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Old 09-07-2016, 07:08 PM   #1
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Name: Patricia
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Remedy for smelly tow vehicle

Not exactly trailer related but my "new to me" tow vehicle has a very strong smell of some kind of cleaner or air freshener. I am thrilled to have found a great tow vehicle that meets my needs, a 2009 Toyota Venza with low mileage and factory towing adaptations.
When I tested it, it had one of those little air fresheners. I assumed that the smell would go away once it was removed but it has been 3 weeks and it seems stronger than ever. I am thinking that it may actually be something like Febreeze or a spray cleaner. So far I have washed every surface with a vinegar solution, have put baking soda in the car, have tried a substance that is supposed to remove odours and have left the windows open for 4 days. Any suggestions?
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Old 09-07-2016, 07:29 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Patricia D. View Post
...but my "new to me" tow vehicle has a very strong smell of some kind..
I would contact Jerry.. he might have some ideas

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Old 09-07-2016, 07:41 PM   #3
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Kanberra Gel - Tea Tree Oil Airborne
Could very well be your answer.

Contact the person who you bought the vehicle from to find out what the smell is. Did someone die in the vehicle?
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Old 09-07-2016, 09:07 PM   #4
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Thanks for the laugh, Gordon. As soon as I saw his face, I remembered the whole episode.
Darwin, I am allergic to scents- get migraines and sinus issues- so for me it does not have to be anything that dramatic to be a real nuisance. it is definitely some "cleaning" product.
I have some tea tree oil. Do you think putting some in hot water and wiping things down with it would work? Or just a bowl of it in the car?
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Old 09-08-2016, 12:57 AM   #5
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Air cleaner

Ozone is a great air purifier. There are ozonators that put out concentrated ozone, small portable units, etc. Read the directions closely, at a certain concentration you should not be in the same room. I find it works best if you've got a window or two open while the unit is running. You can find LOTS of info through Google. Good luck.
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Old 09-08-2016, 05:24 AM   #6
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Have you looked under the seats? It's possible the past owner shoved clothes washing softener sheets up under one of the seats. It's a cheap way to mask dog, smoker or gym shoe odors. Look under the dash too.
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Old 09-08-2016, 05:36 AM   #7
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Had a very bad odour in a previously owned car every time the heater in winter or or the air conditioner in summer were used. Replacing the air filters has solved the problem nicely.


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Old 09-08-2016, 05:44 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Patricia D. View Post
Thanks for the laugh, Gordon. As soon as I saw his face, I remembered the whole episode. ..
Sometimes you have to laugh...

But I guess if it were me, I would in fact do as Jerry did and seek out a professional. Maybe call local car dealers and see who they use and what they recommend. Or call car detailing companies and see what they say. If it's an episode on the Jerry Seinfeld show then you can't be the first and no doubt the pros have dealt with the problem before.
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Old 09-08-2016, 07:33 AM   #9
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Hi: Patricia D... Bought a chain smokers car once. Apart from the ashburns to the seats I spritzed white vinegar into the air ducts. Smell eliminated eventually.
Alf S. North shore of Lake Erie
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Old 09-08-2016, 07:36 AM   #10
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You may want to replace the cabin air filter. Makes a difference on air quality in my vehicles.
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Old 09-08-2016, 07:54 AM   #11
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I just put the Kanberra Gel - Tea Tree Oil Airborne I. A co tai ear and let it work. I use it year around to keep mold from growing also.
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Old 09-08-2016, 07:57 AM   #12
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Thanks for all your comments. I am going to look in all the nooks and crannies today and try a few more home remedies.
I had contacted a company about detailing. It would cost over 200.00 and require the car to be there 2 days. On Amazon there is an ozone machine for 115.00 so I may go for that. I understand that these machines require very careful use.
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Old 09-08-2016, 08:36 AM   #13
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I would try the less expensive solutions B 4 investing in a Ozone machine.

