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How To Get Rid Of Bad Smells In Your Car


We all love that new smell when opening the doors of a newly purchased car. But over time, this smell fades away, and a foul stale odor takes its place no matter how clean the car is. Carpets, upholstery, mats, and semi-soft surfaces serve as the source of a foul smell. 

The stale odor usually comes from things like mildew and mold. However, sometimes the smell also comes from organic materials like food residue, coffee spills, eggshells, pet hair, cigarettes, marijuana, etc. A strange smell can make the whole environment unpleasant. So getting rid of this smell is very necessary for hygiene, cleanliness, and soothing drive.


The first step for getting rid of the smell is vacuuming the car. The fabric in your car usually traps the odors. So start with vacuuming the interior, even the door panel. Attach upholstery to your vacuum for detailed cleaning of all the cracks to remove the odor-causing debris. Because if you don’t eliminate all sources of odor, it can reappear quickly.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a great inexpensive ingredient that also serves as a deodorant. Along with odors, it also removes stubborn stains from the surface. Spray it everywhere, from door to mats. Let the baking soda sit for at least 15 minutes. Still, if the smell is very persistent, sprinkle baking soda on the affected area and leave it overnight.

Steam Cleaner

Steam cleaning is the best and most efficient solution for cleaning all vehicle interiors and freshening the air. Commercial steam cleaners thoroughly clean and sanitize every inch of your car’s cabin. This process removes dirt and unwanted microscopic particles like pollen, mold, bacteria, and viruses. In addition, these come with a complete tool kit helping detailers to enter hard-to-reach areas where bad odors can hide.

Mild Detergent

Another way is to use a mild commercial detergent made from natural substances together with steam. Commercial car cleaners contain molecules that remove odors making the interior smell fresher. Always prefer the gentlest spray cleaner to do the job, as they are an environmentally friendly deodorizing method. When removing cigarette and marijuana odors from a car, clean the headliner carefully as it absorbs the odors from these materials.

Distilled White Vinegar

Distilled white vinegar is one of the most straightforward and inexpensive solutions to remove odor from your car. Mix white vinegar and water in a 1:2 ratio. Spray the solution on the smelly area and repeat the process until the smell is gone. It is a natural, antibacterial, and antifungal mixture that makes it particularly effective against food odors or mold. Also, you can use it on cloth and leather car seats. It also works great on cars that smell like smoke.

Steaming Of Engine Bay


Do not forget to pay attention to the engine. Sometimes unpleasant odors can emanate from the engine due to the accumulation of dirt and debris. The smells can enter the car through the ventilation openings of the engine. Always clean the engine with a steamer, degrease it with a degreaser and then rinse it with water to eliminate these odors building up on interior areas and door panels. Lastly, clean it with a microfiber cloth.

Ozone Generator

After a thorough cleaning, treatment with an ozone generator can help you if you still smell some chemical odor. Typically, it takes 15-30 minutes to complete an ozone treatment cycle and leave the car door open for ventilation. This final touch will leave the car odor-free.

Essential Oil

If you’ve tried everything else and there’s still a faint odor, a few drops of essential oil can save you. It masks bad odors like smoke for a long time and acts as a pleasant air freshener. Essential oils have fragrances, including blends. However, essential oils can become overwhelming if you use too much fragrance. Just put a few drops on a tissue and keep it somewhere near the back seat.


This is another purchase like charcoal that you can easily get from the aquarium section of any pet store near you. Although it is more expensive than other options, it is reusable. Put a piece of zeolite in your car and let it do its job. Once it has done its job, keep the piece in direct sunlight to let absorbed odors fade to make it fit for next use.

Natural air freshener 

The most potent and long-term tactic to avoid smell is always keeping your favorite scent in your car. You can go for vanilla on cotton balls, citrus oils, or a container of coffee beans. 


Charcoal helps you get rid of odor from your car, especially organic odors like mold, food, or sweat. Just take a piece of activated charcoal and leave it for a few days in your vehicle. You may find it in a pet store. You can also go for charcoal briquettes if you want something cheaper. 

Repeat Cleaning

Some areas might require repeated cleaning to remove the odor. Use a steamer and shampoo for the stubborn smell. Do not hesitate to clean the car multiple times to eradicate the smell. 

Apply a Kevlar Coating

Once you complete all the cleaning, apply a Kevlar coating. It is a ceramic coating that protects areas like floor mats, hard surfaces, and seats. It leaves a fresh fragrance behind, making your car smell good. 


Car smells are not only mood killers but are also an embarrassment for the owner. Following the hacks and methods given in this blog would help you cast out the bad smell from your car and make riding a pleasant experience for you and your fellow passengers.