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Top 5 Ways to Remove Odors From Your Car

2023 Sep 14th

Top 5 Ways to Remove Odors From Your Car

Posted by David Jones

Top 5 Ways to Remove Bad Odors From Your Car

Eww! No one likes the unwelcome surprise of a stinky car interior. It doesn't matter if it smells like old mold, stale cigarettes, or wet dogs, you don't want to drive or ride in that car. All you want to do is remove the odor from your car. Lingering odors can be a sign of something worse than just a dirty dog; they can lead you to deeper issues like a leaking heater core or a missing window molding. Trying to mask odors with a car interior deodorizer can make it worse.

No matter what is causing the odor, you want to do everything you can to remove the smell from car seats and refresh your interior. We've compiled this blog post with the best ways to deodorize a car.

Other than the usual suspects like the dog and smoking, other things can cause your car's interior to stink. Here are some common causes of odors in vehicles:

Food and Drink Spills: Not to blame everything on the kids, but if one of them decides they don't want the pickle on their hamburger, they may stuff it down between the seats where it will lay and rot until it stinks. Likewise, drink spills that aren't cleaned up immediately, especially milk, will curdle and start to smell.

Mold and Mildew: Like the leaking heater core and missing window molding, if you smell mold or mildew in your cabin, there's a good chance there's a leak somewhere. Common leak areas include sunroof rails, door membranes and seals, cabin filters, and weatherstripping. While most of these leaks are minor, if you let them go, they can become major, which can mean more expensive repairs to rusted metal or ruined carpet.

Other odor sources can be chemical spills from air fresheners, cleaning materials, and other substances like hand sanitizer bottles.

Why Odors in Your Car are a Problem

It's not just that the interior stinks, but odors can cause problems and cost money.

Health Concerns: Mold and mildew can pose respiratory issues, especially for those with allergies. A moldy cabin filter can make your eyes water, nose run, and throat scratchy.

Decreased Car Value: A car that smells bad can decrease its resale value. If you can't find the source of the problem, you may never be able to sell the vehicle for much more than a parts car.

Indicators of Bigger Issues: Persistent odors might hint at water leaks, mechanical problems, or overlooked spills. If a smell lingers, don't think it will go away on its own. You'll have to find out where it's coming from before you can remove it.

Our Top 5 Tips for Getting Rid of Odors in Your Car

Even if you're not in the market to sell your car, you want to drive something that smells fresh and is healthy for everyone. We've put together a list of 5 tips on how to get odor out of your car. Here they are:

Tip 1: Use Charcoal to Absorb Odors

Activated charcoal is a potent odor absorber that will neutralize car odor. Place a bag of activated charcoal in your car for a few days. The porous nature of the charcoal will help absorb and neutralize bad smells. You can buy activated charcoal in most big box stores, hardware stores, and discount dollar stores.

H3 Tip 2: Mix White Vinegar and Water for Surface Cleaning

A solution of equal parts white vinegar and water can be used to wipe down hard surfaces inside the car. Not only does it help remove odors, but it also disinfects.

Tip 3: Use Baking Soda to Remove Odors and Stains

For fabric seats and carpets, generously sprinkle baking soda and let it sit for a few hours (or overnight) before vacuuming it. Baking soda is known to neutralize and absorb odors effectively. If you're wondering how to get mold smell out of a car, baking soda removes car odor, leaving your interior fresh smelling.

Tip 4: Clean Spills Right Away

Being proactive can save you a lot of hassle. Clean a spill, especially of food or drinks, immediately to prevent it from setting and emitting an odor.

Tip 5: Maintain a Clean Car to Prevent Future Odors

Regular cleaning routines, like vacuuming the interiors, washing car mats, and airing out your car, can help prevent the build-up of odors over time.

When to Call a Professional

While these DIY methods can tackle a majority of odor issues, some stubborn smells might require professional attention to remove the odor from the car. Sometimes, only a professional can get mildew smells out of the car. This is particularly true if you suspect mold growth from water leaks or the car's previous owner smoked. Professional detailing can guarantee a deeper clean, ensuring all nooks and crannies are odor-free.


A fresh-smelling car isn't just a pleasure to drive; it also speaks volumes about its maintenance and care, which raises its value when it's time to sell it. By understanding the root causes of odors, addressing them promptly, and maintaining regular cleaning practices, you can ensure your car remains a pleasant and safe environment for all its occupants. And when in doubt, always consider calling in the experts for a thorough cleanup.