Useful Car Tips

How to Get Bad Smells Out of Your Car

September 07, 2018
Nobody likes a smelly car. While we’d all love to keep that new car smell as long as possible, it never seems to last. In fact, many cars seem to be magnets for bad smells. You’ve picked up a less than pleasant odor, how do you get rid of it? Let’s take a look at how to track down odors and get rid of them.

Look for the Source of the Smell

Some smells are pretty obvious. If your kid lost his lunch in the back seat or you tracked something in from the parking lot, the smell isn’t hard to find. But, many times, smells catch us off guard and the source isn’t always obvious. Start by checking under the seats. If something was spilled or brought into the car and forgotten about, you may have missed it until the smell began. Once you’ve identified the source, get rid of as much of it as you can before bringing in the cleaning supplies.

Clean Carpet and Upholstery

If the smell seems to be coming from one source, you’ll obviously want to start by cleaning that area. Vacuum up as much as you can, then try shampooing the area with a carpet cleaner if it’s carpet or upholstery. But, if you can’t seem to identify the source, you might be dealing with a larger problem. The carpet and upholstery in cars tends to hold dirt and moisture for quite some time. The effects of moisture and dirt are then compounded by the constant temperature changes that happen when cars are driven, then closed up for long periods of time. If your car smells, try vacuuming the carpet and other surfaces like upholstered seats. This may be enough to lift unwanted smells out of your car.

Freshen up the Interior

If a good vacuum doesn’t seem to do the trick, it may be time for something a little more intensive. Carpets and upholstered surfaces like seats can really benefit from a thorough shampooing. Use an automotive formula and a stiff brush for the best results. Hard surfaces can be wiped down with household disinfectants to get any odors that may have seeped in out. Just be careful to read the labels and make sure the cleaner is safe to use with your car’s interior.

What if My Car Smells Like Smoke?

If you let someone smoke in your car or have picked up a used model that’s been smoked in, the smell can be overpowering for a non-smoker. While getting smoke out of a car isn’t easy, there are a few things you can do to help get as much of the smell out as possible. Start by thoroughly cleaning out the car, carefully scrubbing each nook and cranny. If you can still smell smoke after a good cleaning, try sprinkling some baking soda on the carpet and seats (if they’re fabric). Let the baking soda sit for a few hours before vacuuming it up. This is perhaps the toughest smell to get out so your best option may just be to keep some air fresheners in your glove box.

Keeping Your Car Clean and Fresh

If you want to keep your car stink-free, try keeping it clean. Cleaning out your car regularly will help keep odors from taking hold and allow you to get rid of spills and messes before they start to smell. You can also try to change your floor mats. Rubber, weather proof mats are the easiest to clean and don’t hold on to the odor as much as regular factory mats.
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