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Old 03-14-2012, 12:42 PM
vruscelli vruscelli is offline
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Default Long List of Guitar / Guitar Case Smoke and Odor Removal Methods

Hey, forum members. After having some problems with a guitar I purchased that had a smoke odor in the case (heavy odor) and guitar (moderately heavy odor), I did quite a bit of research into various remedies for removing smoke and other odors (especially removing odors from the guitar case, since those seem to be much worse in terms of retaining odors due to materials from which they are made).

Since answers to the problem of odor removal from guitars and cases were so spread out and varied over many different websites and forums (including here on the Acoustic Guitar Forum), with a lot of repetition combined with some very unique and seldom repeated suggestions, I've tried to pull together as complete a list as I could to share here.

I've used only a few of the suggested methods personally (baking soda and baking soda based carpet freshener, Ozium, fresh air and sunshine), but in the list I tried to include (and stick to) things that were suggested specifically by guitar players and members of guitar forums and discussion groups. I have also added a couple of closely related items for odor removal that I thought fit in with suggestions made by other guitar players.

If anyone has additions, deletions, criticisms, etc., please contribute. If you've got additions, I'll go back and edit the initial posts to add new suggestions. If I've added any foolish or potentially harmful suggestion, let me know (along with what should be changed) and I'll revise the first few posts as needed.

This thread could be a nice single reference for smoke and odor removal for acoustic guitars and cases, which seems to be a problem that people encounter often enough to justify putting together a good compilation of remedies.

Last edited by vruscelli; 03-18-2012 at 12:34 PM.
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Old 03-14-2012, 12:43 PM
vruscelli vruscelli is offline
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Have you ever owned or purchased an acoustic guitar or case that smelled badly of smoke or other objectionable odors? Ever wondered what kinds of products to use for removing or masking those odors?

Clean or Replace the Case? Consider the Law of Diminishing Returns: A really good or moderately expensive to very expensive guitar case is undoubtedly worth trying to salvage if permeated with foul odors. However, an inexpensive case may be more easily replaced than salvaged. Be sure to take into account the value of the case and ease/expense of replacement before putting in significant time, expense, or effort into any major odor removal project. Consider using inexpensive and simple methods first. Even a cheap case will likely be worth the investment in a box of baking soda and the time it will take to use it.

Different production materials used on the interior and exterior of cases will require different cleaning strategies and products, too. Think carefully about what you'll need to use before using it. Try mild cleaners first and work your way up if needed to more powerful or complex options. Make sure the cleaning product or method used is suitable for the material being treated. Using the wrong method or too much of a particular product could result in more of a mess than you started with.

Some odor removal substances/remedies in the following list need to be placed in small bags or pouches before use. Materials like coffee filters, pieces of fabric cut from old clothes, or even cheesecloth tied or taped shut will usually work. Homemade pouches from these materials can be lowered into a guitar's sound hole or placed in a guitar case.

This list is alphabetical for easier reference and not in order of most effective or most highly recommended.

Use any of these methods with caution and at your own risk! But if you're looking for ideas, this list should give you a bunch of them.

Air Fresheners, Self Contained -- Great for masking odors but not necessarily for absorbing or permanently removing odors. "Self contained" implies fresheners that stay in their own plastic (or other) container and slowly dispense the freshener without ever being removed from the container. Very small versions of these can be either placed inside a case or lowered by a string into an acoustic guitar body, if necessary

Air Fresheners, Spray -- Generally NOT very highly recommended. As with most spray-on remedies, be aware that you are very likely leaving at least some measure of chemical residue behind. Febreze seems to be mentioned most often for guitar case interiors and lots of people love the stuff for other uses. But the more you use such a product, the more it will likely build up in the material. If used inside a case, could those residual chemicals harm the guitar's finish? Possibly. Could use of spray freshener eventually leave a tacky accumulation in the case interior that must itself be cleaned away? Yes. It's possible that most spray air fresheners should be avoided for this reason or used only as a last resort or only minimally. If using spray fresheners, consider wiping the interior of the case at some point afterward with a damp cloth and allowing it to dry thoroughly before placing the guitar back in the case.

