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How to get Garlic & other strong Spices' smell out of my Zojirushi Flask/ Thermos acquired via a herbal Immunity decoction?

Update:

After 1.5 yr of keeping it away, the silicone rubber section still smells a bit. Lets see if there's any more ideas on doing this. Have yet to try update suggestions from @Chris

Major components of this decoction were:

  • Garlic cloves
  • Black Pepper seeds
  • Cinnamon
  • Bay Leaf
  • Ginger
  • Cumin seeds
  • Turmeric powder
  • Coriander powder
  • Fennel seeds

Flask Product & Materials info:

https://www.zojirushi.com/app/product/smkhe

  • Its SlickSteel® finish interior is corrosion resistant and repels stains.
  • Durable and sanitary 18/8 stainless steel interior with SlickSteel® finish
  • Made of BPA-free plastic and stainless steel
  • Structure, design & details as pulled from product website

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Mine is the Stainless Steel colored 16 oz one:

enter image description here

More data from Manufacturer's website FAQ and Manuals:

[QUOTE] Q3: How can I clean my vacuum bottle? A: Always rinse out your vacuum bottle after each use and rinse the stopper under running water. Do not soak the vacuum bottle in water or place in a dishwasher to clean.

The exterior, stopper and cup(s) can be cleaned using a moist sponge or soft cloth and mild dishwashing liquid.

The interior can be cleaned using a mild dishwashing liquid and then rinsed thoroughly.

Please refer to your instruction manual for more. [/QUOTE]

Manual: https://www.zojirushi.com/servicesupport/manuals/manual_pdf/smkhe.pdf

enter image description here

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    Could you please add what you have tried already? This may help getting to a good solution quicker.
    – Stephie
    May 27, 2020 at 8:50
  • it would also be helpful to add what's the material on the inside of your flask
    – Luciano
    May 27, 2020 at 9:37
  • 4
    If soap and water won't do it, I'd try vodka. A lot of spices contain oils that are not very water soluble. May 27, 2020 at 21:56
  • 1
    I suspect the smell is in the plastic parts rather than the stainless. Am I right?
    – Chris H
    May 28, 2020 at 14:57
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    @ChrisH After 1.5 yr of keeping it away, the silicone rubber section still smells a bit. Lets see if there's any more ideas on doing this.
    – Alex S
    Oct 28, 2021 at 12:52

4 Answers 4

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Baking soda and vinegar. Add as much vinegar as you want and then add a teaspoon of baking soda. Once it's finished bubbling you can add another teaspoon and another. If there is still an odor repeat. It's amazing how well this works. I clean gas engine carburetors with this solution.

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I the smell is stuck in there after many months, you have to decide if it's usable as is, because if not it's time to try riskier methods. In no particular order, I would try:

  • Soaking the offending part in vinegar for a few days
  • Soaking in a strong solution of bicarbonate of soda for a few days
  • Soaking in hot water for a few hours: put the seal inside the flask, fill with boiling water, and put the lid on (keep upright), or put in a bowl of boiling water, with a lid, and place in an oven at 60--100°C. A few drops of detergent would be a good idea.
  • Soaking in diluted bleach for a few hours.
  • Covering in cooking oil for a few hours. Some of the flavour compounds are likely to be more soluble in oil than in water.

In between all steps, wash in hot soapy water, or even better a dishwasher, even if it says not to.

Note that may of these are specifically against the manufacturer's guidelines, but are unlikely to do real damage (they may cause premature aging or discoloration). These slightly risky ideas are mean for something that's otherwise going to go to waste.

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If it's true silicon rubber, I've had some success baking my Instant Pot gaskets at 350°F/180°C for half an hour. It doesn't remove the smell completely, but certainly reduces it by quite a bit. It's in the nature of this material to absorb odors, and there's not much you can do about it. I have separate gaskets for savoury meals and non-spicy things like cheesecake or oatmeal for this reason.

For something like a water bottle, I'd just buy a new one at this point, and make sure it's single use. E.g. only water, only coffee, or only strange concoctions.

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  1. Wash out with warm soapy water. A toothbrush could help in the scrubbing. While still wet, add baking soda into the flask and scrub.
  2. Pour an inch or two of white vinegar into a clean carafe, then fill most of the way with hot tap water.
  3. Not tried this one, but seems a few people have had good results. 4 Alka-Seltzer tablets with water.
  4. Adding freshly ground coffee, which will help to mask the smell if it is still there.

Edit: Just read through the manufacturer's instructions, and have updated my advice as a result.

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    Note that the smell is far more likely to linger in the plastic components than the steel, you you will need to treat those especially.
    – unlisted
    May 27, 2020 at 10:20
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    I got something similar on another group 1."Fill up your flask with hot water and 4 tbls of white vinegar, leave over night. Rinse well next day! Usually works for strong odour 😉" 2."Bi carb should soak up smells too." 3. "People often put a container in their fridge to absorb smells so maybe try that overnight then do the wash" - Will have to ask the house ladies what they've tried so far and then execute a mix of all suggestions.
    – Alex S
    May 28, 2020 at 11:59

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