Chapter 1: Odor and the Science of Olfaction
Chapter 2: Exploration of the Sources of Odor
Chapter 3: The Interrelationship Between Microorganisms and Odor
Chapter 4: Effective Odor Detection Techniques
Chapter 5: Process of Deodorization
Chapter 6: Process of Oxidation
Chapter 7: Process of Enzymatic Action
Chapter 8: Process of Chemical Deodorization
Chapter 9: Process of Sealing
Chapter 10: Deodorization Equipment and Supplies
Chapter 11: Remediating Protein and Chemical Odors
Chapter 12: Death Scene Restoration

Enzymes are classified as macromolecular biological catalysts. This is a scientific term that means enzymes are capable of speeding up or accelerating chemical reactions.

There exists a specific field of study involving enzymes. This area of research is known as enzymology. Through this research, a determination has been made that enzymes are capable of catalyzing more than 5,000 different types of biochemical reactions.

Enzymes have been incorporated into a number of household products. These include meat tenderizers and washing products. Enzymes were added to washing products, including laundry detergent, as a means of removing stains. Enzymes in cleaning products are designed to attack or break apart proteins, amylase starch, and lipase grease.

Enzymes have also been found effective at eliminating certain types of foul odors. Indeed, enzymatic odor remediators are available both in commercial and consumer derivations. Enzymes have been found effective to tackle protein-based odors like those originating from urine, feces, alkaline salts, vomit, milk, blood, and other bodily fluids. Enzymatic cleaners are utilized by professional odor remediators.

Enzymes a Pre-Treatment and Odor Eliminator

Oftentimes, enzyme remediators are utilized to both aid and eliminate a substance contaminating an item as well as to address an associated foul odor. With this in mind, an enzyme product is used to pretreat a contaminated item or area. An enzymatic pretreatment is applied to the contaminated item or area via a liquid or powder.

The enzyme product will bear label directions. Once the enzymatic solution is applied, it typically is allowed to sit for a period of time. After that, it is “agitated” (think to scrub) to get it more fully worked into the affected item or area.

Once this is accomplished, the planned cleaning protocol is undertaken, dictated by whatever type of material is being remediated.

Enzymes as an Odor Eliminator

If the primary purpose of an enzymatic cleaner is to eliminate odor, the same application and agitation procedure is followed. Oftentimes, this process will need to be undertaken twice if a particularly troublesome and pervasive odor is in need of remediation.

Dog and cat urine odor are the most commonplace types of odors for which enzymatic cleaner is utilized. An enzymatic cleaner is effective with these types of odors because they are protein-based. Enzymes digest the organic material that is contained in dog and cat urine, a process that eliminates any associated foul odor.

If the odor is particularly profound, a liquid derivation of an enzymatic product is preferred. With that said, the sprayer should be abandoned. Rather, the sprayer top should be removed and the contaminated area should be saturated with the enzymatic product. The enzymatic cleaner should be allowed to soak for at least 30 minutes. In an arid climate, covering the treated item or area with a damp cotton towel is recommended to ensure that a high level of moisture is maintained throughout the process. Plastic is not recommended because it can prevent the release of foul odors, like ammonia. If ammonia is trapped in this manner, its presence will slow down the speed of the enzymatic digestion. Enzymatic digestion is discussed in greater detail in a moment.

You also need to bear in mind that if the affected area dries out prematurely, the processes cease. In other words, the offending substance and associated foul odor will not be fully remediated. The enzymatic cleaning process will need to be restarted from the beginning.

Once the soaking process has run its course, a copious amount of fresh water should be applied to the affected item or area. The best was to eliminate the water poured onto the affected area is to utilize what is known as a spotting claw. A spotting claw is a compression tool device that aids in the extraction of water and enzyme cleaner from an affected area.

An additional step might be necessary if an odor proves particularly stubborn and intense. When the soaking and extraction process has run its course, additional treatment with the enzymatic cleaner can be used. In this instance, it is left on the affected item or area and allowed to dry.

Understanding Enzymatic Digestion

At the heart of the enzymatic odor remediation process is what is known as “enzymatic digestion.” In some cases, enzymatic digestion is called biological digestion. 

In simple terms, the enzymes operate to break down organic waste like pet urine. When this occurs, the waste is broken down into smaller units that represent more manageable food for bacteria to consume and digest. The net effect is that enzymes speed up the process of eliminating organic waste, and oftentimes dramatically so. Once the organic waste is fully digested, the associated odor may be eliminated or at least significantly reduced.

You do need to bear in mind that the enzymatic cleaning process alone may not be enough to fully remediate a particularly pervasive, challenging odor. In other words, enzymatic cleaning can be part of a more comprehensive remediation endeavor that incorporates another strategy as well.

Armed with this overview, you have a basic understanding of how enzymatic cleaning can be of assistance to you if you face a situation involving a certain type of malodorous smell in your residence. There is one final overall category of foul odor remediation. This process involves certain chemicals utilized to deodorize an item or space in your residence.

Next: Chapter 8: Process of Chemical Deodorization


Emily Kil

Co-Owner of Eco Bear Biohazard Cleaning Company

Together with her husband, Emily Kil is co-owner of Eco Bear, a leading biohazard remediation company in Southern California. An experienced entrepreneur, Emily assisted in founding Eco Bear as a means of combining her business experience with her desire to provide assistance to people facing challenging circumstances. Emily regularly writes about her first-hand experiences providing services like biohazard cleanup, suicide cleanup, crime scene cleanup, unattended death cleanup, and other types of difficult remediations in homes and businesses.