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Old 02-17-2011, 03:41 PM
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Stop the stank before it starts.

With warmer weather approaching, I thought I’d write an article concerning a recurring problem many experience when using their car’s air conditioning; that’s right, I’m talking about the well known “sock” smell that comes from your vents when you turn the system on. Your smell may vary…it may smell like urine, cheese, body odor, or worse. Whatever the smell, it’s awful and embarrassing.

Since our cars are equipped with cabin filters, a lot of people will recommend a filter change when the smell occurs. Other helpful souls will recommend spraying Lysol or some other spray into the air intake. Some will suggest checking for a clogged drain hose. Sadly, none of these approaches will fix the problem. They may mask or temporarily reduce the smell, but they don’t directly address its source—bacteria and mold that has grown on the evaporator and the evaporator case.

The evaporator evaporates (duh) moisture from the outside air during the cooling process. The resulting condensation drains onto the ground when the system is on--hence the water puddles you find under your car during the summer. When the system is turned off, some moisture remains on the evaporator and case and the moist, dark environment provides the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and mold—the REAL source of the foul odor.

Obviously, the mold and bacteria need to be removed to get rid of the raunchy smell. You can pay a mechanic a few hundred bucks to “treat” your system or you can do it yourself, know it was actually done (and done right) and save money and time. DIY treatment generally involves spraying a foaming anti-bacterial cleaner onto the evaporator. The foam saturates the evaporator and case, then turns to liquid and trickles back down the drain tube. Many of the cleaners available come with a long flexible tube to facilitate reaching the evaporator without having to disassemble anything. There are many products available and most cost less than $20 per can. Here is a short list of ones I am familiar with; you may find others:

1Z einszett Klima-Cleaner : http://www.superiorcarcare.net/einsz...a-cleaner.html

Interdynamics Evaporator Odor Eliminator: http://www.oreillyauto.com/site/c/de...1787&ppt=C0050

Kool-it Evaporator Cleaner: http://www.autobarn.net/lubegard-hea...m-cleaner.html

BG Frigi-Clean: http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/BG-FR...Q5fCarQ5fParts

FJC 5914 Foaming Evaporator Cleaner: http://www.amazon.com/FJC-5914-Foami.../dp/B002EAKX88

Foaming Evaporator Cleaner: http://www.nostalgicairparts.com/air...rce=googlebase

Note: The aforementioned items ARE NOT air fresheners, they are evaporator cleaners. Many of them will at first provide a pleasant scent which will soon disappear but by no means does this indicate that the products have stopped working. If you want a long term air freshner, buy something other than the above. If you want a clean evaporator that leads to odor-free air, then these products (among others) will work for you.

Although the instructions will vary slightly depending on the product you choose, I’ve had great success treating systems by spraying the cleaner up the evaporator drain hose (using the provided flexible tubing) from underneath the car, directly into the evaporator case. Generally speaking, two treatments per year will keep the funk away.

After you have treated your car, there are some steps that can be taken to help keep the odor from returning:

1. Turn the A/C off (but keep the blower on) about a mile from my destination to help dry some of the condensation and reduce the moisture level on the evaporator coils and case.

2. Minimize the use of the “recirculation” feature, because it allows for the recirculation of mold spores and makes the smell return sooner.

I know this process may sound overly simple, but it really is very easy.

There’s nothing worse than getting into a clean, well-maintained, good-looking car and being blasted by the eye-watering stench of funky feet. So be proactive and stop the stank before it starts.

Side note: Since I started using this process, I no longer experience the "sneezing fits" that I used to have at the beginning of my morning commute. My non-expert guess is that lower mold levels lead to less sneezing.

I hope you found this article helpful, perhaps even sticky-worthy.

Disclaimer: follow product directions and if in doubt, consult a qualified technician.
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Old 02-17-2011, 05:57 PM
toomanyaccords toomanyaccords is offline
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Sounds like a good tip.

Have to ask... How much experience do you have using these treatments? I'm wondering if there a risk of damaging anything by spraying these up the drain tube?

Thanks.
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Old 02-17-2011, 06:32 PM
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As long as you follow the manufacturer's instructions, the risks are minimal. All the cleaners I listed are safe to use and won't attack plastics and metals. But as I said, if you have any doubts, consult a trained technician.
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Old 02-18-2011, 08:30 AM
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Get this stuff:

http://www.superiorcarcare.net/einsz...a-cleaner.html

It was on back order a few months ago. So get it while you can. Nice subtle lemon scent. Much better than the alternative. I remember MotorCity Honda sellling this as part of his detailing package for $30 iirc. Everyone that used it wanted it again.
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Old 02-18-2011, 02:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yukfoo View Post
...Of course, I also turn the A/C off (but keep the blower on) about a mile from my destination to help dry some of the condensation and reduce the moisture level on the evaporator coils and case. I also minimize the use of the “recirculation” feature...
I think this is a good write up!

Knock on wood...I have had good luck in the past with other vehicles & I have not experienced the smells from the A/C system.

I have not used any products in the past, but use both methods mentioned above & have not had any of the nasty smells.
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Old 02-18-2011, 04:13 PM
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and i thought i was the only one with this problem....good to know there are others out there.

for me, it's the smell of feet. and not the pleasant just-out-of-the-shower feet....it's the i-just-played-ball-for-3-hours-with-day-old-socks feet.

