Smoke Damage in a Van

I need suggestions on how to remove smoke damage. My son is going to Welding school, he uses our old mini van for transportation. He carries all his welding supplies in the back of the van, some of it in a big plastic bucket.


He swears he checked to be sure everything was cold when he put it in, but we came home last night and the van was FILLED with thick, black, acrid smoke! Something hot in the bucket smoldered and burned everything in the bucket, melted the bucket to the floor & singed the back seat. It had just started to flame and we put the embers out with the hose!

The biggest problem is major smoke damage. It is in everything; I don't know how we are going to get rid of it. We only had liability on the van, so can't file a claim.

I bought Odo-Ban to wipe down the hard surfaces and upholstery. I got several bags of charcoal to hopefully soak up some of the smell. I also got plain cat litter to pour on the floor where we hosed it, to absorb water and odor. I probably need to rent a shampooer for the upholstery too.

I know this isn't going to get rid of all of the smoke and smell. I'm sure it's in the ventilation system too.

Do any of you have any suggestions on what else we can do to clean up this mess, and get rid of the smell so the thing is drivable again? At this point I'm pretty desperate and willing to try almost anything.

Judy from Tulsa

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October 12, 20070 found this helpful

place about 1/2- 1 cup vinegar in it with windows closed overnight then remove. the vinegar smell will disapate and leave the van smelling better. also you can place fabric softener sheets in it changing them every couple days. this is what car dealers do.

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October 12, 20070 found this helpful

also an ozone machine can be bought or rented. this was used on our house when it caught fire. it is pure oxygen

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October 15, 20070 found this helpful

There is a product called Fresh-Wave that takes odors out or rooms. It can be found at many ACE stores. Check out their web site for a satore near you.

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By no name today (Guest Post)
October 15, 20070 found this helpful

A very long time ago I had a problem with smoke damage to a car. I was told to get sasafrass oil and put it on a cloth or cotton ball. It sort of worked but I got tired of the smell of the sasafrass oil.


Putting the van in a garage with the windows open could help. Or outside depending on the weather, and the safety of your parking spot.

1-2 years later you couldn't tell there was a problem.

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By Marlene (Guest Post)
October 18, 20070 found this helpful

I have used coffee grounds (new or used) tied into an old sock or cloth to absorb odors. I don't know if that would help but it is worth a try, I guess.

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By cajunangel (Guest Post)
November 7, 20070 found this helpful

I have used opened Irish Spring Soap bars for odors before. It was to get rid of odors of freezer food that had ruined. Nothing else would work; i.e., not the charcoal, baking soda, etc. Not any of the normal solutions. Some country cousins told us of the soap and we tried it and it was wonderfully successful. They had had problems with freezers of food going out in cold weather.

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