Eliminating Odors from Your Car

So, you’re driving happily down the road when you pass a sewage center or a dead skunk in the road. You hold your breath until it passes, except it never seems to pass. It turns out that what you first brushed off as a “passing smell” is in fact a perishable item you mistakenly left in your car days before. Driving your car will soon become intolerable. What to do?

Clean it first! Nothing will get rid of an odor if the source still exists. Use a power steamer to clean the area. If you don’t have access to a power steamer, use a top-quality cleaning product to do the trick. But just as important as giving your whole vehicle a full scrub is allowing it to air out for as long as possible post-wash, with all the doors open. The odor may persist longer if you close your vehicle up too soon.

Place an open bag of charcoal in your car. No, this is not an old wives’ tale—it actually works! Charcoal is a fantastic natural product you can use to absorb and get rid of odors. Make sure you put it in only after you have cleaned your car.

Just like charcoal, vinegar is another great natural odor-absorber, especially for the more intense smells that may get left behind. After your car has aired out from its cleaning, set a bowl of white vinegar in it and leave it undisturbed until the odor has disappeared.

Fabric softener sheets can be placed and remain under the seats after cleaning and will continue to absorb odors. Fabreze type products also help with odors.

Try a scent cover or scent eliminator. These products have a scent, as they are meant to cover the smell of hunters so that they are “invisible” to their game. These products can be found at sports shops, in sporting goods departments in larger department stores, and online.

For strong, persistent smells like cigarette smoke, repeated use of an air ionizer will get rid of the odor. Run the ionizer overnight in the closed car and follow up with an odor cover, Fabreze, or fabric softener sheets. You may have to repeat this process a few times until the smell is gone.

We hope these tips will have you back in your sweet smelling vehicle in no time. Happy driving!