I just bought a used car that has a really strong chemical smell in it. I think it is paint thinner that the former owner must have spilled in the car. I have had it detail cleaned, but the smell will not go away. Does anyone know how to clean up paint thinner or at least get rid of the fumes/smell?
By Ashler from UT
Open a bag of charcoal briquettes and put it in the car for a few days. (05/11/2009)
I'd become the best bloodhound in history until I found the exact location, then I'd sprinkle plain baking soda for as long as it smells. If that doesn't work, I'd try coffee grounds. If that doesn't work, I'd try the mouthwash idea, same as if for pet urine. It should work. As a last resort after vacuuming each of the above up between applications, I'd use vinegar. It may be WD-40 which is fish oil and very strong when in an enclosed place. Because it is oil, if this is the chemical, I'd also add a little Ivory liquid to the vinegar/water, and wash before trying the second thing mentioned above.
If it's a spill in the crack of the seat, on the floor, or all over the car from cleaning with it, I'd open all of the windows every time I drove, and park out of the sun where possible.
What sort of chemical smell is it? Minty, oily, alcohol, perfumy, woody, tarry, leathery, or what? It could simply be some bad cologne that went rancid, or a combination of things the owner tried to
clean with in desperation?
Certainly try the charcoal briquettes, but I'd put them in a double paper grocery sack and crush them with a hammer first. It's one of the best air fresheners for a lot of things, even soured swamp water and sewer smells.
Airwick or Renuzit has a neutralizer spray that kills many odors that might also work, but the aerosol could be dangerous to breathe so be careful about using it then trying to drive before it evaporates over 13-36 hours. Many aerosols are formaldehyde that have killed teens. Good luck and god bless you. (05/19/2009)
Go to the local auto parts store and ask for a bottle of "Pink Stuff" (it's the actual name) this will work on kerosene, gas, etc. It should work on paint thinner. First I always put down baking soda, vacuum and try again.
I put the Pink Stuff in one of those little green machines (rug shampooer) and did my dh's car when he spilled kerosene. This worked great. I did have to do it more than once, because he didn't have anything to mop up the spill with so it was a bad spill (this is the disadvantage of having a clean car, in mine there would have been something).
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