How to remove the smell of fish from your car
Ugh, why'd it have to be fish.
I'm not sure if there is any worse smell than that of rotting fish. I can't even say that I'm big on eating fish. But I am sure that I do not like the smell of rotting fish in my car. This lens will detail the method that I used to remove that objectionable scent from my vehicle.
Do not try to "Cover" the smell of rotting fish in your car
Save Yourself the Time
Don't try to cover the smell
It is incredibly important that you DO NOT try to cover the smell of rotting fish in your car. I speak from experience, please believe me.
(1) Air Fresheners do not work, you will inevitably end up with a Minty or Forresty-fish smell that will destroy your love of any air freshener.
(2) Do not merely spray lemon-scented cleaning product on the smelly-area and hope that by tomorrow it will be gone. If, however you like the smell of lemony rotting fish, then maybe you can live with it. Personally, I don't.
(3) And lastly, although it may seem like a professional car washing company will be able to do a thorough job, there is almost no amount of money (short of selling the car to someone who has no sense of smell) that you can pay someone one to do it this for you. They will turn you away. And if they don't, they won't actually do enough to remove the smell.
In all honesty. There are really two ways to solve this problem (short of the steps below)
(1) Learn to truly love the smell of rotting fish
(2) Avoid ever having fish in your car for any reason
Materials and Preparation
Things you may want to use
When I go to do something that I feel is important, I want to do it correctly the first time. Therefore it is important to me to have the correct information and the best tools for the job (especially if I have to live with the results).
Step 1: Find or purchase the following
-- Baking Soda
-- A Container for water - Consider the job size and the area where you will be working when picking the size of the container
-- Warm water - DO NOT add a solvent or cleaning agent to this water.
-- Rubber Gloves - These will help to keep the smell and fish oil off your hands
-- A rough rag - preferably one that has not seen the oil from the underside of your car.
-- Paper Towels - Depending on the size of the job, you may consider an entire roll
-- Coffee Grounds - Pick your favorite type, or if not a coffee drinker, go with a package that has a flavor that you're familiar with. I don't drink coffee, but I love chocolate and hazelnut.
-- A pie pan or small wide-bottom bowl - I've found that pie pans work best because of the large surface area.
-- Lubricating fluid - Such as WD-40
Step 2: Fill the container about half full of warm water.
Notes: I'm not saying that you can't fill it nearly to the top. It's mostly a suggestion so that you don't spill a large container of hot water on your car and / or self (like I did).
Materials Purchase Options
The Cleaning Process
This might be the hardest part
I've found that I am very sensitive to certain smells and getting too close to an offensive one is a challenge.
Step 1: Find Primary the source. Your nose may be offended by the whole car, but you may also be aware of where the fish was sitting. Don the Rubber Gloves and start with that spot.
Step 2: Use the Paper Towels to absorb as much of the remaining fluid, if any as you can before Step 3.
Notes: Be sure that the surface of whatever you are cleaning can be cleaned with water, without ruining it. Clean, clear water is the best type..
Step 3: Use copious amounts of warm water to smother the primary source. Use the rag to mop up the water.
Notes: You may need to do a bit of scrubbing here too. This is a repetitious action of soak, scrub, and smell. Be sure that the rag is well-wrung before mopping again. Paper Towels are another option, but can become a costly endeavor if you're using a new one for each mopping action.
Step 4: Cover the spot with a generous helping of baking soda. Leave the baking soda for about 24 hours.
Notes: This may not always be possible to do, if the spot is not mostly horizontal and flat.
Step 5: Seek out additional spaces where the fluids may have gotten to.
Notes: As the surface of a car is occasionally in motion, the fish fluids could very well have slid around. Use your nose and sniff around for other spots that are offensive. If the smell has gotten down into some mechanical object like seatbelt connection or seat lever, clean with water as best as you can, then spray some WD-40 on the joints to loosen and wash the fish oil out. Sadly, WD-40 will not cover or eliminate the smell (Yeah, I tried that one, too).
WARNING: You will not get rid of the smell by all of the cleaning that you have just done. I'm sorry, I wish the news wasn't so grim. Fortunately, there are still more steps.
Step 6: Pour a generous portion of coffee grounds into the pie pan or bowl so that it completely covers the bottom.
Notes: I recommend a half-full amount if you have enough. Place the grounds on any space that was not a previously cleaned space. Any flat surface will do, preferably one that will not allow the grounds to spill if someone bumps the vehicle or forgets that it's there. DO NOT leave the windows open, the vehicle must be sealed.
Step 7: Leave the coffee grounds in the car for 48 hours.
Notes: I realize that this may not be possible for some who need their vehicle every day. If that is the case, then you will need to continue to place the grounds in the vehicle. It will take twice as long, if you continue to break the seal by using the car.