Author Topic: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations  (Read 2703 times)

FrugalFisherman10

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My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« on: December 10, 2017, 11:58:18 AM »
My truck smells bad whenever it rains / is wet outside or whenever water is left in it ( like if my jacket is wet and it in turn makes my seat wet.)

I need to figure out how to get this smell out. It's mildew I'm sure.

Sure my car is old, and the seats are cloth, but it shouldn't smell and it keeps persisting. If anyone has any expertise in this department let me know. It seems there are two things going on: 1) I need to absorb the smell out of the 'air' so to speak. And 2) I need to suck / kill (?) the smell out of the seats.

 It's like the smell is always there, but it gets reactivated whenever there's moisture in the air. I'm considering renting one of those steam cleaners for upholstery. Would that be recommended?

ElleFiji

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2017, 12:03:50 PM »
Bags of charcoal would be a good start. And some kind of mildew killing potion?

tralfamadorian

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2017, 12:10:01 PM »

Ms.BecomingFI

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2017, 12:11:26 PM »
My first car smelled very bad. And I lived in Fl, so I hear you on the rain/mildew smell!  What has worked for me...
Sprinkle baking soda everywhere.  Let it sit for a least a day after it is completely dry.  Vacuum up.
Just make sure you have a really good vacuum because the stuff is very fine.  But it's also super cheap and works!  Key is the car really has to dry.  Baking soda will take care of the smell.  Good luck!

sparkytheop

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2017, 12:55:24 PM »
I would try the baking soda trick, and then also try something like this: https://www.biocidesystems.com/auto-shocker-clo2-odor-eliminator-quick-release  I know the house version works well at getting pet and cigarette odors out of houses (friend's experiences).


Zola.

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2017, 03:30:56 PM »
I threw baking soda in my car and it was a disaster in the boot/trunk, it took A LOT of scrubbing to get the soda stains out, and they didnt completely go.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2017, 02:33:39 AM by Zola. »

FrugalFisherman10

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2017, 11:24:11 AM »
I would try the baking soda trick, and then also try something like this: https://www.biocidesystems.com/auto-shocker-clo2-odor-eliminator-quick-release  I know the house version works well at getting pet and cigarette odors out of houses (friend's experiences).
Have you used this personally yourself? Looks great!
My only concern is that the website is riddled with typos and just kinda gives me the feeling their 'guarantee' of safety isn't that well substantiated.

to the other posters, I've done the baking powder thing a bunch of times, but the smell just comes back. Good suggestion though and I will continue to do so as a maintenance thing. Baking Powder seems to be a temporary solution.


nexus

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2017, 02:20:45 PM »
Get some sort of carpet cleaner/upholstery shampooer to lift all the dirt and bacteria out of the seat.

If you want to do the 'super cheap and maybe just test it a little before I buy/rent something,' do the following:
1. Get an iron and a damp washcloth or towel (or shirt. something you don't mind ruining).
2. Place damp washcloth on an affected area (like where there's a stain, for example)
3. Lay iron on wet washcloth and let sit for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
The heat from the iron will pull the moisture and dirt from the seat into the cloth/towel.
4. Set iron aside somewhere safe
5. Lift washcloth from surface and marvel at the black, icky crap that was lifted from the seat.

I used to have to do this on carpets in nursing homes. Old folks would cruise around with their cranberry juice, spill it, and here I come with a little carpet cleaning chemical*, damp scrap towel, and iron to pull the stain up/out.

Anyway, if this little test works then go rent a machine because it is far more efficient and you're less likely to burn yourself :p

*You don't necessarily need a chemical to start with. If you find this works, go out and rent a carpet cleaner with the nozzle attachment (Think Blissel Brand. You can rent for $30/day from Orchard or Ace, probably Home Depot). If you use a chemical with the ironing method, you'll apply, agitate with a brush, apply towel, iron, wait, remove and review. Heck, your 'chemical' could probably be baking soda, a little water, and scrubbing an area with a toothbrush. Again, super tedious. Go get the machine w/nifty sucking nozzle and go crazy.

Hope this helps!
« Last Edit: December 11, 2017, 02:26:05 PM by nexus »

dycker1978

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2017, 02:47:25 PM »
I would try the baking soda trick, and then also try something like this: https://www.biocidesystems.com/auto-shocker-clo2-odor-eliminator-quick-release  I know the house version works well at getting pet and cigarette odors out of houses (friend's experiences).
Have you used this personally yourself? Looks great!
My only concern is that the website is riddled with typos and just kinda gives me the feeling their 'guarantee' of safety isn't that well substantiated.

to the other posters, I've done the baking powder thing a bunch of times, but the smell just comes back. Good suggestion though and I will continue to do so as a maintenance thing. Baking Powder seems to be a temporary solution.

