A rather common application for ozone machines, whether rentals or purchases, is deodorizing automobiles. Whether you are dealing with cigarette smoke, mold/mildew smell, spoiled milk, or whatever – ozone has a good track record of eliminating these odors if you follow a few standard procedures.
Step 1: Prepare for Treatment
The same as with any ozone treatment, always start here: clean up the source of the smell! If you are dealing with mold, assess the problem and clean the affected areas with a mold inhibitor if possible. If you had rodent problems, remove any nests, dead animals, and fecal/urine matter you can find. If the source of the odor is a spill on the carpet or upholstery, shampoo the affected areas or wash them off.
Step 2: Setup the Ozone Generator
At that point, you are then ready to use your ozone generator. Depending on the type of generator you are using, there are several strategies you could take. For many small generators (such as our OMZ-3400), it is often easiest to set the generator inside the vehicle, open a window just far enough to slip an extension cord in, plug-in the unit and turn the ozone on.
If you are using a generator that has round end caps (such as the OMZ-3600-HFT and up), you have the ability to hook a standard dryer vent tube up to the output of the generator and pipe the ozone into the vehicle. This generally requires that the user find some way to plug up the rest of the window, since running a dryer tube generally requires a large gap in the window (see the image below as an example, where foam packaging sheets have been used).
Step 3: The Ozone Treatment
Once or twice throughout the course of the ozone treatment it is advisable to turn the vehicle on, set the car’s ventilation system to re-circulate, and run the fans for about 15 minutes at a time. This pulls ozone through the heating/cooling ducts to deodorize those areas. If instead you know that the odor is originating somewhere within the ventilation system, you may need to run the fans longer (or more often) to effectively remove the smell. If your car batteries can handle the job, you may be able to run the fans while the car remains off – but that will vary by vehicle.
Once the ozone in running, the total time necessary depends on the type of odor, the severity of the odor, the size of the vehicle, and a variety of other factors. In essence, each case is a little different. You may want to stop the process after 8 hours to check your progress – turn off the generator, let the vehicle air out, and give the interior a “sniff” test to see if the original odor has been affected. Perhaps the treatment will be finished, perhaps you can continue with a lesser amount of ozone (turn the dial down) or perhaps you’ll need to run it for another day or more at full output.
Step 4: Post-Treatment “Residual Ozone Smell”
In some instances, ozone treatments in confined spaces can lead to what’s known as “residual ozone smell”. This is a smell that you’ll recognize as similar to ozone, but is actually leftovers (by-products) from the ozone reactions. Usually this occurs as by-products collect on soft surfaces (fabrics and carpets) during treatment, but it is a temporary odor and will go away in time. To speed things up, you can try the following:
- Let the car air out: go for a ride with the windows down, park in garage with the windows down
- Wipe down dash, seats, etc with a damp rag
- Vacuum carpets
Keep in mind that both ozone and carbon monoxide (exhaust fumes) can be dangerous in enclosed areas. If you are going to be ozone-treating your car while it is parked in a garage, remember to open the garage door when you need to run the vehicle. Ozone may also drift out of the vehicle into the surrounding areas, so take proper ozone safety precautions.