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Remove Car Odors: Say Goodbye to Unpleasant Smells

Remove Car Odors and Smells How To Guide

Car odors can be a nuisance, especially if they linger and become difficult to remove. Whether it’s the smell of cigarette smoke, pet odor, or musty mildew, car odors can make driving an unpleasant experience.

In this article, we’ll explore some effective strategies to remove car odors and get your car smelling fresh again.

Clean the Interior to Remove Car Odors

Remove Trash

The first step in removing car odors is thoroughly cleaning the interior. Next, remove any trash, food, or other debris contributing to the smell.


It’s important to vacuum all car surfaces to remove loose dirt or debris. This includes carpets, floor mats, seats, the dashboard, and air conditioning vents. Removing loose dirt or debris prevents these particles from becoming trapped in the car’s upholstery, surfaces, and vents and causing odors. In addition, a handheld vacuum can be beneficial for reaching tight spaces.

Wipe Clean

Use a cleaning solution to wipe down all the car’s interior surfaces, including the dashboard, seats, and door panels. Be sure to use a cleaner designed for your car’s surfaces, such as leather, vinyl, or cloth.

Air Out the Car to Remove Car Odors

After cleaning the interior, it’s important to air out the car. Roll down the windows and let fresh air circulate through the vehicle for at least 30 minutes. If possible, park the car in a sunny spot and open all the doors to let the sunlight and fresh air do their job.

Use an Air Freshener to Remove Car Odors

Once the car is clean and aired out, you can use an air freshener to keep it smelling fresh. Hanging air fresheners can be a simple and effective way to add a pleasant scent to the car’s interior. These air fresheners come in various scents and can be hung from the rearview mirror or placed in a cup holder. Some popular scents include linen, lavender, vanilla, and citrus, and they come in sprays, plug-ins, and vent clips.

Choose an air freshener you like and place it in your car according to the instructions. Be careful not to use too much, as overpowering fragrances can be just as unpleasant as the original bad smell.

Car Odor Absorbers

Using an odor absorber can be an effective way to keep the car interior smelling fresh over time. These products work by absorbing particles and moisture in the air. Some popular options are activated charcoal, baking soda, and coffee grounds. These products are natural and safe to use in the car.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a natural and powerful odor absorber that can remove bad smells from your car’s interior. Sprinkle baking soda on the carpets and seats, let it sit for a few hours, and then vacuum it up. You can also put a small bowl of baking soda in your car and let it sit overnight to absorb odors. Or place it in a mesh bag and hang it in the car to absorb odors over time.

Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is another effective odor absorber. You can find activated charcoal in small bags or pouches that you can place in your car. Activated charcoal absorbs odors and pollutants, making it an excellent option for removing car odors.

Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds are another natural odor absorber that can remove car odors. Put a small bowl of dry coffee grounds in your car and let it sit for a few hours or overnight. The coffee grounds will absorb odors and leave your car smelling fresh.

Other Ways to Eliminate Car Odors

In addition to the strategies mentioned above, there are a few other ways to eliminate car odors.

Use Vinegar

Vinegar is a natural odor neutralizer and can be sprayed on carpets and upholstery to remove odors.

Mix equal vinegar and water in a spray bottle and apply to interior surfaces. Let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it away with a clean cloth. The vinegar smell will dissipate quickly, leaving your car smelling fresh.

Use Ozone

Ozone is a powerful odor eliminator that can remove even the most stubborn car odors. Ozone generators produce ozone gas, which reacts with odor-causing molecules to break them down. However, ozone can be dangerous if not used properly, so it’s essential to follow the instructions carefully and use caution when using an ozone generator.

Use a Powerful Car Steam Cleaner

A powerful car steam cleaner can effectively remove stubborn odors from the interior. These cleaners use high-pressure steam to penetrate the upholstery and carpets, removing dirt, stains, and odors. They are used to clean the air conditioning system, removing mold or mildew that may be causing unpleasant smells. However, steam cleaning can be time-consuming and require special equipment, so it may not be practical for everyone.

