I acquired a used kit which has a lingering and unpleasant smell of
stale tobacco smoke. Can anyone suggest cleaning solutions that will
remove the tars and nicotine deposits from the styrene in one pass,
without damaging the plastic? I'm not above submerging the whole thing
ina bucket of Mr. Clean, if that's what it takes.
Mark Schynert wrote in
Most of the time when I run across these stinkers the smell is trapped in
the paper products - box, instructions. Styrene isn't porous so residue
would have to be grunged on the surface. I used to smoke and I can't
imagine that an unbuilt kit (the plastic part inside), being so exposed
to ciggy smoke as to leave deposits. The guy would have to be huffing on
or around the open box for a good long while.
Usually the box odor fades somewhat with time, leaving the box out in the
fresh air helps. I think you might even be able to sprtiz the box with
something like Fabreeze to really fix it up.
Of course washing a kit is a good idea no matter what.
I have a similar with some of the military uniforms I've acquired over time.
Some came from collectors that smoked but many still had smoke odor in them
from 50-75, even 100 years ago. You'd be surprised how long those odors can
linget in cotton and wool that has been packed away (and paper, as well, I'm
Even dry cleaning doesn't remove the smell all that effectively. The way I
make them as tolerable as possible is to hang them outside when there's a bit
of sun and a pretty good breeze blowing. that seems to freshen them and reduce
the odor to a tolerable level. You couold try putting the box outside on a
moderately breezy day and see what happens.
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Febreze is really great at getting stinks out of fabric- keep it away from
decals, though. Re brown gunk from smokers- a long time ago my sister moved
into a house very quickly (last weekend of the month and had to be out of
her old one on the 1st)- there were shuttered windows on either side of the
fireplace. I opened them and there was brown nicotine goo on them thick
enough to scrape off with a fingernail. Had to use straight ammonia on them
to get them clean. Must be a lot like a London underground car. Sorry, all
my Brit pals, but living in a state with a NO SMOKING sign posted at the
Colorado River get you used to smokeless air. That way you can appreciate
the subtle bouquet and complex overtones of the smog-
Soak in hot water and dish soap for starters. After washing and allowing to dry
give it the sniff test. I'm pretty sure it'll pass. If not, try any spray
cleaner or indeed your bucket of Mr. Clean solution. That should take care of
it. Your box however, is another problem. You'll probably have to leave that
out in the open air for several months. I like the Febreeze idea but since it's
a liquid it might ruin the paper. Wanna test and let us know? If it's a
valuable box, get some cedar chips from the pet store and bury the box inside a
sealed plastic container for a month. Nothing beats cedar!
The Keeper (of too much crap!)
I think the problem is
1. he can't stand the smell of the thing to work on it
2. the nicotine would keep the paints from adhering
I've seen stuff that's been in a house where the occupants smoked
constantly. It's a sickly brownish colour.
Bill Banaszak, MFE
To be chemically correct it's probably tar rather than nicotine. I think
other people's advice about alcohol or even plain old soap should do the
job (those are standard for removing water non-soluble organic compounds).
No box, as it happens, just a Zip Loc that has since been tossed. The
decals don't seem to be a problem, fortunately--I think they were sealed
up separately. Well, it's off to rub on the isopropyl, and then a Mr.
Clean solution awaits!
Thanks to all.