Baking soda and Baking powder are two very different things.  Are you using soda?

sparkytheop

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2017, 10:31:37 PM »
I would try the baking soda trick, and then also try something like this: https://www.biocidesystems.com/auto-shocker-clo2-odor-eliminator-quick-release  I know the house version works well at getting pet and cigarette odors out of houses (friend's experiences).
Have you used this personally yourself? Looks great!
My only concern is that the website is riddled with typos and just kinda gives me the feeling their 'guarantee' of safety isn't that well substantiated.

to the other posters, I've done the baking powder thing a bunch of times, but the smell just comes back. Good suggestion though and I will continue to do so as a maintenance thing. Baking Powder seems to be a temporary solution.

I've used the house version on a room before.  Didn't completely eliminate the odor, but cut it way, way down.  I think a second treatment might eliminate it, but haven't tried yet.  I don't know how many rounds the friend with the cigarette odor did (they were going to move into an apartment that had been lived in by a chain smoker), but she said it was the only thing that finally got rid of the smell (after changing filters, wiping down walls, etc).

former player

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2017, 04:37:35 AM »
I would try the baking soda trick, and then also try something like this: https://www.biocidesystems.com/auto-shocker-clo2-odor-eliminator-quick-release  I know the house version works well at getting pet and cigarette odors out of houses (friend's experiences).
Have you used this personally yourself? Looks great!
My only concern is that the website is riddled with typos and just kinda gives me the feeling their 'guarantee' of safety isn't that well substantiated.

to the other posters, I've done the baking powder thing a bunch of times, but the smell just comes back. Good suggestion though and I will continue to do so as a maintenance thing. Baking Powder seems to be a temporary solution.

Baking soda and Baking powder are two very different things.  Are you using soda?

Baking powder is also different from what you want for smell removal, which is bicarbonate of soda.

GreenSheep

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2017, 06:11:25 AM »
Baking soda = bicarbonate of soda. They're just two different phrases for the same thing.

Baking powder = baking soda + cream of tartar + cornstarch or other starch

I've never tried baking powder for this sort of thing, but my guess is that it might work some, but not as well as straight baking soda. I've used baking soda successfully to remove smells. (It also makes a good air freshener if you add a bit of essential oil or fragrance oil to it and just let it sit around in a little bowl.)

SavinMaven

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2017, 06:50:40 AM »
When younger one of our kids threw up in my car. we tried everything, and then finally took it to a detailer because I couldn't stand it anymore - they used an ozone machine, and the smell was completely gone! Worth every penny. My advice is to go straight to the ozone treatment, and avoid spending time, money, and energy on all the preamble.

MightyAl

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2017, 06:58:59 AM »
It is a truck so pulling everything out should be easy.  Pull out the seats and the carpet.  Shampoo the carpet outside of the truck so you can get all of it scrubbed good.  Pull the seat covers and wash them in the sink and let dry.  Check the seat foam and make sure there is nothing nasty in it.  Scrub the bare surfaces inside the truck on the floor.  Change your cabin filter.

It will be at least an afternoon of work but should alleviate the issue.  At least this is what I have found to fix the stinky car problem.

yodella

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2017, 07:10:50 AM »
I also had this problem for a long time and couldn't figure it out. As it turns out I had a small leak in the sunroof, and whenever it would rain water would trickle into the roof, run down the channels of the door, and drip slowly onto the side of the passenger floor, where it would soak the floor beneath the mat (or the mat as well, depending on how heavy the rain was).

After awhile it would dry out and the smell would go away (this happened more quickly in summer when the windows were down a lot). This is why it seemed like the smell "reactivated" every time it rained - because it did! Getting the leak fixed fixed the problem, and the smell has completely gone away. Good luck!

Rural

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2017, 08:44:22 AM »
I successfully got out cat pee smell with 2-3 applications of straight white vinegar from a spray bottle to all of the upholstery. The vinegar smell is as unpleasant as you might imagine, but it fades away completely not too long after it dries.

Glenstache

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2017, 08:47:11 AM »
Also check that your HVAC system is draining properly, and that the cabin air filter is in place. I had a similar issue with a truck where plant debris had accumulated in the air box just before the heating coils and formed a nice mulching system. I cleaned that out, sprayed Lysol on the heating element and made sure the drain line ran clear. The lysol smell faded after a day or two and the issue was significantly improved. If this is the issue, you may also want to run just plain air for a few minutes at the end of your drive (no front defroster or A/C) to dry out that portion of the system. A/C  and defroster produce condensation that can accumulate in the air box as well depending on the design of your car.

Yodella's post on leaks is a good one too.

GuitarStv

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2017, 08:51:28 AM »
Can you just park the car in really hot sun for a few hours during the next summer?  It sounds like a bacterial/fungal thing that you're smelling . . . and some extreme parking lot heat for a couple days might just burn it all away/kill it off.  If you can put up with it for that long.  :P

CptCool

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2017, 11:40:20 AM »
Chiming in with the ozone treatment as well. Ozone kills biological organisms (fungus, bacteria), along with the smell. I forgot chicken and milk in the car for about 10 days after grocery shopping (don't use the car much). 2 hours of ozone running & that nasty smell disappeared.