Baking Soda -- Highly recommended. It's cheap and great for odor absorption, especially for the interior of a smelly case and, if used cautiously, even inside the body of an acoustic guitar itself. Sprinkle a liberal amount into an odorous case (an entire boxful, if needed) and vacuum it out later or seal some in a pouch and place the pouch in the case or inside the guitar's sound hole, attached by a string or thread. For use in the case, close the case with the baking soda sprinkled inside. To help disperse the baking soda inside the case, flip the case over a couple of times and slap the top/bottom of the case a few times with your hands. Leave the case closed for a day or two (recommended time varies), then open the case and thoroughly vacuum. Check the results. Treat again if necessary. Follow the baking soda treatment with a few days of leaving the case open to air out, and consider exposing the open case to sunlight and fresh air for a while as a follow-up (a day or two or three).

It's been said that putting the closed case out in the sun while the baking soda is inside will help the baking soda do its job (possibly with the assumption that the heat releases more of odor to be absorbed by the baking soda).

It's even possible to use baking soda poured into an acoustic guitar body (as seen on the frets.com site) as long as no electronics are housed inside. Timing on this should be in conjunction with changing your guitar strings. Remove guitar strings, pour in baking soda, cover the sound hole with paper, and tape down the paper with "safe release" tape like painters tape which is easily removed and does not easily damage surfaces to which it is attached. Leave it for a day or so and then vacuum out with a hose-style vacuum, being careful not to damage the edges of the sound hole or otherwise scratch your guitar with the vacuum! Consider using an air compressor blower attachment if you've got one (or canned compressed air) to blow the powder out of nooks and crannies in the guitar body. An air compressor is also a great way to blow baking soda or other granular fresheners out of the guitar case in conjunction with vacuuming.

Carpet Cleaners, Granular -- Highly effective for guitar case interiors. Arm and Hammer Pet Fresh with OxiClean is a great choice to remove odors from a case. It's mostly baking soda with OxiClean and scents added. Use it almost exactly as described with the baking soda treatment. Sprinkle liberally in the case, allow to sit for an extended period (a day for starters and more if needed), vacuum thoroughly, and air out the case. Retreat as necessary. If the case smells a bit too scented after treatment, air it out as long as necessary or use a little bit of Ozium Air Sanitizer to eliminate the scented smell of the carpet cleaner (but don't overdo the Ozium!). There are many brands and variations of granular carpet cleaners and deodorizers that should work well for in interior of a guitar case.

Carpet Cleaners, Spray On -- Not very highly recommended but perhaps worth a try on the interior of a guitar case if all else fails. Beware of chemical residue that could be left behind.

Carpet Shampoo -- Might be worth a try inside a smelly case, but beware of anything that might leave behind a chemical residue or that requires enough water that it might activate any glue that has been used in the case.

Cedar Chips (and other aromatic wood chips or shavings) -- Cedar and other wood chips/shavings possibly absorb odors and definitely mask odors. This is a great natural solution easily deployed in small pouches in the guitar case or acoustic guitar body itself. A large bag of wood shavings can also be poured into the case, left for the desired time frame (days or even weeks, if necessary) and the later dumped out followed by vacuuming the interior of the case.

Charcoal, Activated/Carbon, Activated (as used in aquarium water filtration, etc.) -- Highly recommended. Activated carbon is also known as activated charcoal, activated coal, and carbo activalus. This kind of charcoal is generally counted as superior to standard charcoal briquettes (another option) for odor removal because standard briquettes often contain all kinds of other added ingredients. Activated carbon is more pure, odorless, and has other qualities that make it very good for odor removal/absorption. It has many uses in air and water filtration, odor control, and even in medicinal products. Readily available sources include pet shops in the aquarium section, although it will likely be cheaper via other sources. Activated carbon can be purchased in large and small quantities and often in ready-to-use, porous pouches that can be used immediately without further preparation. You can also make a do-it-yourself cloth pouch or coffee-filter pouch of activated carbon to lower into the guitar sound hole or to leave in the guitar case. Don't confuse ready-to-use pouches of activated carbon with sealed pouches that must be opened and dispensed for use. If you put an airtight (hermetically sealed) packet of activated carbon into a guitar case, it won't do a thing for you.

