How To Get Air Freshener Smell Off Violin- Please Help!!

February 11, 2020, 6:01 PM · Recently, because I had about four hours to kill before my bus left from Cleveland and nowhere else to go, I practiced for a while with my heavy metal mute on in the Greyhound bus station. There was an odd chemical smell in the station, but it wasn’t until I had been practicing for a few hours that I noticed an automatic air freshener machine mounted to the ceiling sending puffs of a foul ‘fresh’ scent (like Pinesol) into the air, hence the overwhelming chemical smell. When I got home and unpacked my violin, it (and all of my other belongings,) reeked of this Pinesol scent. To make matters worse, the smell makes me sneeze uncontrollably. I am now literally allergic to my violin!!

How can I safely remove the scent??! I tried wiping it down with a slightly damp paper towel, but it didn’t remove much of the smell, and made my violin look dull. I also tried polishing it with some balled-up knee highs, but that didn’t help much either. I suspect the vapor was some kind of oil-based scent because the surface of my violin now feels slightly sticky. I also hope the air freshener didn’t damage the varnish!!

Any suggestions greatly appreciated!

Replies (11)

February 11, 2020, 6:44 PM · I suspect this is a "take it to a good luthier" situation.
February 11, 2020, 6:49 PM · I'll bet your luthier will tell you to just leave your violin out of its case and leave the case open so that everything can air out well. Rather than "swallowing the spider to catch the fly."
February 11, 2020, 6:55 PM · Luthier
February 11, 2020, 7:56 PM · Leave your violin out in the open, preferably outside in the shade IF weather conditions are favourable where you live. Otherwise, you could try ozone. Or perfuming it with another, stronger scent to mask the offensive one.
February 11, 2020, 8:20 PM · I've been told activated charcoal is the best treatment to get rid of odours like cigarette smell, You can put it inside the case with the case closed, or leave it open with the charcoal battens all over the violin.
Edited: February 11, 2020, 9:36 PM · Ozone is a very reactive, toxic substance. I recommend not screwing around with that. There is never any harm in going to your luthier for advice. My earlier post was merely a prediction of what they'd say. But they might "wipe it down" for you with whatever magic elixir they happen to have on their workbench, which I suspect is some mixture of water, turpentine, alcohol, and just enough detergent to form a metastable emulsion. (That is also what I surmise is in "Hill Polish and Cleaner" but I've not conducted any type of analysis on it.)
February 11, 2020, 11:36 PM · There is no danger whatsoever to using activated charcoal
February 12, 2020, 6:46 AM · I use ozone for this purpose all the time, and I can attest to its safety. I find taking a good gulp of it in the mornings helps me wake up, too. Clears up the lungs after the night.
February 12, 2020, 8:16 AM · Activated charcoal! I have big allergies to perfume/synthetic fragrances etc and had this issue before.
February 12, 2020, 8:07 PM · I'd be more concerned of the sticky part than the smell if it were me. Calls for professional cleaning if that is a viable option.
Edited: February 12, 2020, 8:33 PM · The air freshener is highly unlikely to have damaged your varnish unless it was literally spitting fluid onto the surface, but you might have upset the varnish a bit with the damp paper towel. A good luthier will be able to help you with that though. As mentioned by others, activated charcoal in your case can absorb the smell and help it fade with time. Violin varnish is much more sensitive than the varnish of any other wooden objects and while it might be alright to wipe down furniture with a damp rag, this does not apply to violins. Also, don't use socks on your violin. I use ultra-soft flannel to wipe the rosin dust from mine, and I keep that cloth super clean so nothing nasty interacts with the surface of the violin. I hope this helped.

Edited due to my apparent inability to spell simple words lol

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