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Getting a fish smell out of the car
Old 01-01-2017, 03:22 PM   #1
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Getting a fish smell out of the car

So, DD did a favor for her mother, and took a garbage bag of remains from last night's food fest out of our trashcan, intending to take it to a dumpster. It was full of crab and lobster shells, the garage was already beginning to stink up and collection isn't until the weekend.

Sure enough, she put it in the trunk and left it there for a couple of hours in the nice South Fl sun, now DW's car smells like a fish market. Any suggestions how to remove that smell?
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Old 01-01-2017, 03:25 PM   #2
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My only suggestion would be to leave the trunk open with a fan blowing into it.
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Old 01-01-2017, 03:32 PM   #3
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Borrow the neighbor's cat and put it in the trunk for a few hours... probably skip the hot sun part though. OTOH I see that you wanted to 'remove' the smell rather than just 'mask' it. So maybe newspaper in the trunk and then baking soda spread all over it - then repeat as needed.
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Old 01-01-2017, 03:42 PM   #4
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If the bag is intact and did not leak "fish juice" into the carpet you should be fine just airing out.
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Old 01-01-2017, 03:53 PM   #5
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Try putting a pan of activated charcoal in the trunk. Even charcoal briquettes. We once bought a used fridge to put out in the cabana that had been unplugged for awhile. The odor was almost overwhelming. I put some activated charcoal in it and before long the smell was entirely eliminated.
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Old 01-01-2017, 03:53 PM   #6
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If the fish juice did get into the trunk carpet, is the trunk liner removable? Ours is. When Mr. A. spilled gasoline on it, and the car was uninhabitable due to gasoline fumes, I removed the trunk liner and scrubbed the carpet with dish soap and a scrubbing brush, rinsing it several times with the hose. Then I soaked it in baking soda solution and rinsed that off. Left the liner out in the sun and air to dry. Most of the smell was gone. Good luck!
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Old 01-01-2017, 03:57 PM   #7
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Try driving around for several days to a week with the windows wide open. Don't ask me how I know.

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P.S.: If that doesn't work, see what your local car wash can do for you in the way of odor absorbers and more pleasant scents.
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Old 01-01-2017, 03:59 PM   #8
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As a last resort a good professional car wash should be adept at getting it out. I had a bottle of red wine explode in the back seat on one of the hottest days MN has ever had. They got the stain and the smell out perfectly--I was impressed and so thankful!
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Old 01-01-2017, 04:38 PM   #9
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No solution, but permit an aside with a related story, circa 1965, when we lived on Cape Cod.
It was one of those periods when the local fishermen were going through a slowdown and the markets and restaurants on the Cape were hurting and paying big dollars for fresh fish.
Three of my brother-in-laws hired out a sport fishing boat to go out for Cod. To be sure they hedged their dreams of making a killing, by first going to several restaurants to be sure that the market for this popular fish was strong.
Starting out early in the morning... fishing with rods, not nets, they had instant success, and by the end of the day, had caught about 350 lbs of cod. The schools had come in to the bay, and fishing was phenomenal.
They loaded the fish in to the trunk of their mom's brand new Mercury convertible... (lining it with plastic).
What was expected to be one quick stop, to unload at the first restaurant, and then go home, turned out to be a three hour ordeal... with every promised sale falling through, as the professional fishermen were ahead of them.
The eventual resolution came as they ended up back home in Pawtucket... still with 350 lbs. of now aging cod, and neighbors only taking about 10 pounds.
A trip to the "sand banks" and a deep shoveled hole, and the fish were laid to rest.
Unfortunately, the plastic lining wasn't sufficient to keep the rotting fish juice from soaking the lining of the trunk... The 6 month old car made a trip to an upholsterer and received a complete relining at a cost I can't recall, but certainly more than the investment the BIL's had made in their entrepreneurial adventure.

A lesson in going after the "fast buck".
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Old 01-01-2017, 04:44 PM   #10
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If simpler suggestions don't work (I'd try activated charcoal first, with a fan to circulate the air around a lot inside the car), the "gold standard" for professional odor removal is ozone treatment. This uses a device that puts out ozone which reacts with/neutralizes the odor-causing compounds. It is used by hotels to eliminate cigarette smoke smell, etc.
You may be able to rent an ozone generator from a big tool rental place, or take the vehicle to a good detail shop for the treatment. It will take several hours or overnight. The ozone itself probably isn't great for plastics and rubber, but a one-time treatment for a big problem like this is probably worth it. I used this to get rid of a moldy smell in a vehicle that had been wet inside, it worked well. I see that some smaller ozone generators are available online for less than $100, but I don't know how it would be possible to validate their actual output.
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Old 01-01-2017, 04:55 PM   #11
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Go buy a couple of boxes of Baking Soda. Open them partially and leave in the trunk. If there was some that leaked out clean well with a carpet cleaner then sprinkle Baking Soda on the area. Repeat and eventually you can vacuum the carpet in the trunk.
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Old 01-01-2017, 05:57 PM   #12
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charcoal?
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Old 01-01-2017, 06:17 PM   #13
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A late friend of mine told me a trick of getting bad odors out by laying out some fabric softener sheets out. No guarantee but worth trying over night.
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Old 01-01-2017, 06:17 PM   #14
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Recycle dryer sheets

Just kidding about the recycling.

Open a box of dryer sheets, spread them in the trunk.

Can throw a few on the floor in the back too.
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Old 01-01-2017, 06:22 PM   #15
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The activated charcoal and baking soda sound like good ideas. When I accidentally left a container of crab (the refrigerated type) in my trunk for a few days, I put kitty litter in a box in the trunk because it was handy. Also opened trunk door and windows to air it out and scrubbed down the trunk carpet. And sprayed with Febreeze.
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Old 01-01-2017, 06:33 PM   #16
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Go to your local fish/sea food store and ask them. This can't be the first time it's happened so they would probably know.
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Old 01-01-2017, 06:36 PM   #17
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Second the Febreeze. Cats not cars here...
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Old 01-01-2017, 07:43 PM   #18
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Is it fully insured? Leave the keys in it while parked in a bad part of town and take a mulligan.
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Old 01-01-2017, 08:32 PM   #19
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similar fish story w/ salmon belly juices and herring dripped into a rental car trunk.
Rinsed rugs w/ best effort and water; then used Febreeze. Evidently worked well enough not to be noticed.
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Old 01-01-2017, 09:15 PM   #20
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Try either or both of these:
1) put a dish of used coffee grounds in the trunk for a day
2) put a dish of white vinegar in the trunk for a day

Both of these have worked for me to absorb dead rodent trapped in a wall odors.
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