De-stenching an interior

The vehicle isn't a Ford, it's actually a 2001 Toy*ta Rav 4. It belongs to a good customer of mine that owns a catering company. They used this truck? van? mini
SUV? for food deliveries when 2 of their fullsize vans were down. This thing smelled horrid from the food drippings soaked into the carpet. There were a couple of major meat juice spills in the rear that seeped into the front carpet, then it sat for a fouple of months. I could not drive it with the windows closed! Think of a mixture of spoiled milk and vomit. (On second thought,please don't).
I've removed and cleaned the seats, canned all of the carpet, padding and sound deadener. I've scrubbed the floor pans, wheel tubs and remaining interior pieces (except the headliner and MVAC system) with Purple Power cleaner and sprayed the metal surfaces with epoxy sealer. The smell is much less pronounced, but it is still there after sitting in the sun a while. Any suggestions on further reducing the smell? It's gutted right now except for the driver seat, head liner and pillar trim.
The front will get a new OEM carpet set and the entire floor will get a coat of rubberized bed liner with carpet cut to fit (in case it needs to be pressed into catering service again). The MVAC will get a shot of Ford AC Disodorizer, and I'm thinking Febreeze for the headliner. Any other thoughts?
Tom
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"Tom Adkins" wrote

Try a chicken, or cornish hen, or whatever it was in the bag that had fallen under the driver's seat. According to the grocery store receipt, it had been under there for several weeks before the lady came to our carwash to see if the detail guy could get rid of a "strange smell". After discovering the remains, we resorted to flooding the carpets to get the large population of maggots to float to the surface so we could vacuum them up, then soaped and scrubbed and rinsed and soaped and scrubbed and rinsed and..... eventually gave up, returned the car, and told her there was nothing more we could do for it.

I'd say head liner. Sun warms the roof, which warms the headliner. Lots of fabric, padding and foam up there to soak up the stench.Take out everything that might have absorbed the smell, let the sun heat the car, then see if it still smells. Or try to totally cover the headliner with a big sheet of heavy plastic and lots of duct tape, and see if sealing it off also seals off the smell. Then do the seat, too.
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MasterBlaster wrote:

Ok, we're talking very similar smell. I'm glad you're familiar.:) No amount of 'cleaning and scrubbing" will remove odors from carpet in an automobile. There's too many layers of absorbent "stuff" underneath. All of the carpet and sound deadener is gone.

Done that, except for the headliner. It's a hard molded form with a thin fabric layer, not like the headliner you're thinking of on a domestic car. Think modern Japanese car. The smell has had to permeate it, but scrubbing will damage it. Any thoughts on cleaning it?
Then do the seat, too. Yep, done 'em both twice just to be thorough. They're drying as we speak.
I could see where the 'juice' penetrated the sound deadener under the carpet, it stripped off the paint!! There was metal corrosion under the carpet in places that there shouldn't be "rust", topped with foul smelling black goo similar to sewer grease. It also reacted with the seam sealer and turned it into smelly sticky goo. (This catering company's food is excellent, but I'm starting to wonder?? ;) ) I cleaned all of that up and sealed all of the metal floor with epoxy primer.

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Contact one of the companies that specializing in cleaning buildings after a fire, WBMA
mike

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Tom Adkins wrote:

Try copious amounts of "Febreeze" sprayed wherever you can get it in.
And stop posting about non-Fords. :)
Rob
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trainfan1 wrote:

Got the super sized 'economy' bottle.

OK (Hanging head, pouting and walking to the corner).

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Don't hang your head. And stop pouting. Just post the Toy*ta stuff (whatever a Toy*ta is) to the proper newsgroup.
Jeff

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wrote:

My brother bought a Ford (Taurus) station wagon that a guy had left a few bags of gargage in, and then died (not in the car). By the time the car was found and opened it stunk to high heaven. Bro got it CHEAP and had an industrial ozonator put in it for a total of about 48 hours (multiple times). Finally it smells not too bad.
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wrote:

OZONE
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Mythbusters did an extreme example of this (on purpose of course.) They put 2 whole (guts and all) freshly dead pigs in a used, but fairly pristine Corvette and locked it in a cargo container for a month (or 2, I forget)
They had to strip out every bit of fabric/leather/vinyl/whatever and still couldn't get the stink out.
Tom Adkins wrote:

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Have you tried a bucket of soapy water, with a box of Sodium Bicarbonate ( baking soda) dissolved in it? Failing that, every city has a firm that cleans up homes where someone has died. Find them in the yellow pages. They have ways of making the smell, and mess go away.
Steve R.
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I always get a kick out of seeing this kind of stuff. It supports how many myths there are about cleaning.
The problems you talk about are PROTEIN based. SInce they were in liquid form, they can be removed by a liquid. OZONE is only good for smoke and a few other things that are airborne.
Go talk to a professional carpet cleaner (or if you are in NE Ohio, send me a message) and ask them for a protein spotter. Use it on the areas where there was food spillage. Give it a good cleaning and rinsing and you should be OK to go. I also use Proliminator (another professional carpet solution) for odors.
Hope this helps-
-SP
Tom Adkins wrote:

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But wouldn't that be a solid? I mean very small bits of protein and fat and whatever in the meat that was suspended in the juices?
Either way, what ozone (sorry, no CAPS needed) would do is oxidize the protein and kill whatever bacteria are left, if any. It would also oxidize at least some of the odor-causing molecules left in the van.

IIRC, the carpet is no longer in the SUV.

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On Thu, 10 May 2007 03:27:08 GMT, Speedy Pete

No, OZONE, like chlorine, attacks anything organic. You need to remove the liquid sourse, yes. But after the initial cleanup, Ozone DOES work. (to remove the odours absorbed into the "non contact" material that has air-space in it (like headliner and roof insulation, etc.)

