
Air Fresheners: The most popular air freshener to date, aerosol sprays embody scented liquid in a bottle, where, under pressure, delivers when it’s sprayed. When released, the scented air replaces any unwanted smells with a lighter and more pleasant scent. While generally considered safe for most users, aerosol sprays may release volatile organic compounds, which can irritate the lungs. Because of this, particularly in the time of COVID, some companies may ban aerosol sprays. Check with your employer first before spraying.
Odor Counteractants: Similar to spray air fresheners, spray odor counteractants help make your office smell clean, but in a more effective manner. Air fresheners only mask odors; whereas odor counteractants trap the odor molecules. Most of these products come scented, but non-scented options are available for those fragrant sensitive coworkers.
Who doesn’t love a good candle? Here at MCDA CCG, Inc., this form of air freshener is our favorite. A tropical scented candle in July, a pumpkin scented candle in October, or a snowy candle in December prove that these products can be enjoyed all year round. Also, it’s been suggested that -because it lifts your mood- it can improve your performance throughout the day. Of course, be careful any time you light something on fire — especially a candle. Also, check with your boss to make sure that it’s okay first.
With a growing rise in popularity, this air freshener is worth mentioning. When plants such as lavender, peppermint, or oranges are distilled, you extract their aromatic chemicals-creating essential oil.. You can combine them with carrier oils such as coconut or olive oil to create safe, pleasing scents.
While generally regarded as an air freshener, essential oils can also safely and effectively enhance mood. Some scents, such as lavender and jasmine, can reduce feelings of anxiety. Other scents, such as peppermint and rosemary, improve concentration and memory.
If your coworkers are sensitive to smells, bring a handkerchief and add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to it throughout the day. Keep it in your desk drawer until you need a pick-me-up.
Significantly similar to essential oils, scented oils are manufactured in labs rather than coming from natural materials. The oils can mimic scents you wouldn’t find in nature- such as clean laundry or a new car. Comparing these two forms of oils, you will find that scented oils come with a lower price tag, whereas essential oils last for longer periods of time. Scented oils don’t have the same health benefits as essential oils.
If you choose to freshen the air with an essential or scented oil, a device is needed to release the scent into the room. Essential oil diffusers are one way to do this. By breaking down oils into smaller molecules, diffusers then disperse them into the air through a fine, scented mist. Again, not all diffusers are created equal; nebulizing diffusers don’t require water or heat, making them ideal for moist or humid climates. Ultrasonic or humidifying diffusers use ultrasonic vibrations to diffuse a mixture of oil and water into the air- making them a great option for dry climates. (Because our team is headquartered in Orange County, California-Placentia to be exact- we prefer to use nebulizing diffusers as it can get fairly humid.)
If you commute to work, consider a plug-in outlet for your car. Depending on the scent you choose, it may help you stay alert on your commute to work or wind down on your drive home.
If you’re looking for a low maintenance solution, consider plug-in air fresheners. Using induction and heat-activated scent gels, plug-ins steadily release bursts of scent into the air. Because they deliver a continuous stream of scented air, the only required maintenance is replacing it when the gel scent runs out.
When choosing a plug-in air freshener, look for nontoxic options, as some contain phthalates, hazardous chemicals that can cause hormonal abnormalities and other health issues.
In addition to the products above, you can use simple, natural ingredients to help control odors. An inexpensive and simple option: add a tablespoon of white vinegar to a cup of water, put it in a reusable spray bottle, and spray it around the room. The unpleasant odors form a bond with the vinegar, which eliminates them. Also, try leaving a small bowl of vinegar in the corner of your office to trap obnoxious smells.
Passed down for many generations, you can find this next item in almost every kitchen. Baking soda bonds to smelly chemicals and turns those odors into less reactive salts. Place a bowl of baking soda in the staff refrigerator, bathroom, and other places that collect odors. For extra cleaning power, mix a little vinegar into the baking soda to form a paste to scrub down surfaces.
Finally, the easiest fix of all is to open a window! Fresh air quickly and naturally eliminates many airborne odors, especially those from food
Solid air fresheners
Another low-maintenance option, solid air fresheners trap and release scented air. Plastic usually encases the solid air freshener, so you can lift the lid a little or a lot to release the amount of fragrance you desire. As with aerosols and gels, some solid air fresheners are safer than others’ opt for those without phthalates.
Rather than masking bad odors with temporary scents, air purifiers work differently; using a fan to suck in air and run it through filters. These filters trap pollutants and particles, and the fan pushes clean air back out. The most effective air purifiers use a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, which can trap smaller particles than your traditional air purifier.
Some air purifiers use ionizers that charge air particles, causing them to bind to dust and other allergens and settle to surfaces rather than float in the air. In this case, stay away from models that produce ozone, as they harm our environment and can affect our lungs.
How about you, what’s your favorite type of air freshener? Comment below!
In some cases, there may be a stubborn case of smell you can’t avoid. For instance, your co-worker may be consistently breaking the biggest office rule: microwaving seafood lunch in the microwave! To most effectively handle situations like this, it may be worth checking out this post.