Use a Car Odor Eliminator

A car odor eliminator is a product designed to remove unpleasant odors from the interior of a car. Many car odor eliminators are available, including sprays, gels, and air fresheners. These products work by neutralizing or absorbing the odor molecules rather than simply masking them with a fragrance.

Replace the Cabin Air Filter

If your car has a cabin air filter, you must replace it regularly to keep your car smelling fresh. The cabin air filter removes pollutants and odors from the air before it enters the cabin, so a dirty or clogged filter can contribute to unpleasant odors in the car. Check your car’s owner’s manual for instructions on how to replace the cabin air filter.

Get Mildew Smell Out of a Car’s Air Conditioner

If your car’s air conditioner has a musty smell, mold or mildew growth in the air conditioning system might be the cause. Run the air conditioning on high with the windows down for a few minutes to remove this smell. This can help to dry out any moisture in the system. You can also use a specialized air conditioner cleaner to remove mold and mildew.

Address the Source of the Car Odor

For best results, it’s essential to address the source of the odor to prevent it from returning.

Pet Odors

If pets cause the odor, consider using a pet odor neutralizer or limiting your pet’s time in the car.

Mold and Mildew

One of the most unpleasant car odors is caused by mold and mildew. These fungi can grow in damp car areas, such as carpets, seats, and air conditioning systems, and can cause a musty, sour smell. If mold and mildew cause the odor, it may be necessary to address any moisture issues in the car to prevent mold from growing. After resolving the moisture issue, you can use cleaning and odor-absorbing strategies to eliminate the odor.

You can use vinegar to clean the air conditioning system, removing mold or mildew that may be causing unpleasant smells.

Use an odor eliminator specifically designed for mildew.

You can also use an air dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the car.

Cigarette Smoke

Cigarette smoke is another common car odor that can be difficult to remove. If smoking causes an odor, it may be necessary to stop smoking in the car or limit smoking to designated areas. To eliminate cigarette smoke smells, thoroughly clean the car’s interior. Be sure to vacuum the carpets, seats, and air conditioning vents. Once the interior is clean, you can use an air freshener or odor eliminator specifically designed to eliminate the lingering odor of cigarette smoke.

You can also try an air purifier.

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In conclusion, removing car odors can be challenging, but with the right strategies, it’s possible to get your car smelling fresh again. Cleaning the interior, airing out the car, using air fresheners and odor absorbers, replacing the cabin air filter, and addressing the odor source are all effective ways to eliminate odors from your vehicle. With patience and persistence, you can enjoy a fresh-smelling car that makes driving a more pleasant experience. Remember to give your car the ultimate clean by bringing it to Anytime Touchless Car Wash. You’ll have access to convenient vacuums and car detailing vending machines. Pamper your car with tire shine, glass cleaner, air fresheners, leather conditioner, bug & tar remover, microfiber towels, and more! Finally, a thorough exterior cleaning can complement your efforts to remove interior odors and leave your vehicle looking and smelling like new.


What’s the best odor eliminator for your car?

There are many effective odor eliminators for cars, but activated charcoal and ozone generators are often considered among the best.

Does baking soda or vinegar remove car odors?

Yes, both baking soda and vinegar can help remove car odors. Baking soda is great for absorbing odors, while vinegar acts as a natural deodorizer.

Can you get a musty smell out of a car?

Yes, a musty smell can be eliminated from a car by thoroughly cleaning the interior, addressing any moisture issues, and using odor absorbers or deodorizers.

How can you remove odors from cloth car seats?

To remove odors from cloth car seats, vacuum the seats to remove any loose debris, then use a fabric cleaner or upholstery shampoo designed for cars to clean the seats. Allow them to dry completely and use an odor absorber or air freshener to eliminate lingering smells.