Scientists have developed a novel way to manage unpleasant odours at home.
The new method does not mask odours like today's room fresheners, but eliminates them at the source.
Their research found that a deodorant made from nanoparticles - hundreds of times smaller than peach fuzz - eliminates odours up to twice as effectively as today's gold standard.
Brij Moudgil and colleagues note that consumers use a wide range of materials to battle undesirable odours in clothing, on pets, in rooms, and elsewhere.
Most common household air fresheners, for instance, mask odours with pleasing fragrances but do not eliminate the odours from the environment. People also apply deodourizing substances that absorb smells.
These materials include activated carbon and baking soda. However, these substances tend to have only a weak ability to absorb the chemicals responsible for the odour.
The scientists describe development of a new material consisting of nanoparticles of silica (the main ingredient in beach sand) - each 1/50,000th the width of a human hair - coated with copper.
That metal has well-established antibacterial and anti-odour properties, and the nanoparticles gave copper a greater surface area to exert its effects.
Tests of the particles against ethyl mercaptan, the stuff that gives natural gas its unpleasant odour, showed that nanoparticles were up to twice as effective as the gold standard - activated carbon - at removing the material's foul-smelling odour.
In addition to fighting odours, the particles also show promise for removing sulfur contaminants found in crude oil and for fighting harmful bacteria, they add.
A report on these next-generation odour-fighters appears in ACS' Langmuir, a bi-weekly journal.