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This thing smelled horrid from the food drippings soaked into the carpet. There were a couple of major meat juice spills in the rear that seeped into the front carpet, then it sat for a couple of months. I could not drive it with the windows closed! Think of a mixture of spoiled milk and vomit. (On second thought,please don't).
Any suggestions on further reducing the smell? It's gutted right now except for the
Any other thoughts? Tom
hi tom - here's something to chew on. i'm not going to say that it works for everything.
i bought a car that wreaked so bad that you couldn't stand to get in the car. if the doors were opened up, you would smell the stench 20 feet away and this is outdoors.
the insides of the car had the odor of what a person who literally lived in the car and never took a shower or bath. the body odor, plus they must have smoked, because around the driver's headliner area was dark from smoke. there was green moldy dog food under the seats that had "melted" into the carpet.
i was determined to beat the odor. after about 8 complete top to bottom scrubbing out the car, i was still getting brown water. i was using a big green machine and simple green as well as pure strength grease cutter. i never replaced the carpet or any other items - like seats.
it took about 4 months of 'airing out' but the car was drivable. then, as time went on, the odor went away completely. my son and his wife (who have sensitive noses) finally ended up with the car two years later and put 50,000 miles on it and never did say one word about any kind of odor that the car had.
the bottom line is to remove the offending source of the odor. just because it is in the carpet, doesn't mean that you have to replace the carpet. ozone machines do help in that problem too, but i've found that it works on cigarette smoke better.
another problem that we beat - a cat got up on the back deck of the car that was sitting in the sun and died. it wasn't found for about a week. we got the smell out of the car, but it wasn't easy.
my latest project - i have a building that had a chinese restaurant and they quit the business and left in the middle of the night. the building was shut up for over 6 weeks as i went through the courts to get possession of my property again. when i opened the doors, the odors were rip your head off. can you imagine what a building with all of this food that included fish, shrimp, and other sea foods, as well as the fifth of the grease traps that hadn't been cleaned in 6 months. you would "stick" to the floor as you walked around. i filled two big dumpsters up with spoiled food. it's taken me two months to get rid of the smell, but the new renters are opening up next month. so, you can beat the odor problem.
i also have rental properties and you can imagine how some renters will leave a smelly mess, but i'm not going there.
hope this information helps....
~ curtis
knowledge is power - growing old is mandatory - growing wise is optional "Many more men die with prostate cancer than of it. Growing old is invariably fatal. Prostate cancer is only sometimes so." http://community.webtv.net/PALMER_ENT/doc
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wrote:

I was going to suggest the "Doc Nickel Method" (stolen shamelessly from http://www.the-whiteboard.com/ ) that consists of "Six cans of Febreze taped around a Flash/Bang Grenade" - but in this case, you really need to tape them around a few pounds of plastic explosives and get everyone way the hell back.
Face it - The car is toast. Very expensive lesson, So Sorry.

Seriously, time to cut your losses: Go find another RAV-4 the same year and powertrain type with a huge problem like a blown engine - but a good interior. Transfer all the good powertrain parts over from "the stinker" to the good car, and send "the stinker" off to the smelter to make fresh steel.
You can save the car if you have unlimited spare time and you consider your time to be "free". Otherwise, you have to set a limit where you'll cut your losses and scrap the car - and I would long ago be past that cut-off. You could easily spend $25,000 in effort and $5,000 in parts and supplies to save a $5,000 car, and "that way lies madness..."
The engine and powertrain bits and the body panels are worth quite a bit sold as parts, but the seats and all the interior soft parts from the stinky car are trash.
If you're lucky, you can get the smell out if you totally strip out the interior to bare steel on all sides, and I mean TOTALLY. Anything that can hold the organic compounds comprising the stench has to go: Headliner, asphaltic padding on the firewall and under the carpets, thermal insulation over the headliner and stuffed in the door post cavities, carpet-and-cardboard sandwich trunk/cargo area liner, any cardboard or pressboard composite things like kick-panels and glovebox interior, etc.
You will need to dismantle the "heater box" and the entire heating and air conditioning system (ducting and damper systems, too) and replace all the fabric-hose and soft parts (foam padding and foam seals on the damper doors and foam seals between sections of the ductwork) and pressure wash the rest. The stink gets sucked in there and settles in.
You may need to remove the wiring harness and computer and all the other electrical bits, and pressure wash out the bare body shell with some seriously harsh detergents and a steam pressure washer cranked to Full Hot. And even after all that effort, you may miss something.
And then even if you're victorious and have a rolling and running car shell that doesn't stink, you have to buy all new seats and all the door panels, headliner, carpet kit and myriad other interior bits to outfit the car so it's drivable again. And spend the effort to put it all together, in the right order.
--<< Bruce >>--
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Tom Adkins wrote:

Thanks for all of the replies. I've got the smell aaalllmost gone. Good enough for the customer, anyway. I found that the contamination had reacted with the seam sealer in the rear, turning it into a thick foul smelling goo. After cleaning, this was the source of the bulk of the residual smell. I scraped it all out and scrubbed the remains out with, of all things, Dawn dish soap. I then resealed the seams and coated the entire rear area with bed liner. Febreeze worked on the seats and headliner. I found that the truck had a cabin filter. A new filter and the disodorizer fixed the MVAC system right up.
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In all the replies, you people forgot a cheap simple (but kinda messy) one...coffee grounds. Just be sure whatever you're putting them on is DRY or you'll make an even bigger mess (stains) but coffee grounds do a great job absorbing odors, just leave it in for a couple days then vacuum them out, then febreze. I don't know about you, but I'd sure rather smell coffee than smell vomit/rotten milk!
-GV
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