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I recently purchased a 1960s home built on a crawlspace and have found that the laundry room and adjacent hallway has a strong odor of fabric softener and/or ant-static dryer sheets. When I walked through the house when first considering putting an offer on it, I did not notice the smell but now that the tenants have left, taking their washer and dryer, the odor is strong in the laundry room and more faintly in the hallway and fainter still in the living room which has a doorway into the hallway near the laundry room door which opens into the hallway.

What can I do to eliminate this odor? Has anyone tried using an ozone generator, an ozonator, to eliminate the odor of dryer sheets?

I have ordered an ozone generator with the idea of running it in the room for a few hours to see if that makes a difference.

However a friend has told me that the chemicals used in dryer sheets may react adversely with the ozone and that some chemicals used may be turned into formaldehyde when being oxidized by ozone. I have not yet been able to find any such cautions and am wondering if anyone knows of any such problem.

I have used a method to clear the same odor from a dryer in the past by dampening part of a towel with distilled white vinegar and running the dryer with the dampened towel. This method seems to work in clearing the dryer sheet odor from the dryer itself.

I am not sure if the odor is in the laundry room or if it is coming from the dryer vent pipe which is now lying disconnected on the floor of the laundry room. I suppose the first thing I should do is try to rule out odors coming into the room through the dryer vent pipe by plugging it and airing the room to see if that makes a difference.

One question that I have not yet answered is whether the dryer vent is connected to an exterior crawlspace wall with the exhaust venting outside of the crawlspace or if the dryer is vented into the crawlspace itself. My concern is that the dryer vent is not connected to an exterior wall and the crawlspace has become contaminated with dryer sheet scented lint. The home inspection report does not mention any problems with the dryer venting however I have yet to find an opening for the dryer vent exhaust in an external wall though there are places under a porch I can't get to.

I'm looking for ideas and courses of action as well as things to investigate.

As I've typed this, I've come up with the following courses of action:

  • plug the dryer vent and open the windows and see if the odor is reduced
  • plug the dryer vent and use the ozonator and see if the odor is reduced
  • check that the dryer vent is properly connected to an exterior wall, venting outside of the crawlspace
  • check and clean the dryer vent pipe of lint

Edit 1: I have looked at the dryer vent opening in the floor of the laundry room and it has no duct work but is instead an opening that allows the dryer to exhaust directly into the crawlspace. At the time this house was built, the building code did not explicitly require venting to the outdoors through an exterior wall. I have secured several layers of plastic bags over the dry vent opening and will see if the odor inside the home dissipates overnight. Once the ozonator arrives, I will try that as a next step.

Edit 2: The ozonator arrived and I have left it running for 8 hours a couple of times. My impression is that matters have improved however there is still a lingering odor of perfumed dryer sheets. What I am seeing is that I can air the house out by opening front and rear doors to have a breeze through the house but on returning to the house the next morning, the odor has returned. I think it may be less noticeable now than previously.

Edit 3: I had someone run duct work from the laundry room to an exterior wall of the crawl space to vent the dryer to outside the crawl space. The odor seems slightly reduced after doing so. A week after that I have tried using a small vaporizer with a mixture of water and distilled white vinegar, half and half, and running that for about two hours with the laundry room door closed. There was sufficient vapor produced that the walls of the room were had a light sheen of moisture. I turned it off and removed it from the room and left the door open to dry out. After a couple of days the room had dried out fairly well and the odor of vinegar was still noticeable but considerably diminished. The dryer sheet odor was also diminished. Some two weeks later with the laundry room door closed, the vinegar odor is gone and the dryer sheet odor is much fainter.

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I would wash down the room with water first, especially the floor. That might clean up,the smell.

With the vent, check Stack Exchange answers on how to clean vent (to remove lint build-up, to prevent fire).

Not sure how to reference previous question & answer.

search for "how to clean a long dryer vent"

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  • I was able to take a closer look at the dryer vent opening in the floor and there is no ductwork. It is basically a flange over an opening cut into the floor of the laundry room with the exhaust from the dryer venting directly into the crawlspace.. I'm not sure that water would be sufficient however white distilled vinegar diluted with water may do the trick and is something to think about. Jan 11 at 21:22
  • I have tried using a water and distilled white vinegar mixture in a vaporizer, running that with the laundry room door shut for a couple of hours. That seems to have improved things a bit. Mar 2 at 23:39

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