Activated bamboo charcoal (carbonized bamboo) is supposedly very effective at odor removal and is a variation on the activated carbon/activated charcoal concept. Ready-to-use bags of carbonized bamboo area readily available from various internet sources.

Last edited by vruscelli; 03-18-2012 at 12:49 PM.
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Old 03-14-2012, 12:44 PM
vruscelli vruscelli is offline
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Charcoal Briquettes -- Some folks use charcoal briquettes crushed or whole, typically placed in a porous pouch or other container and left in a guitar case or lowered in a pouch into a guitar body. Make a pouch from cloth or a coffee filter and tape or tie it shut. However, activated carbon (activated charcoal) is generally considered a better deodorizer and purifier and is much less messy than charcoal briquettes. Charcoal briquettes as sold in stores often contain other ingredients that make them easy to light (like added lighter fluid) but which would also mke them undesirable for use in odor removal. If using charcoal briquettes, be sure to read the package to see what they contain. Use something that is labeled as "all natural" or the like.

Coffee Grounds (fresh or, as suggested by some, leftover/used grounds)-- Fresh ground coffee with a pleasant aroma is a great way to mask over a bad smell. Some say you can use leftover coffee grounds, but why not try freshly ground coffee? Ground coffee is said to absorb odors, so it's possible that it will both mask and absorb/remove odors.

Dryer Sheets -- Drop one inside the guitar body via the sound hole or use one or two in the case to help with odors.

Essential Oils and Fragrance Oils -- A little droplet here or there could go a long way inside a guitar case and perhaps just inside the guitar's sound hole, but be cautious about long-term use of oils this way. Oil build-up in the wood of the guitar's (especially the top) is probably not a good thing. These kinds of oils could also easily stain the interior of the case, so use this method cautiously. Essential oils or fragrant oils can be applied to the contents of a sachet which can then be placed in a guitar case or lowered into the guitar body. These kinds of oils won't absorb odor, but will certainly mask and perhaps even replace existing foul odors. It's easier to live with a smell that you like than one that's offensive.

Fans -- Highly recommended, but keep humidity in mind since a fan could possibly sap moisture from the guitar body. Small or large electric fans can be used on a temporary basis to keep air circulating in and around the case or guitar. A tiny USB powered or AC powered fan (much like a computer case fan) can be used to move a lot of air in and out of a guitar's sound hole, which in itself could work wonders for the interior of the guitar for odor removal. A larger fan can be placed close to the sound hole, too, and really helps to make air flow throughout a guitar body or case. In many instances, short term or occasional use of a fan for air circulation might solve an odor problem without having to resort to other remedies.

Fresh Air -- Highly recommended. The world's best natural remedy for bad odors. Takes more time, but is often the best first step and best last step in any odor removal process. If the case smells, leave it open for as long as it takes. If the guitar smells, take it out of the case for as long as necessary. Keeping a smelly case or guitar closed up won't help get rid of the smell.

Guitar Strings, New -- It is said that guitar strings will hold on to odors, too. Changing your guitar's strings is a reasonable step to take as part of an odor removal project (it certainly couldn't hurt).

Ionic Air Purifiers -- Whether ionic purifiers (ionizers) can extract bad smells from objects like guitars and cases is debatable, but they might help. Ionizers and ozone generators are often confused with one another, but they are not the same thing (see Ozone Generators). Ionizers are relatively inexpensive while good ozone generators can be very expensive, often costing hundreds of dollars. An ionizer placed close to a guitar or case, or even a very small ionizer that can be inserted into a guitar through the sound hole, might actually do some good, but will probably not be nearly as effective as an ozone generator. If you already own or can borrow an ionic air purifier, it couldn't hurt to give it a try.

Odor Eaters -- Admittedly an odd sounding suggestion, but: The Odor Eaters brand consists of foot powder, spray, or shoe-shaped drop ins. Sprinkle powder in the case and later vacuum it out. Use Odor Eater spray inside the case? Be cautious if using the spray, but the powder could be great for removing odor from the interior of a smelly case. It would also be possible to place the shoe-shaped Odor Eaters in the case or lower one into the guitar body through the sound hole. As silly as dropping a shoe shaped odor eater into a guitar or case might sound, it might actually work, and it's certainly been suggested on more than one guitar enthusiast site.

