How to Make Your Car Smell Good

How to Make Your Car Smell Good

Cars are great for getting you from place to place, helping people move, and giving rides to friends and family. But if your car isn't clean and has a bad smell to it, nobody is going to want to ride with you, and you'll have to put up with a terrible smell every time you get in the vehicle. And some smells get worse over time instead of dissipating, so if you want to make sure your car always smells good, it’s important to keep it clean, deal with messes right away, avoid doing things that might cause bad smells (like smoking in the car), and clean and deodorize properly when there is a bad smell to address. There are also lots of different products you can use to keep your car smelling fresh and welcoming, and many different scents to please any nose.


[Edit]Odor Improvement

  1. Hang an air freshener in the car. There are many types of air fresheners that are designed specifically for cars. To pick a scent, simply find one that appeals to your sense of smell. No matter what kind you get, be sure to place it in an area that gets lots of airflow, so that the scent circulates throughout the car.
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    • Vent clip and dashboard air fresheners are meant to be clipped to or positioned over the vents.
    • Tree-style and other air fresheners can be placed hanging from the rear view mirror, or under the dash—where the passenger’s feet go—to get the most circulation.[1]
  2. Apply an odor-eliminating air freshener. Spray or aerosol-style air fresheners can also be used in cars to mask smells and leave a fresh scent.[2] Spray the liquid into the air in the car, rather than directly onto the seats, dash, floor, or roof. You can use a regular house and home spray like Lysol or Febreze, or you can purchase one that’s made specifically for cars, such as:
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    • Chemical Guys new car smell
    • K1 air freshener for cars
    • Armor All new car smell air freshener
  3. Spray perfume in the car. Instead of purchasing an air freshener, you can also use a few spritzes of your favorite cologne or perfume to make the inside of your car smell nice. As with the air freshener, don’t spray the liquid directly onto any of the car’s surfaces.
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    • If you have an old tree-style air freshener lying around that doesn’t have any scent left, you can spray perfume directly on this and place it back in the car.
  4. Place an unlit scented candle under the front seat. Scented candles come in hundreds of different smells, and there's no reason you can't use them to make your car smell nice. Look for a smaller candle that will fit under the driver or passenger seat. A tea light or votive will be a good size.
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    • Don’t use candles that are in jars, otherwise you won’t be able to smell them.
  5. Keep dryer sheets under the front seat. Take a new box of dryer sheets and open the box. Place the box under the driver or passenger seat to give your car that fresh laundry smell.
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    • To make for a slower release of the scent, keep the box sealed and poke a couple holes in the top and sides.

[Edit]Odor Elimination

  1. Go for a drive with the windows down. Sometimes a smell gets into your car and just won’t leave, and the first thing you can do is try to force the smell out. Pick a warm day, and make sure you don’t have any papers or garbage in the car that could fly out while you're driving.
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    • If you don’t want to drive around with the windows open, leave the car in the driveway with the windows down and the doors open on a windy day, and hopefully some of the smell will blow out.[3]
  2. Sprinkle everything with baking soda. Certain smells, like smoke, can get into everything in a car, and sprinkling baking soda everywhere will help draw out and neutralize some of the odors that are in the seats and floors.[4]
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    • Don’t forget the floor mats, under the floor mats, and the space between the back seats and the rear window.
    • Be sure the floors and upholstery are completely dry before you sprinkle on the baking soda.
    • Let the baking soda sit for three to four hours.[5]
  3. Vacuum the interior. This is important to clean up the baking soda, but it will also help remove bad odors, plus any dirt or crumbs that are in the car. Be sure to use the upholstery attachment so that you can get into all the nooks and crannies between the seats, under the seats, and elsewhere.[6]
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    • When you're finished vacuuming, leave the floor mats out of the car.
  4. Spot clean tough stains. When you know of specific stains or marks in your car that need cleaning, spot clean them with a rag and the appropriate cleaner. The right cleaner will depend on what kind of stain you're dealing with:[7]
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    • Tackle mold and mildew with disinfectant sprays.
    • Address bodily fluids (such as vomit) and food stains with bio-enzymatic cleaners.
    • For really powerful smells—think skunk—use an oxidizing cleaner.
  5. Wipe down the interior with vinegar and water. In a clean spray bottle, mix a fifty-fifty solution of white vinegar and water. Starting with the driver seat, spray down the entire seat with the solution and then wipe it with a lint-free or microfiber cloth. Then do the passenger seat, followed by the back seats, the dash, the floors, the mats, and any remaining surfaces.[8]Then
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    • It may take a while for the vinegar smell to dissipate, but it will work to help remove most smells, even cigarette smoke.[9]
  6. Clean the mats. Fill a bucket with several drops of dish soap and some warm water. Place the mats on the lawn, driveway, or garage floor. Dip a shoe brush in the soapy water and scrub the mats with the suds. When you're finished, spray the mats with water from a hose or pressure washer.[10]
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    • Hang the mats to dry over a railing or on a clothesline.
  7. Deodorize the car. There are many products that you can use that will neutralize odors in your car, and you can actually leave the products in the car to continue working even after you remove the smell.
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    • Place some freshly ground coffee beans in a jar with a plastic lid. Poke holes in the lid and place the jar somewhere in your car.[11]
    • Keep an open box of baking soda in your car to absorb and neutralize smells.[12]
    • Leave a few orange peels under the front seat to neutralize odors and leave a fresh citrus smell in the car.[13]
    • Charcoal is another traditional odor neutralizer, so you can even place a couple lumps under the driver or passenger seat to control smells in your car.[14]

[Edit]Odor Prevention

  1. Don’t leave food and drinks in the car. It can be easy to forget that sandwich in the back seat, or the cereal that spilled the other day, or the leftover apple in the cup holder, but always make an effort to remember to clean these things from your car daily. Food will rot quickly in a car, and what began as a mildly unpleasant odor can quickly become an unshakable smell of decaying organic matter.
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  2. Take out the garbage. Never leave garbage in your car, especially when it’s food related. This includes wrappers, fast food bags and containers, coffee cups, and any other refuse. When you exit your car at the end of the day, take with you any garbage you’ve accumulated over the day and recycle or dispose of it properly.[15]
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  3. Clean up food spills immediately. If you're driving when a spill occurs, pull over when it’s safe to do so and remove food spills and soak up any liquids you can.[16] When you get home or to a car wash, address the spot with a cleaner, such as soapy water, vinegar, or another cleaner of your choice.
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    • It’s a good idea to keep a few old towels or paper towels in the car to deal with emergencies and spills.
  4. Run the blower and the air-conditioning periodically. Air-conditioning systems get quite damp, and this can lead to mold growth and bad smells in the car. To prevent this, turn on the air-conditioning and the blower weekly or every two weeks. Allow the air-conditioning to blow for about 10 minutes.[17]
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[Edit]Related wikiHows


[Edit]Quick Summary

  2. [v161011_b01]. 16 February 2021.
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