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Old 02-07-2015, 10:55 PM   #1
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Interior Cleaning Products -- Need Suggestions


Just bought a used 1996 4Runner, I got a pretty good deal for it and everything works great. There's only one problem...

It stinks.

The previous owner, while a nice guy, was an avid fitness nut who had 2 dogs... needless to say, the combined smell of B.O, old hockey gear, and wet dog permeates the entire cockpit, seats, and carpet. The combined odour effect hits you like a brick to the face and is enough to make one gag from the overwhelming odorous assault. My family members can't help but make snide comparisons to the well-known Seinfeld episode where Jerry encounters a similar problem with a BMW he leaves at the valet. In short, it's offensive.

On top of that, the truck was rarely driven (2-3 times a month) and sat parked on the street. So there is a strong "mildew/mold" smell coming from the air vents. This odour goes away when the de-fog/AC is turned on, presumably because the smell is being filtered out.

So I need recommendations for interior detailing products that will make this foul stench go away forever. The seats are leather so something leather-safe is a must. I'm more of a DIY guy so I'd rather not take the truck to a detailer, but I also don't want to waste time and money using products that don't work.

Hit me with your best shot. Thanks everyone

Last edited by Tone Loc; 02-07-2015 at 11:01 PM.
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Old 02-07-2015, 11:58 PM   #2
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Thanked 4,452 Times in 1,028 Posts get a can of those intense orange odor removal sprays. At work, sometimes cars come back smelling like weed, bo, coffee, smoke, diapers and 99% of the time the spray gets the odor gone. But it leaves your car smelling like someone just cut open an orange. The sprays honestly just mask the smell though. Detailers use an ozone machine to actually get rid of the smell and its more than likely the scents that you're smelling are deep into the carpets and headliner. A method that I found that worked was spraying some febreeze or glade directly into the fabric then letting it sit for like 5 minutes and then taking a shop vac to it.
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Old 02-08-2015, 12:03 AM   #3
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spray deordorizer into the vents (outside the windshield) and let it run full blast
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Old 02-08-2015, 12:15 AM   #4
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LOL i bought a pathfinder last year with the exact same problem.
Smelt like wet dog.
Used a bottle of
and also vacuumed everything and wiped everything down.
smell was gone.
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Old 02-08-2015, 12:34 AM   #5
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Bacterial odor sprays

Baking soda
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Old 02-08-2015, 09:20 AM   #6
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Old 02-08-2015, 09:27 AM   #7
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Here's what I would do and have done:

1. Take out your carpet(s) and hang it somewhere outside like over the fence. You may need to remove your seats. Then blast it with water until the water becomes clear.

2. Lay it on the ground and spread Oxyclean over the whole thing while it is still wet. Get a brush and rub it in everywhere. Let it work its magic for a couple hours and put it back on the fence and rinse it out with water until clear. Don't let the Oxyclean dry out.

3. Repeat the process with Dawn w. baking soda and then with Tide. Then final rise on fence.

4. Inside your truck, wipe all vinyl and leather down with desired cleaner. Steam clean cloth seats with hot water and desired cleaner.
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Old 02-09-2015, 03:19 AM   #8
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Put dryer sheets below the seats, in the glove box, in the side pockets, etc.

Seriously, those fuckers really mask other odors without making the car smell like a Bangladeshi petrochemicals factory.

Go with brand name dryer sheets. I usually rock the Bounce 'Meadow Spring' scent. Don't waste your time on Safeway brand shit.

My previous BMW had no alarm fitted, so I stuffed the empty little roof box (designed for alarm sensors/electronics) with a couple of them and the car pretty much always smelled fucking great.

Combined with a subtle air freshener, I hear they even mask the smell of marijuana cigarettes (but of course I wouldn't know that from personal experience).

Replace the dryer sheets with fresh ones every week or so to ensure the 'decaying corpses' aroma doesn't come back.
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Old 02-09-2015, 03:21 AM   #9
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Also, I assume you've replaced the cabin air filter(s) and looked into whether there might be anti-stank cabin filters available?

Is the car parked in an indoor garage, or out in the elements? An engine bay steam cleaning, followed by an extended period of time indoors in a somewhat warm & dry environment might help with the A/C mildew smell. Maybe too much effort for what its worth, but it's an idea.
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Old 02-13-2015, 12:41 AM   #10
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I would try to simulate a carpet cleaning service and get some carpet cleaner with a steam cleaner and go at it.

or you can just try the steamer first, then top it all off with some FeBreeze. it would be most effective if you did this in the spring/summer when the weather is warmer. and of course, leave the car outside windows down to let everything air out.
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Old 02-13-2015, 12:48 AM   #11
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you can purchase something call "Dakota odor car bomb" but that will just mask away the smell.
What we do at the shop is interior shampoo the carpets and seats then use a blower overnight dry.
Then come back to see if the smell is still there, if not then depending on the customer, we can "bomb" the car with the odor, but we usually recommend not to as that stuff is design for a 2000sqft apartment and it's bombing in a sedan/truck cause quite a headache for a while sniffing in the scent.
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Old 02-13-2015, 04:34 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by smoothie. View Post

Bacterial odor sprays

Baking soda
baking soda...i got baking soda
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Old 02-13-2015, 06:45 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by brrrz View Post
baking soda...i got baking soda
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Old 02-13-2015, 07:12 AM   #14
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There is nothing that's going to remove the smell without some serious work. Its inside every soft surface.
You need to remove and clean the carpets, seats, headliner. I have had to do this on MANY vehicles with some serious odours. It gets right down to the metal. I have even seen after doing this that the plastics on some surface absorb the odours and to get those out you would need to replace panels.

Anything you spray in, leave in or try to cover the smell will do next to nothing for the long term. Cunning got the right idea for the carpets but you will need to do similar work on the seats and headliner. An ozoneator will help out as well.
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