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Thread: Get the Smell Out

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
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    Catskill Mountains, NY
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    Default Get the Smell Out

    Someone posted a question about getting the musty smell out of a uke. I turned to Google, and here's a summary of suggestions - mostly for guitars, but the same principle applies.

    Murphys Oil Soap and a sponge. Dilute the soap a bit and get to cleaning.
    Tea tree oil
    UV light
    Leave the case outside in the sun for a few days. Leave a fan blowing directly at it to circulate air over it.
    Baking soda. Sprinkle in and vacuum or leave in shallow tray.
    Cedar or pine chips
    Coffee - whole beans or ground - not used coffee grounds
    White rice sprinkled or in a sachet bag
    Dried oregano
    Vanilla extract

    Potato - baking type cut lengthwise
    Activated charcoal, the kind used in aquariums. Put it in some kind of porous bag.
    Lemon oil. Sprinkle on a rag and leave in case or guitar sound hole.
    Distilled white vinegar.
    Febreze unscented - of questionable value
    Apple core
    Quarter an apple. Place one quarter in either end of the case. Close lid.
    Fresh air and sunshine
    Pound or two of rice, dry. Put it in the soundhole, shake it around, leave it for a day, vacuum it out.
    Cedar chips

    Fragrant sachet of coffee grounds removes almost all odors. Once the bad smell is gone, substitute mahogany sawdust for that great out-of-the-case experience.
    Arm and Hammer baking soda
    Vinegar and water
    Dry tea bags
    Odor Eaters
    Volcanic Deodorizer - sold in pet stores
    BioWorld Odor Neutralizer
    MAX Smoke Eliminator
    OdoBan Odor Eliminator
    Zero Odor #00013 Odor Eliminator
    Skunk Off
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
    https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    MN metro area
    Posts
    1,623

    Default

    I don't have a smelly uke but I do have a smelly case. I'd be interested in hearing what method noted above actually worked for someone who actually used it first hand and found that it worked for them. I won't spray any kind of chemical or perfumed air freshener type thing in there for fear of how it might interact with the finish of the uke.

    I tried the method of having air blow directly into the case by placing the opened case over one of our heating vents and letting it sit there for 3 day. It helped in the short term but once the case was closed again for a few days, the smell returned. Fortunately the smell isn't strong enough to impart the scent to the uke. At least not yet.
    Money can't buy happiness but it can buy a uke which is basically the same thing.

    Ukes are a lot like potato chips. It's hard to stop with just one!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Posts
    890

    Default

    An easier option (which takes some forethought) is not to have so many instruments that you cannot play them and they sit in cases mouldering in neglect. I know it is easier said than done.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Flanders, New Jersey
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    762

    Default

    Frank Ford at Frets.com knows all and has an enormous page with detailed instructions. I have spent many, many hours learning from his experience.


    http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Luth...riceclean.html


    Scooter
    Tenor Koa Fluke (rosewood fretboard, Pegheds)
    Concert Tie-Dye Flea (rosewood fretboard, Lucy's tuners)
    Soprano Firefly (walnut fretboard, Pegheds)
    Late 40's Martin Style 1 soprano
    Concert Oscar Schmidt Mousekulele
    Tenor Mainland Mahogany Slothead
    Concert Eddy Finn Moon and Stars

    "The way I see it as soon as a baby is born, he should be issued a Ukulele."
    ~Linus Van Pelt~

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Sparta, Wisconsin, USA
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    1,762

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ScooterD35 View Post
    Frank Ford at Frets.com knows all and has an enormous page with detailed instructions. I have spent many, many hours learning from his experience.


    http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Luth...riceclean.html


    Scooter
    Great resource. Thanks for posting it.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don’t begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    —Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mikelz777 View Post
    I don't have a smelly uke but I do have a smelly case. I'd be interested in hearing what method noted above actually worked for someone who actually used it first hand and found that it worked for them. I won't spray any kind of chemical or perfumed air freshener type thing in there for fear of how it might interact with the finish of the uke.

    I tried the method of having air blow directly into the case by placing the opened case over one of our heating vents and letting it sit there for 3 day. It helped in the short term but once the case was closed again for a few days, the smell returned. Fortunately the smell isn't strong enough to impart the scent to the uke. At least not yet.
    I have this problem with one case. The less expensive Chinese made ones use the adhesive from hell. I've left it out for days, but like you, the smell comes back when you close it up.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    3,476

    Default

    I have a Tuba which I got from a store, second hand. When I got it, its giant case had a musty smell (not unlike urine, groan). So I crammed it full of newspapers and locked it up for a long time. Then, after taking out the yucky newspapers, I loaded it up with a bunch of those little deodorizer packets that we all get in packages, etc. I had quite a few and added more later. When I finally opened it up, the smell was gone.

    Then, with still more packets from time to time, I stored it away in the garage. Now, only the tuba music smells.
    Kala "Spalted" baritone - Lo D GBE - Finger style
    Gold Tone “Mini” Travel banjo - Steel GCEA - Noodling
    Luna “Peace” concert - CGBD Plectrum music

    Kala tenor eight string - gGcCEEAA Strum

    Flea "Red" concert - Hi-G CEA - Wall hanger
    Kala "Exotic Mahogany" soprano - Hi-A DF#B Wall hanger
    Mahalo yellow "Smiley" soprano - Wall hanger
    Ka-Lai Pineapple soprano (old) gift - Bookshelf

    God gave us old age so we wouldn't mind dying so much.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Catskill Mountains, NY
    Posts
    5,311

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Down Up Dick View Post
    ...a musty smell (not unlike urine, groan).
    It could have been worse.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
    https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    PNW
    Posts
    1,228

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ScooterD35 View Post
    Frank Ford at Frets.com knows all and has an enormous page with detailed instructions. I have spent many, many hours learning from his experience.


    http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Luth...riceclean.html

    Scooter
    I had a smelly uke and put the rice and baking soda in at the same time, so I only had to clean it out once. It worked great, but the smell was cigarette smoke, not mildew

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ScooterD35 View Post
    Frank Ford at Frets.com knows all and has an enormous page with detailed instructions. I have spent many, many hours learning from his experience.


    http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Luth...riceclean.html


    Scooter
    I have used Frank's "Rice Trick" several times on ukuleles over 70 years old that reeked of cigerette smoke inside. What a incredible difference it made. The first time I did it with a particular ukulele, the rice went in white and came out dark grey. Then each time I would do it it would be a little better. After four treatments, the ukulele was clean inside with no smell. Frank Ford is amazing (and a really nice guy).

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