Ozium Air Sanitizer -- Highly recommended, but use sparingly. An excellent for spray for odor elimination and very effective for smoke. Ozium spray is recommended by many for guitar case smoke odor removal. Additionally, if some scented method you have tried actually leaves too much scent in the guitar case, a bit of Ozium spray will help to reduce or eliminate that smell as well. As with any sprays, use cautiously and lightly. It takes very little Ozium spray to be effective. For a guitar case, spray a short burst into the case (no more than a couple of seconds worth) and immediately close and latch the case. Leave the case closed for a while (up to a day), then open the case and air it out. After airing out the case for a while, retreat if necessary. Will Ozium spray leave any chemical residue? Probably...so use it lightly as recommended. Consider wiping the interior of the case with a damp cloth after use, and if you wipe it down with a damp cloth be sure to let the case air dry or sit in the sun for a while to make sure no traces of moisture remain when you close the case again.

Ozone Generators -- Highly recommended by many, but an expensive option and you need to know what you're doing. These units should be used with caution as some are not suitable for use in occupied rooms, depending on the settings used and the knowledge of the user. Small ozone generators are often used to remove odors (especially smoke odors) from vehicles. Larger ozone generators are used for bigger spaces in homes and businesses. Ozone generators can also be used beyond general odor elimination but for more challenging problems like mold and mildew as well. If used in close proximity to a smelly guitar or case, an ozone generator might work wonders. One method would be to place the guitar and case in a small room (closet or bathroom or somewhere similar) with guitar free standing out of the case and the case open, then use an ozone generator according to the manufacturer's directions for the space in question. It might take only one treatment or perhaps several treatments. Ozone generators range from less than $100 USD to more than $1000 USD, so buying a good one can be a fairly expensive step to take. Ozone generators can also be rented, and you may also find a smoke remediation facility where you can bring your guitar and case for treatment. Note that ozone generators and ionizers are not the same thing, although they are often confused with one another. Do some research before taking steps involving ozone generators...but there are a lot of people who swear by ozone generators and their ability to remove odors from just about anything and their particular effectiveness in dealing with smoke odor.

Potpourri Sachets -- Another good way to mask odors with a pleasant combination of scents of your choice. Buy potpourri sachet (or spice bags) ready-made or make your own.

Rice -- Rice and other grains are supposedly good for odor absorption and represent a solution that goes way back in history. Potential methods include pouring uncooked/dry rice liberally into a case and later vacuuming it out or lowering a small pouch of uncooked into a guitar body. Sometimes a full pound or more of rice is poured in through the sound hole, shaken in the guitar, then poured and/or vacuumed out (similar to use seen on the frets.com site). Shaking the guitar with the rice inside will help remove dust and cobwebs that might be inside. Grinding rice in a coffee grinder and then sprinkling it into a guitar case or guitar body might work well to remove odors since that method would open up the rice grains for more surface area absorption potential. Use a vacuum to remove the ground rice from the case.

For a variation on the grain approach, dry oatmeal has good odor absorption properties.

The rice/grain approach is certainly a natural solution.

Soap and Water (mild) -- Highly recommended for guitar and case exteriors. A mild solution of soap/detergent and water is often recommended by manufacturers for wiping down the exterior of a guitar and case. Don't use an excessive amount of either soap or water. Be sure to wipe thoroughly until dry and all will be well.

Sunshine (and natural outdoor heat) -- Bake a smelly guitar case (opened up) in the sun for a few hours, over the course of a few days if necessary, taking it back indoors at night and being wary of rain or other moisture at all times. Use caution in-baking a guitar in sunlight for too long since you could easily do more harm than good with the heat. Fresh air in a shady spot would likely be better for a smelly guitar.

Last edited by vruscelli; 05-02-2012 at 05:48 AM.
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Old 03-14-2012, 12:56 PM
vruscelli vruscelli is offline
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Steam Cleaning -- This might be worth a try with some case interiors. Allow thorough drying afterwards before closing case again. Could this method activate glues used in the case interior and cause a real mess? It's certainly possible.

