Smelly Office
December 27, 2004 7:18 AM   Subscribe

How would one go about eliminating the odor of vinegar from one's office? [+]

Our office is in an old trailer house in the middle of the country. Recently, a skunk died beneath the trailer. This, as you can imagine, produced an unholy reek. Eventually we removed the corpse and the foul stench faded.

To an extent.

Sometime during those few days of unbearable smell, one of my co-workers took it upon himself to spread vinegar on all of the draperies, the fabric of the chairs, and even on the floors. (Somebody had told him that vinegar was an effective antidote to skunk scent; I think it just accentuated it.)

Now that the skunk is gone, the office still reeks of vinegar. It's everywhere.

Please: among all of you Metafilterians, there must be at least one person who can help us get rid of this odor.
posted by jdroth to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
County coroner always used a mixture of kitty litter and coffee grounds. Vacuum with a heavy-duty shop vac. A solution more directed towards putrefaction, not vinegar, but perhaps?
posted by sled at 7:32 AM on December 27, 2004

This has an "I know and old woman who swallowed a fly" echo to it, but I would try putting out small dishes of vanilla extract. I clean the kitchen with vinegar after I cook fish. Vanilla seems to absorb the vinegar smell.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:33 AM on December 27, 2004

I've always found baking soda to be effective at removing odors, though it would be hard to apply to drapes and chairs. I've had good luck sprinkling it (liberally) over a carpet, leaving it for 20 or 30 minutes and then vacuuming--a technique like that might work for your floors. Washing a smelly object with a paste of baking soda and water works, though you may have to repeat several times. It would be messy for drapes and chairs, though, and even if you get rid of the odor you might cause water damage. As far as dry techniques, I've also been able to remove strong bleu cheese odors from a pretty crock by pouring a few inches of baking soda inside, putting the cover on, letting it sit for a couple of days, and then repeating with fresh baking soda. It eventually became neutral enough to food without imparting a bleu cheese smell.

For the drapes, could you take them down and seal them in a plastic container (one of those big Rubbermaid storage boxes?) with a box or two of baking soda sprinkled over them? It should shake out pretty well when your done (though you may want to lightly vacuum with a hose attachment).

Air circulation would probably help as well--can you open windows, or place some of the offending items outside for a few days?
posted by handful of rain at 8:22 AM on December 27, 2004

yeah, add baking soda liberally, pound the surface to get it in there, let it sit for a good 7-10 days, then vacuum well.

and if you want to spend a little more, OxyClean (and the generic versions) will clean just about anything.
posted by rxrfrx at 8:49 AM on December 27, 2004

The Ionic Breeze air cleaner from Sharper Image (and equivalent cheaper models available at places like Fry's Electronics) are good about getting rid of ambient odors, but you'll definitely have to wash the drapes.
posted by mrbill at 9:46 AM on December 27, 2004

If you just want to get rid of the smell, apply some ExStink. Seriously. It works, despite the dodgy looking web page.
posted by majick at 11:03 AM on December 27, 2004

Mrbill, the Ionic Breeze doesn't do shit.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:32 AM on December 27, 2004

Ozium. But you should also have the drapes, furniture, and carpets steam-cleaned.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:17 PM on December 27, 2004

Anybody tried Febreeze yet?
posted by konolia at 12:23 PM on December 27, 2004

Febreze is good for things like getting the mothball smell off a sweater. For something like skunk, I would crack out the Ozium until I could get the steam-cleaners in.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:02 PM on December 27, 2004

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