You can build one yourself for $10 or buy it online for ~$40-100. Highly recommended

ROF Expat

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2017, 12:58:40 PM »
+1 on the ozone generator. 

I bought two of them about fourteen years ago when I lived on my boat.  I used them to control bilge and holding tank odors and they were incredibly effective.  I no longer live on my boat, but they still come in handy for occasional car or household odor problems. 

Dr.Jeckyl

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2017, 12:58:59 PM »
I had a mouse crawl inside my wife's car and die in the summer. We ended up driving my Jeep with no AC most of the summer. I pulled out the seats, carpet, pulled out the carpet, pulled apart the dash and still couldn't find the little carcass. My FIL gave me some Ozium and after dousing the HVAC vents and the rest of the car with it the smell finally went away.

TrMama

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #21 on: December 12, 2017, 01:12:33 PM »
My local Home Depot rents carpet shampooers for $25/4hrs. Simply shampooing every fabric surface worked great when I bought a used car that stank to high heaven of the previous owner's dog.

Try this first to remove whatever gunk is causing the smell before you mess with chemical treatments.

CheapskateWife

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #22 on: December 12, 2017, 01:28:20 PM »
When I deal with car stank...I have successfully removed smell and old mildew with a combination of equal parts white vinegar and ammonia in lieu of soap.  This also works in front load clothes washers with mildew problems.

FrugalFisherman10

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #23 on: December 12, 2017, 08:16:20 PM »

Baking soda and Baking powder are two very different things.  Are you using soda?
apologies, i meant baking soda. That's what i've used in the passed.

FrugalFisherman10

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #24 on: December 12, 2017, 08:18:11 PM »
I also had this problem for a long time and couldn't figure it out. As it turns out I had a small leak in the sunroof, and whenever it would rain water would trickle into the roof, run down the channels of the door, and drip slowly onto the side of the passenger floor, where it would soak the floor beneath the mat (or the mat as well, depending on how heavy the rain was).

After awhile it would dry out and the smell would go away (this happened more quickly in summer when the windows were down a lot). This is why it seemed like the smell "reactivated" every time it rained - because it did! Getting the leak fixed fixed the problem, and the smell has completely gone away. Good luck!
Yes, this is what I have too! So that's definitely why it's 'reactivating' when it rains out.

I still want to get the rest of the smell out though, because like I said a wet jacket (or boots, kayaking gear/life jackets, etc.) can reactivate it as well.
So, i have some black epoxy coming the mail (for a different project), and I will use this to improve the weather sealing where it's leaking. on mine it actually leaks down the vertical back window.

Then I'll do the white vinegar, more baking soda, and maybe the iron / steamer idea.

I would try the baking soda trick, and then also try something like this: https://www.biocidesystems.com/auto-shocker-clo2-odor-eliminator-quick-release  I know the house version works well at getting pet and cigarette odors out of houses (friend's experiences).
Have you used this personally yourself? Looks great!
My only concern is that the website is riddled with typos and just kinda gives me the feeling their 'guarantee' of safety isn't that well substantiated.

to the other posters, I've done the baking powder thing a bunch of times, but the smell just comes back. Good suggestion though and I will continue to do so as a maintenance thing. Baking Powder seems to be a temporary solution.

Baking soda and Baking powder are two very different things.  Are you using soda?

To those that recommend the ozone, I read some stuff about how Ozone can be really, really bad for your lungs. Like, the EPA doesn't recommend you use it, really at all. That's my interpretation of this article I read: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/ozone-generators-are-sold-air-cleaners

Were you aware of those risks at the time you've used it, and continued on anyway?
Do you write this off as just something like 'being scared of the microwave'? It seems like a bigger deal than that to me personally..but I don't know much about the science.

tralfamadorian

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Re: My car smells like sh*t - recommendations
« Reply #25 on: December 13, 2017, 07:59:50 AM »
To those that recommend the ozone, I read some stuff about how Ozone can be really, really bad for your lungs. Like, the EPA doesn't recommend you use it, really at all. That's my interpretation of this article I read: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/ozone-generators-are-sold-air-cleaners

Were you aware of those risks at the time you've used it, and continued on anyway?
Do you write this off as just something like 'being scared of the microwave'? It seems like a bigger deal than that to me personally..but I don't know much about the science.

Yes, I am aware of the harmful qualities of ozone. I've worked in an industry where large machines are used on a regular basis for sterilization purposes.

You should not be in the space when the ozone machine is in operation. Close the space so the ozone can completely permeate the area, leave it closed for the sterilization to occur, then allow the space (in the case, your truck) to air out completely to allow the ozone to dissipate and break back down into O2. The change from O3 to O2 is supposed to happen in 30 minutes or so. For a vehicle, I would give it a day to be on the safe side. For work, we would give it an hour.