Teabags/Dry Tea Leaves -- Your favorite aroma dry tea could do the trick for you in helping to remove or mask guitar or case odors. Lower a fresh, dry teabag into the guitar sound hold or drop a couple of dry bags into the case. Dry tea is said to both absorb odor and mask odor. If you have containers of fresh tea that's not bagged, it's easy to make your own pouch with a coffee filter or piece of cloth. Dry tea sprinkled into the case and vacuumed out later might also work well.

Vinegar and Water -- Vinegar has very good natural cleaning and deodorizing power. Some recommendations include mixing vinegar and water and using a cloth or sponge dampened in the mixture to thoroughly rub down the interior and exterior of a smelly guitar case. The case should then be placed out in the sun until thoroughly dry. The vinegar smell should go away, taking with it any of the previous bad odor. For a plush case interior and fine balance must be found between getting deep enough into the pile to allow the vinegar to do its job and NOT soaking the material so much that it's difficult to dry it out.

Volcanic Deodorizer (crystallized volcanic rock or zeolite) -- Often available in pet stores as cat litter deodorizer. Variations are used in horse stalls and to eliminate other animal odors. Feed stores may also stock some form or other of volcanic deodorizer, and it's widely available on the internet under a variety of names/descriptions. It's also sold in small bags for use in places like closets, inside shoes, and even in refrigerators much the same way as baking soda is used. Pre-made, small bags of volcanic deodorizer can be recharged every few months by heating them in the sun and/or soaking in water (see seller's directions).

A Few Lightly Researched Odor Removal Spray Products That Could Be Effective With Reasonable Use -- These are sprays, so keep in mind that sprays will just about always leave some form of residue, but as a last resort for a hopelessly odorous guitar case, they might be just the thing to help.

BioWorld Odor Neutralizer -- (Potentially good, but need to research further)

MAX Smoke Eliminator -- (Potentially good, but need to research further)

OdoBan Odor Eliminator -- (Potentially good, but need to research further)

Zero Odor #00013 Odor Eliminator -- (Potentially good, but need to research further)

Last edited by vruscelli; 03-17-2012 at 12:58 PM.
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Old 03-15-2012, 04:10 PM
vruscelli vruscelli is offline
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This small fan blowing into the guitar through the sound hole has worked exceptionally well for me to remove smoke odor. If using a fan, be cautious about maintaining proper humidity since a fan might actually sap moisture from the guitar.

I'm working on a recently acquired Taylor acoustic-electric that obviously spent quite a bit of time in a smoking environment. The guitar didn't smell nearly as badly as the case, but it still had at least a moderate amount of smoke smell (although descriptions like "moderate" are going to vary according to the sensitivity of the nose of the person doing the sniffing). In any case, the guitar had an unmistakable smoke smell coming from the inside of the body.

I've been experimenting with the least intrusive methods I can think of to cure the smoke odor problem with the guitar. I've placed a packet of activated carbon in a mesh pouch in the body and have even been using a mini ionizer/air purifier inside the body as well.

I moved on to focusing on air circulation with this tiny 3x3-inch USB powered fan (a Thermaltake Mobile Fan II External USB Cooling Fan). This particular model was roughly $12 and has adjustable speed. I hung it with a couple of long, semi-heavy-duty rubber bands from the fork on the guitar stand so that it aligned with the sound hole. The front of the fan grill rests on the guitar strings, blowing air into the body. It can also be easily reversed to pull air out of the body, but I think forcing air in is more effective.

The way I see it is that normal air movement in and out of the body of a guitar is likely to be pretty slow in most circumstances, even outside of the case. This small fan has sped up the overall process of fresh air working its magic as part of smoke odor removal.



A little fan like this can be hung from the guitar stand fork in any number of ways (assuming use of a guitar stand). Given that this particular fan has a metal frame around it, I wanted to keep fan movement to a minimum so as not to chance scratching the guitar. A fan fully encased in plastic would be safer, but I didn't have one like that. I used a couple of 7-inch rubber bands to suspend the fan because I had those right at hand, and the fan weighs so little that it stretches the rubber bands only about a half inch. A single loop of string would work just as well (or better).




