Removing unpleasant odors from gear

wasn’t sure if I should post this in an existing thread, so I made a new one hope that’s okay! anyways, i was wondering if anyone on here has any good recommendations for getting unwanted smells out of music equipment/electronics?

me and my partner had the misfortune of a dead squirrel under the floorboards in our last apartment and an uncooperative landlord who waited until we had to break our lease and leave to solve the problem, and now most of my stuff smells… well, pretty horrible! specifically patch cables, power supplies, and also my sampler.

tried spraying them with an alcohol-based disinfectant and OdoBan a few times as well as stuffing things with dryer sheets but it seems like these methods have only been effective on certain things. I’ve read that baking soda and/or coffee grounds can help, so that’s next.

appreciate any and all tips you folks may have. thanks!

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Not sure how effective it would be on electronics, but my go-to for removing smells from a space has always been Ozium, and it usually works pretty damn well. I feel like it might leave residue on surfaces if you were to apply too much at too close a distance.

I’ve also found that once I ensure the source of a smell is completely removed from an object, leaving it outside in the hot sun in open space usually does some work towards getting the smells out. It seems like the key is both heat and open air, the heat releases the smell and the open air ensures the smell doesn’t just sit around the object. This is all anecdotal, I have no idea if this is actually a reliable method of removing smells or if I’m just crazy.

What a bummer :frowning:

I would also recommend some kind of enzyme cleaner–these tend to not smell very great but I’ve had good luck with them on cleaning carpet exposed to dog excrement and fermented beverage spills.

I got a used module once that reeked of cologne or perfume. I left it out in the bright sun for an afternoon for a few hours for a few days. Can’t remember how long, but that did the trick.

I recently bought a Tascam 424mkii in great condition from ebay, but when it arrived it had the worst cigarette smell I’ve ever encountered. The poor thing must have sat in an unventilated space where smokers smoked for years.

What helped me was Sunlight, Fresh Air, Simple Green, and Baking Soda.

I set it by a window that gets lots of direct sunlight all day. I opened the windows. I must have left it there all day for a week.

While it was sunning, I took a damp cloth and sprinkled some Baking Soda on it, and then used that to carefully wipe all the surfaces of the machine. This left a grainy baking soda residue on the machine that I left on it for a couple days, since I figured that would help soak up some of the smell.

After sunning and baking sodaing, I used a damp cloth to wipe off the baking soda. I still had some smell coming from buttons, knobs, and other hard to clean spots. So I took some Q-Tips, dipped them in Simple Green, and cleaned every nook and cranny I could find. I ended up doing that multiple times.

After all that, my machine is now virtually smell-free.

In my case I was cleaning off that residue that gets left after years of smoking indoors. It sounds like you’re not dealing with that kind of odour, so maybe just some Baking Soda and Sunlight will do the trick?

Ultraviolet light and ozone can literally shred those smelly organic molecules. If you are lacking fresh air and sunlight at your latitude, you could always place the gear in an enclosed space with a negative ion generator (or “ionic breeze”-style purifier). Ozone is really bad for your lungs tho, m’kay, so don’t do this without ventilation.

thanks for all the replies, everybody! the sunlight thing isn’t something i’d considered yet, but leaving them out in the garage with air circulating did seem to help with some things (including fabrics), so leaving them outside for a while asap will probably be the next treatment if the baking soda proves to not be effective enough. once all is said and done, i will try and provide an update here about what worked best!

I’m dealing with somewhat similar dead thing problem right now…

My partner recommended placing the items in an enclosed space along with large yogurt container worth of charcoal. Cheap plain barbecue charcoal with no additives (I.e avoid the stuff which is self/easy to lite). This trick was used to remove smoke smell from the interior of a car - took about a week.

Maybe try diffusing essential oil in the place where your instruments rest.
I think it can be good for kill the unpleasant odors.

for cables, i’ve had success diluting vinegar in water and wiping the cables down with it.

This worked for me: I bought a bass that, even after dismantling and cleaning off the gig residue, still smelled the wrong kind of funky. A little lavender oil on a piece of kitchen roll in the case helped.

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Great topic, sorry to hear about the tragic story :chipmunk::coffin:.

Now I started thinking how might I add pleasant odors to my gear… :thinking:


I don’t have any technical advice but I often listen to some jazz to make it more of a pleasure, I was cleaning windows this weekend to grant green - idle moments and freddie hubbard - body and soul, miles at fillmore can also work more intense cleaning activities

I’d second the use of an ozone machine in a small enclosed space, like a closet. Alternating with leaving out in the sun. So put out in the day, then set up at night to run for a couple hours. Note that you should not breathe the air of ozone machines for extended periods, so whatever room you use if you’re going to run it for a bit needs to be undisturbed while running. You can get machines with timers as well.

Dawn detergent and distilled water can go a long way too for cleaning.

Just a reminder, alcohol with plastics and rubber (even synthetic rubbers) are not a good match. It can degrade. Quick wipes and/or diluted with water are usually ok, but I wouldn’t go too heavy that route. Cleaners made specific for the thing you’re cleaning are best. Also, be aware most eco cleaners use citric acid as the main cleaning ingredient. This can bleach or fade things with heavy use.

i had noticed the discoloration with citric acid-based cleaners as well but forgot to mention it.

i appreciate the continued responses to this thread, it’s great to have plenty of extra options worth considering when dealing with something like this!

and @Test2 those are also good recommendations, would probably make this whole process a bit less morose than listening to the Silent Hill 2 soundtrack on repeat while cleaning everything like i’ve been doing the last few weeks lol

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