How to dispel that old Caravan smell.

The Bloke and I are the new proud parents of a really dinky old caravan that hales from (circa) 1970. It has an aluminium body with the requisite laminex panelling-over-plywood on the walls and cupboards, linoleum-tiled floor and daggy old upholstered cushioning for the seats and bed-mattress.

The van itself is in amazing nick, with no apparent dampness or water damage to the wall linings, and no rust outside either. The previous owners used it for a ‘spare bedroom’ and it has been left outside, uncovered for the past three years. I’m guessing that BEFORE that, it was always kept in a garage or at least under tarpaulin/s for protection.

But anyway, the caravan has that typical OLD CARAVAN SMELL, that assaults you as you walk in the door. It’s more a mustiness than a ‘dead’ smell, and I’m looking for ways to get rid of it. I’ve had the van airing with the windows open (under cover), and I’ve bunged in a dish of bicarbonate of soda to see whether that helps at all.

I’d rather not attempt to ‘mask’ the odour with incense and stuff (although if I have to, I will spray the buggery out of it with Febreze or similar) but was wondering whether youse lot might have some tried and true tricks up yer’ sleeves to help me make my new caravan the sweetest girl on the block!

(She’s getting her Roadworthy Certificate tomorrow, and then getting registered with some shiny new plates…come Saturday morning, she’s going through her initiation rites by heading to a lovely camping area 'bout 20 minutes drive away on the banks of an anabranch of the Murray River).

She’s a sweetie, but I wish she didn’t smell so old. :stuck_out_tongue:

Also put out a bowl of apple cider vinegar, and if that doesn’t work, a bowl of ground unbrewed coffee. This site has some more information.

All the windows and the door are open for added ventilation, yes?

It is generally a case of a bit much moisture has soaked into the walls, and sometimes there might be a bit of mold or mildew somewhere out of plain view.

If the cushions and fabrics are able to be removed, take them out, vacuum them and fluff them in the sun for a while also helps.

Hey, thanks for the info and the links to that site aruvqan…::kam trots out to the caravan with a bottle of cider-vinegar, some coffee-grounds and some other stuff to do some serious cleaning in the morning::


the OP is a pretty good example of two countries divided by a common language. :wink:

Seriously, if I hadn’t spent time in Oz and in a caravan, I’d be thinking what the hell is this all about?

(Just an observation and not a criticism of the OP.)

Shit. I was trying ever so hard to make this a question unencumbered by regional differences, and NOW you tell me I’ve buggered it up?? :stuck_out_tongue:

Many thanks China Guy. :smack:

Don’t get me wrong. I thought it was kinda, dunno, cute. I mean, I couldn’t possibly make this stuff up.

I had a girlfriend from Down Under. We went our seperate ways but stayed in touch for years. One time in the old days when it took at least weeks for a letter to get from Australia to anywhere else, she wrote that she had sent me a “cheater” by surface mail.

I wrote back “what’s a cheater?”

“A wind cheater”

What the hell is a “wind cheater?”

It’s a jumper, you stupid dag!

Eventually a sweat shirt arrived in the mail.

If I didn’t know better, I would swear she was a “couple of roos short in upper paddock” if you know what I mean.

Roger that.


I thought she was talking about a Dodge Caravan and I was thinking, “They didn’t make those in the 70’s!”:slight_smile:

if you want to get rid of that old caravan smell you should give your camels a bath.

oh wait you’re talking about one of the tow behind holiday houses. do a surface cleaning with dilute vinegar or bleach (sodium hypochlorite) solution as well as the airing out and putting things in the sun. .

It has curtains and upholstery? Maybe you can replace that stuff with new fresh materials. If they are 1970s vintage, it’s time to upgrade.

Also just try to air it out a lot with windows open on nice days, etc. Have fun with it!

Drag everything you can out and let it sit in the sun for a couple of good hot baking days. Same with the caravan, park it in the sun with the windows and doors wide open. I’d mist the interior with something I like the scent of. Also, put those charcoal scent absorbers into the cupboards and corners.

FYI, the American word is “RV”. I don’t know what the Brits call them.

IMHO, the smell will always hang around at least a little as long as the upholstery’s there.

I assume they call them caravans as well. I say this because there is an excellent documentary on British culture called Snatch, wherein they made many references to a

Does the OP mean a (travel) trailer or an RV (recreational vehicle)? The trailer is towed behind another vehicle, while the RV is self-powered. Both can be the side of minivans, or the size of buses.

(Travel) trailer

They are distinct from the ‘mobile home’, which is intended to be moved to a site and then anchored. (Sometimes the anchors don’t work all that well, which is why we call them ‘tornado bait’.)

A Google image search of “caravan Australia” resulted exclusively in pictures of trailers so I assume that it must refer only to trailers. (As an American I was wondering why a caravan would have upholstery and linoleum floors.

Same here. To me a “caravan” is a train of camels or horse-drawn wagons. Are “caravan” and “van” exact synonyms in Australia?


That’d work, no Australian caravan ever spends much time in the hot sun. :rolleyes:

Kam, the “old caravan” smell is decomposing vinyl and styrene due to aging, it happens to the best of us. :wink: You can mask it with the chemical agents suggested above and taking the 'van out on the road for a spin.

If you want to get rid of it absolutely the best way is kerosene … and a match.

No, they are different in that a “van” is self powered but the US style RV is uncommon here. Most “vans” have a commercial application the tradesman’s panel vans, or the transit vans, even the Divvy Van (paddywaggon)

If you have more courage than me you could ask Kam about panel vans, might be NSFW!:smiley:

I am now wondering whether “van” derived from “caravan”. To me, “caravan” brings to mind either camels crossing the desert or one of those folklore “gypsy” wagons. Did the wagon develop into the van?