Last edited by vruscelli; 03-26-2012 at 07:21 AM.
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Old 03-15-2012, 10:34 PM
vruscelli vruscelli is offline
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Another little device I used to help with the smoke odor on the inside of the Taylor acoustic-electric guitar I bought (second-hand guitar with free smoke smell included) is a miniature USB Ionic Air Purifier (specifically a Daffodil UA01 model).

I was skeptical of this thing, but it actually seemed to be effective at removing some of the smoke smell. I plugged it into a USB port on my PC using a long USB cord, lowered it into the guitar body, and left it there for a few days. It seemed to me that the stale smoke odor diminished during the time I used it. Perhaps if left inside the guitar body longer, it might have been even more effective, but I wanted to move on to using the small fan shown in my previous post. (Maybe I should be using both at once.)

I've got the feeling that for someone who used a guitar frequently in a smoky environment, regular use of one of these things would help to keep the odor from permeating the interior wood of the guitar.

This was a less than $7 investment via Amazon.com (variations available elsewhere, too), so I figured it couldn't hurt to see if it helped the guitar. This device is designed to plug right into a USB port in the computer. To use something like this inside a guitar, you need to have a USB cord long enough to stretch from a computer to the guitar and a USB adapter to connect the device to the end of the USB cord. In this case I had to use a USB A female to B female adapter (the little light gray piece) to allow the cord to be connected to the USB air purifier. I could have also used an AC adapter for a USB cord (like used to charge iPhones from a wall outlet) so it could be plugged in to a wall outlet rather than a PC...but I still would have needed and the appropriate adapter to connect the device to the USB cord. The configuration probably sounds confusing (I suppose), but I personally have so many USB cables and adapters as spares that it was easy for me to find the right connectors.


Last edited by vruscelli; 03-17-2012 at 12:32 AM.
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Old 03-16-2012, 06:16 AM
CrankyChris CrankyChris is offline
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Best documentation ever! Good job.
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Old 03-16-2012, 08:22 AM
vruscelli vruscelli is offline
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Thanks, Chris.

I'm hoping other folks will add extra ideas as time goes by, and maybe this list can really be fleshed out (eventually)...but I think it's a pretty good start.
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Old 03-16-2012, 10:03 AM
mstuartev mstuartev is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vruscelli View Post
Thanks, Chris.

I'm hoping other folks will add extra ideas as time goes by, and maybe this list can really be fleshed out (eventually)...but I think it's a pretty good start.
I used cedar chips. I found some at a pet supply shot, used for bedding in pet cages. I actually just dumped or half filled the case with the chip and shut the case for a few weeks. Then I dump them out and vacuum. I think it did a pretty good job.
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Old 03-16-2012, 04:41 PM
vruscelli vruscelli is offline
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mstuartev, thanks for chiming in about the cedar chips! It's good to hear that it actually helped.
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Old 03-17-2012, 01:54 AM
vruscelli vruscelli is offline
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Here's what I did to remove the smoke smell from a Taylor guitar case that pretty much reeked of smoke when I first got it.

After reading about how well baking soda worked well for some people to treat smelly guitar cases, I decided to try Arm and Hammer Pet Fresh with OxiClean.

Pet Fresh is labeled as a carpet odor eliminator with Oxi Clean, and is mostly baking soda with some extra things added for scent and cleaning power. Most any grocery store will have this stuff (or Walmart or wherever). It comes in 2 lb boxes for something like $5 (or less) per box. I sprinkled about 1/8th of a box all throughout the case then shut it up tight for about a day. To make sure the powder got spread evenly throughout the plush interior of the case, I turned the case upside down and more or less beat it like a drum with my hands, then flipped it back over and did the same thing. This "drum beating" really does a good job of thoroughly dispersing the powder inside the case.

After a day, I opened the case and vacuumed it out (I like using a shop vac for this kind of thing and it obviously takes some kind of hose vacuum for this kine of job). I let the case air out for a day, then repeated the Arm and Hammer Pet Fresh treatment. Remarkably, all of the smoke smell seemed to be gone. However, I found that there was a bit too much "flowery" smell from the Arm and Hammer Pet Fresh, so I had to take a couple of extra steps to bring down that flowery smell

I used the next two or three sunny days to air out the case and let it bake in the sun for most of each day.

