Get Rid of Cabin Odor and Save Your Sale


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When you are selling an airplane sometimes the little things matter the most.

It's likely that any buyer in this market has lots of options when it comes to aircraft. Even within a particular make and model there are several hundred aircraft on the market at any given time. Once they narrow down the options buyers will often go and see their final choices. This is when decisions will be made. If they are taking the time to come and see your airplane take that opportunity to make the best impression possible.

That brings me to the focus of this article: cabin odor.

What's That Smell

Let's face it most airplanes could smell a bit better. It's just that no one seems to want to talk about it.

Without air conditioning we sweat in those seats, be it from summer heat or the winter IFR approach down to minimums. If you are the typical male pilot I'm willing to bet that you occasionally let out a bit of gas as you continue to climb in that un-pressurized cabin. Then there are those who fly with us. No matter how smooth you fly there will be someone who has the unfortunate experience of loosing their lunch at 5500 feet. If you have kids you can also expect all the smells that go with your typical mini-van, sans fast food maybe.

If your airplane cabin smells like your first Skyhawk trainer it's time to take action. That old airplane smell could kill your sale.

What to Do About Aircraft Odor

Fortunately there are some very easy fixes to this problem.

As you may know, unpleasant smells typically linger in fabrics or are the result of dust and foreign matter. In most aircraft this means carpet and seats. If the odor is relatively minor, try this simple one-two hit. First, get some Fabreze and spray down those seats. Make sure to use the most mild scented Fabreze. Second, buy a can of Ozium and spray it in that smelly cabin, closing the door behind you. After sitting overnight with some Fabreze and Ozium stewing in the cabin, your airplane's odor problem will be history.

If you have some more time or, perhaps, a more severe smell issue, try this step by step:

  • Wipe down cabin surfaces removing any dust, dirt or oil
  • Clean out door and seat pockets
  • Vacum carpets and remove any crumbs from anywhere
  • Steam clean the carpets (professional or rental machine)
  • Steam clean the seats (professional or rental machine)
  • Fill the cabin with good amount of Ozium and let it sit for a while

About an hour before you show your airplane to a perspective buyer give the cabin a little refresh of Ozium just to naturalize any last minute smells.

Big Difference, Small Cost

The great thing about getting rid of odors is that it can make a big impact on your sale but cost you very little. Even if you get a professional to come out and clean the carpets and seats that shouldn't run you more than $75. The Fabreze and Ozium are $20 tops. Imagine spending less than $100 to make sure your sale doesn't get scuttled by a funny smell in the cabin. Or better yet, having a super clean cabin smell may even be the thing that makes your airplane the one a buyer wants when compared to another one that just doesn't smell as good.

Don't risk putting off a buyer with a cabin that doesn't smell great. Take 30 minutes, spend $20 and make sure you have the best smelling airplane out there.

UPDATE: Recently I was cruzing Amazon and found a new, very highly rated, unsented Fabreze alternative that you might want to consider. Zero Odor 16-Ounce General Household Odor Eliminator

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