Removing an unpleasantly fragrant residue
November 3, 2017 1:22 AM   Subscribe

My car reeks of carpet shampoo. How do I get rid of the smell?

I recently had a food spill in the car (2005 Prius if it matters) so I decided to go to a full service car wash and have them shampoo the upholstery and carpet.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but a week later the carpet shampoo fragrance lingers, very strong, like really bad fabric softener perfume. There's a slightly sticky residue feeling on the seats. I hate this smell and I want it to go away.

I've left the car in the sun with the windows cracked, blasted the heater, drove around with the windows down. It's definitely not fading away. Every time I get back in the car, the smell is so strong I can taste it.

I'm planning on spraying a little diluted white vinegar all over everything, then hitting it with a steamer, then a wet/dry vaccuum. Any better ideas?
posted by bigtex to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
 
Get a medium bag of activated charcoal from a garden supply, and keep some in a large tupperware tub in the back seat foot well? Tape a layer or two of paper towel over the mouth of the tub.

May work, and I don't see how it could hurt.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:55 AM on November 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


Are the seats leather or fabric? If leather, wipe them down with a VERY dilute Dawn dishwashing liquid/water mix (there should be no real bubbles, you just want a little help breaking down the fragrance oils). If fabric, head back to the cleaning company, explain the problem and ask them to re-clean the carpets with water only. If you can, buy (or rent) an ozonator machine to take care of the rest of the lingering smell.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 2:20 AM on November 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


Click and Clack always prescribed kitty litter for getting out moisture or smells. Sprinkle through he carpet, wait, shop vac.
posted by Gotanda at 2:45 AM on November 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'd be going back to whoever cleaned it and asking for them to fix it, especially if there is a slightly sticky residue on the fabric.

Baring that, I'd be spreading baking soda over EVERYTHING, leaving it over night, and then vacuuming it up.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:21 AM on November 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


For fabric seats I'd spray them with carpet cleaner and vacuum it up once it dries. Test that the carpet cleaner scent is agreeable.
posted by zippy at 9:16 AM on November 3, 2017


Def do the vinegar spray and then also leave a small bowl of full-strength white vinegar in the car with the windows shut overnight.
We had a similar problem with a lingering scent from a perfume-crazy guest and the open bowl of vinegar removed it in a few hours.
posted by mdrew at 9:21 AM on November 3, 2017


Vinegar and the steamer should do it - but I agree you should make the service fix it since there is a sticky residue. You paid them, let them fix it.
posted by jbenben at 12:23 PM on November 3, 2017


I had strong lingering car fragrance once and I am happy to tell you what did not fix it, and that is unscented Febreeze.
posted by komara at 1:16 PM on November 3, 2017


Thanks all for the replies.

The seats are fabric.

I'll consider going back to the place if I'm not able to clear up the smell easily. I kind of feel like the carpet shampooing machine is their only tool there, and they'd just do it again, which I don't think I want. And the place is a bit out of the way... and was a bit of a disorganized gong show while I was there waiting...

I think I'll try the simple home remedy stuff (baking soda overnight, vaccuum, if still stinky then vinegar, steamer, vaccuum) and see how it goes.
posted by bigtex at 10:33 PM on November 3, 2017


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