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Home > Autos, Planes & Bikes > Detailing Supplies & Tips > Detailing Tips > Facts About Odor Removal

Facts About Odor Removal

Facts About Odor Removal
Facts About Odor Removal Categorizing the Odor Source

Odor removal requires a lot of common sense. It amazes me that professionals still think they can eliminate odors by shampooing the interior, and spraying a deodorizer. Nothing is farther from the truth. Many odors are caused by micro-organisms such as bacteria, mold, and mildew. Not only does shampooing not eradicate these odors, it spreads them over a much wider area! You must kill odor-causing organisms with very specialized chemicals.

Technically, an odor is an invisible gas, so it can permeate any material or crevice. Its location can be as simple as following your nose, or it may require a little detective work. If the odor smells like spoiled food, were children eating in the car? Where did they sit? Look for stains. If there are no stains, narrow the playing field. The process of elimination is very effective when searching for the source of an odor. Floor or seats? Mats or carpet? If the vehicle has velour upholstery, a spill can penetrate on contact. If it is vinyl or leather, it will run to the deepest seam.

Specialized ultraviolet lights are useful in locating protein-based odors such as urine stains, but there is no commercially viable device that will sniff out odors. Your nose is still the best method of locating bacteria driven odors.

Mold and mildew form quickly in damp carpet, carpet padding, and ventilation systems. Everyone has experienced a musty odor coming from an air vent. This source is easy to locate, but what about musty carpet? Usually resulting from an open window or a leak, locating the contaminated area only requires a bit of tracking or research.

Tobacco odor is easy to locate (it's on everything), but requires the most effort to eliminate.

Selecting the Treatment

Some odors can be eliminated with just one of the following techniques. Others require multiple procedures.

Oxidation: Products that have the ability to bleach, are also effective deodorizers. Ozone, hydrogen peroxide, and household bleach are very effective in eliminating odors caused by organic decomposition and skunks.

Biocides: Products that kill or inhibit the growth of micro organisms, such as mold, mildew and urine.

Counteractants: Complex odors, such as tobacco smoke and fire residue, respond well to a series of odor counteraction procedures. These may be using an aerosol or bomb or professional thermal fogging.

Choosing the Right Tools & Chemicals

You may already possess several of the tools needed to remove odors. Trigger or pump sprayers are used to apply biocides, or for controlled spraying of odor counteractants. Lint-free towels are used for wiping and cleaning smooth, non-porous surfaces such as vinyl, plastic, metal and glass.

You will, however, need more specialized tools for odors deep in carpet and upholstery padding, ventilation systems, and other inaccessible areas. A hypodermic syringe is used to inject biocides into carpet and seat padding. Ultra Violet lighting is used to detect the presence and location of urine stains.

Top of the Line's electric thermal foggers, and aerosol foggers are also very effective for treating tobacco and fire contamination. These tools will reach every square inch of a vehicle or building, exposed or hidden. They are the only method of treating ventilation systems, and may be used as a "follow-up" after injected or sprayed chemicals.