Is there a picture-by-picture/video process on how to use this?
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Old 02-18-2011, 04:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kimbahpnam View Post
and i thought i was the only one with this problem....good to know there are others out there.

for me, it's the smell of feet. and not the pleasant just-out-of-the-shower feet....it's the i-just-played-ball-for-3-hours-with-day-old-socks feet.

Is there a picture-by-picture/video process on how to use this?
First of all, this problem is extremely common. However, lots of people just settle for air fresheners and hope for the best. They never really address the source of the odor. It's akin to not showering and relying on lots of cologne to hide the ass-kicking body odor.

I don't have pics. Frankly, you can go the super-simple route of fully inserting the tube into the center vents and spraying. The slightly more difficult way (my preferred method) is to discover where your a/c drain hose is (by running the a/c and watching for the drip) and inserting the hose as far into the drain has as possible and spraying. Really, there is no disassembly, no tools, and very little mechanical aptitude required. You can probably do it with ease. All the products I mentioned come with clear, easy to comprehend instructions.
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Old 02-18-2011, 06:23 PM
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OMG thank you Yukfoo!!! For the longest time I was wondering wtf was that smell everytime I turn off recirculate to open the vents hahahaha
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Old 02-18-2011, 09:13 PM
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I've only used 1z as far as these products go. Works well IMO. Detailer's Domain usually has these in stock. Link here: http://www.detailersdomain.com/1zein...iacleaner.aspx
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Old 02-19-2011, 02:03 PM
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The thought of having a problem like the one described in Yukfoo's original
post scared me big time.

So some 1Z Klima-Cleaner has been ordered, to test on my not-so-new-anymore daily driver.

Thanks to all for the advice.
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Old 02-19-2011, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by toomanyaccords View Post
The thought of having a problem like the one described in Yukfoo's original
post scared me big time.

So some 1Z Klima-Cleaner has been ordered, to test on my not-so-new-anymore daily driver.

Thanks to all for the advice.
You're welcome and good on you. With the 1Z, I usually spray it up the evaporator drain. Stick the 1Z hose up the drain hose as far as you can and rotate it to get max coverage. Shake the can well and DO NOT invert it. Follow the instructions. You're well on your way to stopping the stank before it starts.
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Old 02-21-2011, 09:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yukfoo View Post
With the 1Z, I usually spray it up the evaporator drain. Stick the 1Z hose up the drain hose as far as you can and rotate it to get max coverage. Shake the can well and DO NOT invert it. Follow the instructions. You're well on your way to stopping the stank before it starts.
Never heard of using it that way before. See below:

Quote:
Originally Posted by MotorCity Honda View Post
Ok, just some quickies after extensive usage..

1z Klima Cleaner: This stuff is great; I have used it on 3 different vehicles with stellar results. The scent is a light lemony scent. Nothing obnoxious. The directions call for a complete can to be used on each vehicle so to make it worth it a simple $30 up sell is required and a nice addition to the bottom line

To use this product you push the long tube that is supplied down the center AC vents and spray the enitire can of foam in - let sit for 20 minutes, then start the AC an let run for one minute.. it kills bacteria and leaves a lemony scent..
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Old 02-21-2011, 09:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SatinSilver View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yukfoo View Post
With the 1Z, I usually spray it up the evaporator drain. Stick the 1Z hose up the drain hose as far as you can and rotate it to get max coverage. Shake the can well and DO NOT invert it. Follow the instructions. You're well on your way to stopping the stank before it starts.
Never heard of using it that way before. See below:

Quote:
Originally Posted by MotorCity Honda View Post
Ok, just some quickies after extensive usage..

1z Klima Cleaner: This stuff is great; I have used it on 3 different vehicles with stellar results. The scent is a light lemony scent. Nothing obnoxious. The directions call for a complete can to be used on each vehicle so to make it worth it a simple $30 up sell is required and a nice addition to the bottom line

To use this product you push the long tube that is supplied down the center AC vents and spray the enitire can of foam in - let sit for 20 minutes, then start the AC an let run for one minute.. it kills bacteria and leaves a lemony scent..
I would tend to agree with the approach of spraying the stuff in from the top, and then let gravity carry the chemicals down towards the evaporator which is near the bottom of the overall mechanism, the chemical slowly migrating through the nooks and crannies probably will have the best result killing off the mold and other organisms in the way.
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Old 02-21-2011, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Aviography View Post
I would tend to agree with the approach of spraying the stuff in from the top, and then let gravity carry the chemicals down towards the evaporator which is near the bottom of the overall mechanism, the chemical slowly migrating through the nooks and crannies probably will have the best result killing off the mold and other organisms in the way.
Per the MANUFACTURER's instructions, available at http://www.1z-usa.com/klima-cleaner_application.html

Professional Application Instructions:

Option 1: Apply Klima-Cleaner tube through the evacuation/drain tube of the evaporator core located underneath the vehicle.

Option 2: Remove blower and insert tube through main ducting of housing.


Apparently, the manufacturer considers the application through the vent to be the DIY approach. But hey, whatever works for each individual user is fine with me.
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Old 02-26-2011, 04:26 PM
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...With the 1Z, I usually spray it up the evaporator drain. Stick the 1Z hose up the drain hose as far as you can and rotate it to get max coverage...
Can of 1Z arrived yesterday.

My evaporator will get a rotating foaming enema tomorrow. Lol.

Stop the stank before it starts.
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