Microorganisms often produce odorous waste products as they grow. Microbial waste is responsible for a variety of bad smells, ranging from the smell of sour milk to body odor on athletic clothing. 

The microorganisms responsible for bad odor vary by environment.  For instance, body odor is generated when bacteria of the genus Corynebacterium metabolize sweat.  Odor from dirty kitchen sponges is caused by a host of microbes originally from food or the sink, such as Proteus  or Staphylococcus.

Fortunately, antimicrobial agents do a fantastic job at preventing microorganisms from growing. When incorporated into consumer products they confer the great, reliable benefit of odor control.  For instance, silver ions or silane-quaternary compounds in textiles exert antimicrobial effects to prevent the formation of body odor and preservatives in food prevent the reek of spoilage.

The human nose is still the gold standard for detection and characterization of foul odors, so the best way to test a product’s ability to inhibit odor formation is using trained human panelists.  Antimicrobial Test Laboratories maintains a trained odor panel and has conducted several odor control studies.  Odor studies are great for marketing because consumers respond strongly to smell.  Also, odor control claims are less-regulated than other antimicrobial claims.  If your company is interested in an odor study, simply contact the laboratory.