Detailing the inside will require the use of other chemicals so if you are Scensitive, that many add to your problems.
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Old 09-08-2016, 09:27 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Patricia D. View Post
Thanks for all your comments. I am going to look in all the nooks and crannies today and try a few more home remedies.
I had contacted a company about detailing. It would cost over 200.00 and require the car to be there 2 days. On Amazon there is an ozone machine for 115.00 so I may go for that. I understand that these machines require very careful use.
I picked up an Ozone Generator off Amazon from Forever Ozone for about $100 a couple years ago. Great investment. I just bought a 2007 4Runner with only 65K and the only issue was it was owned by heavy smoker. Between changing cabin air filter and running ozone, almost gone now. I like the idea of spritzing air ducts with vinegar...I have just run the ozone generator with car running to pull through as much as possible on recirculate.

I also use every so often at home just to freshen up after being closed up for winter. Just run in front of a large return duct for a bit. Also will run in basement in conjunction with dehumidifier if it gets a bit musty.

But as one other commented, need to be careful with high concentrations as you don't want to oxidize your lung tissue...
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Old 09-08-2016, 09:28 AM   #15
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same problem..bought a new ozone machine from amazon. returned it after a week because no change in the smell. I first threw out anything that can absorb and hold an odor. All carpet, curtains, wood utensils, rugs, blankets, paper products, plates napkins towels out in the trash. I opened the cushions and threw out the padding and hand washed the naugahyde covers twice and dried in the sun. I placed several bowls of white vinegar, cat litter and baking soda through my 12 foot camper. I left windows and doors open 24/7 with a rotating fan. Finally after about two weeks the mildew smell I had started diminishing. Did I mention I washed the walls? It is possible to get a smell out but it can be a nightmare. I've purchased several used campers since and when I step into a camper for the first time if it has any smell at all I walk away.
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Old 09-08-2016, 09:48 AM   #16
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Ozone can be used to purify water by "inactivating" microorganisms. That may or may not help.

Febreze traps and binds hydrocarbon molecules which effectively reduces the perceived odor. It seems that your Febreze and the offending molecules ultimately end up laying whereever you sprayed it but is a reasonably economical and popular product.

Granulated activated carbon (GAC) can actually trap organic molecules. GAC has a phenomenal amount of surface area at a microscopic level which lends to its ability to trap molecules. It is used in municipal water treatment plants to remove trace amounts of volatile organic chemicals such as dry cleaning solvents from contaminated water supplies.

I looked into GAC when we first bought our Casita as it has some vinyl odors. In my research I quickly learned that GAC is used to filter the ventilation of illegal grow rooms. They are fairly expensive (~$100+) setups, so I didn't pursue it.

There are also articles online concerning how to build a canister filter to be used with a fan. Here's some commercially marketed setups:

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...+carbon+filter

I have read (maybe on this forum) that placing a bag of charcoal in the trailer can serve the same purpose. That sort of makes sense to me, but I haven't looked into it deeply. Here's a page from a GAC supplier.

Activated Carbon & Charcoal Frequently Asked Questions | FAQ Page

I ultimately ended up just airing our trailer out every time the weather was nice, probably over 60 days, and that helped quite a bit.

Good luck Patricia.
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Old 09-08-2016, 10:04 AM   #17
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You might want to try a product called "smells-be-gone".
A friend of mine left a watermelon in his camper and forgot about it for several months (camper parked and not used). When he opened the door the rotting watermelon odor was overwhelming. He used this product and it was successful.
This is anecdotal, so I don't have first hand experience.
Good luck !
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Old 09-08-2016, 11:04 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Patricia D. View Post
...It would cost over 200.00 and require the car to be there 2 days. On Amazon there is an ozone machine for 115.00 so I may go for that. I understand that these machines require very careful use.
I might not go the over $200 professional route as my first option but if other things don't work I would consider that price reasonable if it solved the problem. I would not waste my time with anything that just covered up the odor. For example, when the problem is pet urine, I use Nature's Miracle, an enzyme that breaks down the molecules that are causing the odor.

By the way, the last few replies refereed to eliminating odors in campers and not vehicles. While the advice might still apply, the OP's problem is not in a camper - it is in the tow vehicle.
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