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Old 29.08.2011, 15:31
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Help?! How to remove a "motel smell" from apartment?

Hi everyone - I'm hoping someone has had a similar problem and can suggest a remedy. We moved into a new apartment a month ago, and it had been empty for at least two months before that. We love the place, but there's a problem: it smells like a motel room. We thought the odor would dissipate over time, but it hasn't really. Our theory is that the previous tenant was a smoker and used some sort of industrial-strength odor remover of the sort used in hotels. (There isn't any discernable smoker or animal smell. There is no carpet and the apartment was unfurnished. It was not repainted when we moved in, as the previous tenant had lived there for less than a year and it was repainted before she moved in.) We already leave the windows open as much as possible, it doesn't seem to help. Any advice for products available in Switzerland and/or home remedies?
Thanks!
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Old 29.08.2011, 15:38
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Re: Help?! How to remove a "motel smell" from apartment?

You could try an air cleaner machine, which can be bought at places like Fust or MediaMarkt. The one we have is used by filling it with water, and it works REALLY well (even in our huge bedroom). We especially like it during the winter when windows are closed. It makes the air so much less "stale."

Unfortunately, though, they can be a bit expensive (but what ISN'T expensive in Switzerland???)

Also, I suggest washing all the floors, kitchen, bathrooms, etc. really well. If you use a vinegar solution to clean, that should help eliminate a lot of odors (and the vinegar smell will evaporate quickly).

Good luck.
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Old 29.08.2011, 15:41
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Re: Help?! How to remove a "motel smell" from apartment?

these are used to eliminate bad smells:

white vinegar
coffee
fresh onion sliced

all you have to do is place some in the room overnight

or you can use febreze

do you have a carpet? this may be the problem, once thy smell they probably need replacing
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Old 29.08.2011, 15:46
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Re: Help?! How to remove a "motel smell" from apartment?

buy a few bottles of febreeze and spray everything.
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Old 29.08.2011, 17:46
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Re: Help?! How to remove a "motel smell" from apartment?

I'd have a look under the floors, if I were you.
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Old 29.08.2011, 17:48
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Re: Help?! How to remove a "motel smell" from apartment?

Could possibly be damp? are there any closed off cupboards etc?

Last edited by grumpygit; 29.08.2011 at 17:50. Reason: the other comment was glib and uncalled for...soz
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Old 29.08.2011, 21:01
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Re: Help?! How to remove a "motel smell" from apartment?

try a few lemons, have they cut in half and place it in the room.. That also work for nasty smell in the fridge.

another one to try is burn some incense.. or candle but remember to keep watch over it to prevent fire!
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Old 29.08.2011, 22:12
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Re: Help?! How to remove a "motel smell" from apartment?

What sort of motel room smell? - the one you rent by the hour or like a five star?

How about throwing a big EF party, and I promise you there will me no motel room smell left (or anything else for that matter)...
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Old 29.08.2011, 22:23
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Re: Help?! How to remove a "motel smell" from apartment?

Given that it's been recently painted, could it just be the 'new paint' smell ?
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Old 29.08.2011, 22:34
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Re: Help?! How to remove a "motel smell" from apartment?

Wipe everything (walls, floors, cupboards, doors etc) down with a mild solution of bleach and water and also wash the windows. This will not mask the smell bit kill it for good!
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Old 29.08.2011, 23:10
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Re: Help?! How to remove a "motel smell" from apartment?

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How about throwing a big EF party, and I promise you there will me no motel room smell left (or anything else for that matter)...
Fondue helps. Always. Raclette too.
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Old 29.08.2011, 23:18
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Re: Help?! How to remove a "motel smell" from apartment?

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these are used to eliminate bad smells:

white vinegar
coffee
fresh onion sliced

all you have to do is place some in the room overnight

or you can use febreze

do you have a carpet? this may be the problem, once thy smell they probably need replacing
OP did write "there is no carpet"
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Old 30.08.2011, 00:37
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Re: Help?! How to remove a "motel smell" from apartment?

Burn Myrrhe: it's been used for Millenia as a purifying incense. I burn a little after cleaning my apartment and it holds a delightful aroma. 100g will last a few years and can be found in spice stores, fancy pharmacies, speciality markets and hippy dippy type stores. The small charcoals often used with Turkish style water pipes are usually found in the same places.

A few pellets will turn your motel into a palace fit for Gods.
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Old 30.08.2011, 00:40
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Re: Help?! How to remove a "motel smell" from apartment?

Have you checked out the filter in your oven extractor fan? This can hold nasty smells!
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Old 30.08.2011, 01:15
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Re: Help?! How to remove a "motel smell" from apartment?

How old of an apartment is it? Some of the old ones, where I have lived, the apartment is freshly cleaned, but you can't remove the smoking neighbor who's fumes some how make it thru the ventilation, the walls sockets, and beneath the doors.
Also, have a look under the sink in the back against the wall. Often times end of contract cleaners and inspectors miss that area, and a sort of fungus can grow back there, giving a funky smell, but not a rotting one. If there is a fungus growing there, be sure to clean it with elbow length rubber gloves, and an air mask, TRUST ME.
One thing that works real well is baking soda...buy it in packets at Coop or Migros, take a plate out and pour out the powder on plates and leave in every room. The powder absorbs oders, and it works like a charm to take out odor smells from the freezer and fridge too.
The onion thing works as well, even whole, peeled ones, except they often have the effect of giving off another smell as well.

Lemon juice, like a 1/4 of a cup, down the drains will help kill odors and bacteria, and smells nice in the morning.

That's my 2 rappen
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Old 30.08.2011, 02:02
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Re: Help?! How to remove a "motel smell" from apartment?

A few small bowls of ammonia set out before you leave for work can also help to neutralize odors. If straight ammonia is too strong for your sense of smell, you can mix half water/ half ammonia. Let it sit out for the day, and by the time you come home, smells should be gone. Plus, after you dispose of the bowls (you can use it to clean the windows, mirrors, etc. when you are done) the smell of the ammonia disapates quickly.

I would also put the lemon juice down the sinks. But I first pour some baking soda down there, then the lemon juice (it fizzles up, but it cleans out the pipes really well). If you want to give a good wash, then follow this by a liter of boiling water.

Bleach/water mixture to spray down the walls too if those are the culprits. You can also use your ammonia mix for this... But NEVER use them both together!!!

If you're a bit craftsy, you can use the shells of lemons and fill them with wax to make your own lemon scented/ odor absorbing candles.

You can always try Febreeze, but I always feel this is just covering up odor, not getting rid of the cause.
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Old 01.09.2011, 11:01
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Re: Help?! How to remove a "motel smell" from apartment?

Thanks everyone for the suggestions! I will try the vacuuming of the walls and vinegar cleaning of the walls and floor. I don't really think it is a mold or mildew smell, I've had those problems in other places and this is quite distinct.

@ Jako - the smell is of the classic Motel 6 vintage, if you are familiar with that icon of the american interstate exit ramp
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