I'm a Aeroputz and need magical solution for mildew smell on rubber
August 11, 2010 7:44 AM   Subscribe

You guys are my last hope: is there anything I can do to remove the mildew smell from my Aeropress plunger? It turns out I accidentally put the Aeropress away without removing the used coffee "puck" first — and it stayed that way for weeks. Of course, the rubber end of the plunger has a mildew smell, which seems invincible. We removed the rubber bit and I've tried covering it with baking soda, soaking it in vinegar, soaking it in vinegar and soda, soaking in dilute bleach, and then dilute peroxide. THEN... my husband sanded down the rubber end a bit, and I tried it all over again, to no avail.

The easy answer is to replace the Aeropress, but it was a big pain in the ass to get it to begin with, because they aren't sold here, and a lot of people won't ship here (Greece), so I ended up paying a lot to a UK company willing to post one to us. I probably won't go through all the hassle again.
posted by taz to Home & Garden (23 answers total)
 
Hmmm. Well, coffee beans are often mentioned as useful for removing bad smells. Have you tried making coffee in it since doing this? I might not drink the first pot or so, but it's worth a try.
posted by Knicke at 7:48 AM on August 11, 2010


try leaving it out in bright sunlight.
posted by buka at 7:48 AM on August 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


This might be obvious, but have you really scrubbed/bleached the hollow part on the other side of the plunger? At least for my Aeropress, the plunger is hollow and can hold water, and could definitely get mildew-y.
posted by fermezporte at 7:57 AM on August 11, 2010


If nothing else works I'd be happy to ship you one from the US. I also have a close colleague who goes home to Greece at the holidays (ThessalonĂ­ki I believe). I could get him to ship it to you within Greece.
posted by KevCed at 7:59 AM on August 11, 2010


I'd start with a soaking of white vinegar.
posted by eatdonuts at 8:01 AM on August 11, 2010


Stupid me, you said you did that. Sorry Taz.
posted by eatdonuts at 8:01 AM on August 11, 2010


I've just put it out in the sun (which we definitely have a surfeit of at this time of year!), buka; definitely worth a try!

We did remove the rubber part, fermezporte, so it's both sides of it that have received the treatments.

Thank you, KevCed! It's not unpossible that I might take you up on that. :)
posted by taz at 8:06 AM on August 11, 2010


So you managed to get the rubber plunger end off entirely?

Boil it. Should be pretty heat safe.
posted by fontophilic at 8:11 AM on August 11, 2010


Maybe a soak in lemon juice?

I'd also second Knicke's suggestion of making a few pots & tossing them out. That's what I always have to do to break in a new Mokka as the first few pots taste like rubber & metal. Blecch.

The Aeropress website lists these guys as the Greek contact for international sales; maybe they could help you out should all else fail?
posted by romakimmy at 8:11 AM on August 11, 2010


I'll give them a try maybe, but from what I can tell of them, if they are selling at all, they are selling to coffee houses. The last time it was a different contact, but the guy said he wasn't selling to individuals or retail places. Or maybe he just wasn't dealing with them at all.

I'll try boiling and lemon juice.
posted by taz at 8:18 AM on August 11, 2010


I second the suggestion of leaving it outdoors in bright sunlight. I had some plastic/vinyl-ly pastry bags that had gotten mold or mildew from a combo of buttercream scuz and being stored while damp. I soaked them in dilute bleach, but that didn't work on its ownl. After letting them dry in the sun for a day, it totally got rid of the smell.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 8:37 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


The mildew smell is coming from fungus. The ONLY thing on earth that will kill fungus and get rid of the mildew smell is bleach. Soak it. Rinse it well. You should be fine.
posted by watercarrier at 8:37 AM on August 11, 2010


Nthing direct sunlight. In my experience, it's the only thing that has gotten persistent mold and food smells out of all kinds of plastic items, despite trying bleach and other methods first. It can work in a matter of minutes sometimes.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 9:12 AM on August 11, 2010


Try oxygen cleaner.
posted by JayRwv at 9:24 AM on August 11, 2010


The ONLY thing on earth that will kill fungus and get rid of the mildew smell is bleach.

This isn't actually true: there are many effective fungicides, including UV (sun) light. Bleach is actually not effective in many instances.

I would leave it out in the sun, then make a batch of coffee (toss out the first batch). Or let the piece sit in a bag of coffee for a few days.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:30 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


http://static.metafilter.com/images/mefi/bold.gif

Unfortunately, using anti-fungicides around food and beverages is not such a great idea and their effectiveness is unknown. What is known, tried and true is simple, cheap and available at any grocery store - and that is bleach.
posted by watercarrier at 10:05 AM on August 11, 2010


Aerobie will send just the rubber part if you need them to. The shipping on that shouldn't be too terrible. They do wear out eventually anyway; it doesn't hurt to have a spare around.
posted by bink at 11:15 AM on August 11, 2010


Unfortunately, using anti-fungicides around food and beverages is not such a great idea and their effectiveness is unknown.

I assume you mean fungicides, and the effect of sunlight on mildew is well known, as is its safety.

What is known, tried and true is simple, cheap and available at any grocery store - and that is bleach.

Both the EPA and OSHA have stopped recommending bleach for use in mold abatement on porous surfaces. The Clorox Company has stated that chlorine bleach is effective against two types of fungi on "hard, non-porous surfaces." The only fungi that the Clorox Company says are killed by bleach are yeast and athelete's foot.

So, yeah, I'm not anti-bleach, but saying it is "the only thing on earth that kills fungus" and "known, tried and true", are not supported by the Clorox Company's own website. Bleach is not the only safe fungicide, and it is not effective in all instances.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:56 PM on August 11, 2010


... "safe", being a relative term, of course.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:57 PM on August 11, 2010


Thanks for the tip, bink; I've emailed the company to see how/if I can just order the rubber piece. I will let you guys know what I hear, and in the meantime, I'm still trying sun therapy. :)
posted by taz at 1:33 AM on August 12, 2010


KevCed above made a kind offer which you should respond to. Otherwise you can try to buy a new one online, for example from Amazon.
I can't live w/out my Aeropress, I know how you feel.
posted by mono blanco at 5:00 AM on August 12, 2010


oooh... thanks, mono blanco; I totally spaced and thought I had responded to KevCed. Thank you so much, KevCed! I think I zoned out because you mentioned Thessaloniki, which is where we used to live, and which I miss very much, and then I started wondering if any of our friends know your friend — and then, a friend from Thessaloniki phoned. :)

A very kind Mefite has offered to send me her Aeropress, which she isn't using — so if the replacement part can't happen, I have a back up now!

Also, we had to abort the Sun Therapy experiment; the rubber nubbin started to melt. That, dear friends, is how hot it is in Athens today.
posted by taz at 6:22 AM on August 12, 2010


Melting nubbin. That's not wet; that's melting.
posted by taz at 6:34 AM on August 12, 2010


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