How to remove an odor from your car

We’ve all been there – you get in your car, ready to hit the road, and instead, something appalling hits your nostrils. Be it various engine smells, mildew, something rotten or simply smoke, you shouldn’t expose yourself to any of these for too long.

Luckily, we’ve compiled a neat guide on how to remove bad odors from your car.

Identifying The Cause

The first step towards fixing an issue is finding it. If the source of bad odor isn’t obvious (or sitting in the passenger seat), you might need to play detective.

First and foremost, make sure to check the trunk and all the compartments in case you left something that causes the smell there. Also, look for anything rotten under the seats or in the pockets. Lastly, it might be the case that someone might have stepped on something and dragged that with them in the car, so check the floor mats as well.

If you’ve identified the odor-causing object, dispose of it accordingly. Don’t forget to leave the doors open for some time to allow the odor to dissipate. If that doesn’t do the trick, the smell could be coming from the engine as well, but more on that later.

Cleaning Floor Mats and Upholstery

In most cases, the smell isn’t plainly visible, so the next step to odor-proofing your car would be utilizing the good old vacuum cleaner. The upholstery and the floor mats can retain bad car odors in their fiber, so make sure to vacuum them and air them out occasionally.

For certain materials, there are steam cleaning options as well.

Getting Rid of Mildew

Mold or mildew odors are certainly among the nastier ones out there. If you’re often experiencing musty smells, you might have a mildew problem. When it comes to these smells, the culprit is usually the lack of ventilation or higher humidity levels in the car.

Again, the solution here is fairly simple – wet or dry vacuuming the upholstery or the trunk can eliminate these problems, and in some lesser cases, a hair dryer would be more than enough.

Another cause might be a malfunctioning air conditioning system. In most cases, general dampness around that area is nearly a sure-fire sign that you should check it out. If the odor is coming directly from the air conditioner, open the front cover, and clean the filter inside. A cotton swab or a paper towel should prove sufficient.

When you’re certain that the areas you’ve cleaned are completely dry, you can apply anti-mildew solutions, such as baking soda, and let it sit for approximately ten minutes. After that, simply wipe it clean or vacuum it again, depending on the type of surface.

Car Engine Smells

A car engine is a complex machine with a lot of moving parts. Most of them can produce unwanted odors that signify an underlying issue and should be resolved as soon as possible. However, you can’t do much about most of them by yourself, so it’s important that you contact a professional in certain cases.

  • Sweet, syrupy odors are usually caused by an antifreeze leak in the cooling system.
  • Burning smells are generally an indication that you might have an oil leak somewhere in the engine or exhaust, but they might come from overheated brake pads or rotors as well.
  • Burning rubber smells, though, are a different thing entirely. These might be a result of a malfunctioning accessory drive belt or an overheated clutch plate.
  • If these descriptions are unlikely to be the cause of a burning smell, another cause might be a short-circuit of some electrical component. We shouldn’t have to point out that you’re to take an issue like this very seriously and address it by visiting a professional.

Eliminating Cigarette Smoke Odor from Your Car

If you smoke in the car or you happen to be driving a passenger who decides to light one up, you might have to deal with cigarette smoke odor issues. The pesky thing about cigarette smoke is that it tends to seep in everywhere. It also leaves behind tar that sticks to most surfaces and causes the bad odor to linger.

Under these circumstances, you should make it a habit to frequently empty the ashtray. Apart from that, you can always wipe the interior panels and windows with rubbing alcohol. However, do remember to air the car out after using this cleaning method.

If you want to learn more tips on how to eliminate smoke efficiently, head over to How To Remove Smoke Odor From Your Car.

To Summarize…

As you may have realized, there rarely is a better way to remove bad car odors other than a thorough cleaning. But, if the unpleasant car odors are too frequent or you just want to minimize the hassle, you could always get a Car Air Purifier for your vehicle to improve the quality of the air inside your car.