After the Pet Fresh and outdoor air/sunshine treatment, I sprayed a small blast (a couple of seconds worth) of Ozium Air Sanitizer into the case to help remove the last of the smell of the Pet Fresh (and any remaining smoke smell that might have been underlying the Pet Fresh fragrance) and closed the case up for a another day...that is, quickly closing the case after spraying a bit of the Ozium into it. After that, I opened the case and let it generally air out again for a significant amount of time -- leaving it open all the time for several days of air treatment.

After several days of leaving the case open, I could smell almost nothing in the case. No smoke, no smell of Carpet Fresh, no smell of the Ozium spray (the smell of the Ozium spray is very short lived). I even had my 10-year-old daughter (whose sense of smell is much better than mine) sniff the case a couple of times during this process and tell me if she smelled any of the former smoke smell at all -- and even she smelled none of it now. After the first Pet Fresh treatment, she said she still smelled a little smoke, and that's why I treated it twice with the Pet Fresh.

One note about using Pet Fresh or baking soda is that if you have a plush case interior, this stuff really gets down into the interior material (probably a big part of why it works so well). I had to vacuum several times and I'd still see grains of the powder once in a while after handling the case, opening and closing it, etc. But, it's much better to have to do a few follow-up vacuumings than tolerate a foul odor.


Last edited by vruscelli; 03-22-2012 at 05:42 PM.
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Old 03-26-2012, 08:43 AM
vruscelli vruscelli is offline
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Here's another method I used to help eliminate the smoke smell inside the Taylor guitar I bought on the used market.

I've kept several freshwater aquariums over the years, so I've always got activated carbon in some form or other for water filtration. I used a couple of filter packets to make pouches to use inside the guitar and case.

The filter pouches I used were ones I had on hand and were bigger than I'd likely recommend, but they're very flexible and it was easy to slip one in (or out) of the guitar body. I taped them shut with regular masking tape after dumping the carbon into the mesh filter. If using this method, it's a good idea to rinse the carbon filled pouch and let it dry first to remove any really fine carbon dust that might work their way out of the packet an into the guitar or case (rinse the pouch full of carbon thoroughly, let it dry thoroughly, then place it in the guitar body or case). Pouches like these are easy to remove from the guitar body with fingertips, tweezers or forceps (or via a string attached to the pouch).

This is a case of making my own pouches, but ready-to-use activated carbon pouches can be bought from many sources for lots of different odor removal uses (for instance, Amazon has many variations available).

Activated carbon has great odor removal properties and is well worth considering for guitar or case odor removal.






Last edited by vruscelli; 03-26-2012 at 09:41 AM.
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Old 03-26-2012, 09:08 AM
JRB JRB is offline
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Excellent topic. Right now I have a case sitting open outside in the sun, combined with a box of baking soda sprinkled liberally inside. The case sat in water at some point and really stinks of mildew.
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Old 03-26-2012, 10:06 AM
vruscelli vruscelli is offline
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JRB, it would be great if you could report back at some point and let us know if that technique works in the particular case (especially over the long haul). If you've actually got mold or mildew related odor in the case, it might take more extreme measures to kill the spores so that there's less of a chance of the smell coming back again later.

I think if you bake it in the sun and dry the case out really thoroughly (along with the baking soda), it's going to help tremendously. But one concern in the long run might be that once the case is back in a more climate controlled environment (especially if you might be using a humidifier) that the mold or mildew spores could be reactivated by humidity and the cycle could start all over again.

If the mold or mildew spores are deep within the case's interior material, it might end up being an ongoing or recurring issue. I mean, I'm just partially guessing here...but based on other areas where mold and mildew treatment is discussed. Usually, remedies in instances like this are found by re-wetting the material but with something in the liquid that's used to kill mold or mildew spores, then thoroughly drying the item again. Something like this would also be a very likely candidate for treatment with an ozone generator (but for most folks, that's not really a practical route).
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Old 03-26-2012, 10:42 AM
JRB JRB is offline
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The case is somewhere around 60-70 years old, and I don't know when the damage occurred. I'd try something like water with a little bit of bleach in it but I don't want to damage the appearance of the lining.
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