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Old 10-12-2014, 01:26 PM   #1
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The wonders of vinegar

I bought an older camper van to renovate over time. The van smelled rather perfumy when I got it, but I realized over time it was masking a very acrid body oder smell, which intensified dramatically in the heat. I was able to diminish the smell through massive disinfecting and leaving the van open for several weeks, and the body is pretty good now.

However, the large overhead storage area would not air out no matter what I tried. Like the roof, it is completely lined by a thin, quilted foam pad which holds the odor. It felt like someone punching my olfactory nerves every time I opened it.

Based on an article about removing skunk odor from a home by placing a bowl of vinegar in the corner of the affected room, I gave it a try. I put the bowl in the overhead storage overnight before a trip, closed the cabinet door, and darned if it didnít to the trick! The smell is almost completely gone the next morning.

I have two stinky dogs that come with us camping, and it is probably just a matter of time before their smell infiltrates the quilting as well. Iím thinking of putting out a bowl of vinegar after each trip.

Iíve also heard boiling vinegar and water will work, probably faster. The basic premise is that odors are usually acidic, and vinegar is alkaline, which neutralizes them.

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Old 10-12-2014, 01:54 PM   #2
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Re: The wonders of vinegar

I've had great success with ground coffee (not coffee grounds) in a wide variety of places over the years... but ya' gotta like the smell of coffee, as it sticks around.

I admit not using it in the van... I just tore out and replaced the entire interior instead. PO had dropped some professional-grade air freshener BLOCKS behind all the walls to try and prevent rodents (doesn't work) They were as appealing as urinal cakes. I couldn't even imagine what that would be like combined with coffee.

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Old 10-12-2014, 09:03 PM   #3
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Re: The wonders of vinegar

Originally Posted by jpau00
Iíve also heard boiling vinegar and water will work, probably faster. The basic premise is that odors are usually acidic, and vinegar is alkaline, which neutralizes them.
Vinegar is mostly acetic acid, and quite a bit of trivia, when RTV silicone is curing, it has a vinegar odor; it liberates acetic acid as it cures.
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Old 10-13-2014, 03:58 AM   #4
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Re: The wonders of vinegar

Great advice, sounds like a very handy trick to keep in mind.

For those who acquire a used vehicle with odors left behind from the PO there is a process whereby the entire interior can be "fogged", odors being neutralized and reported to be forever gone. It can eradicate even those smells deeply embedded in the seat cushions or any other highly porous material. Thinking of our vans and how they're largely not just metal surfaces somewhat easily cleaned its nice to know something is available that doesn't require a full gut job.

I don't know the exact term for this, have heard it called "ozone replacement" etc etc but it is usually readily available in your local area, check for fire restoration services. While those are typically known to work more closely with rebuilding a house after a fire many are also experienced with servicing auto/truck interiors too.

Smelly vans the vinegar can't tame would be good candidates for this---costs about $200 or so for a full-sized vehicle.
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Old 10-13-2014, 10:03 AM   #5
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Re: The wonders of vinegar

I've used some of the enzymatic stuff you get at pet stores before; worked pretty well.
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