Best 8 Ways To Get Rid Of Bad Smells In A Car

This is a detailed guide on how to get rid of bad smells in a car.

If you have been having difficulties getting rid of bad smells from your cars, I am here to save you the stress.

In this guide, First I will show you why you have those foul odors in your car.

I will also teach you how to get rid of the bad smells in a car.

Finally, I will show you how to prevent them from reoccurring.

Why Do You Have Bad Smell In Your Car?

Imagine the experience of getting back into your car after a long day at work to be greeted by a foul smell.

This can be really frustrating and annoying and could be the worst of experiences for some people.

The uncomfortable feeling that comes with this experience could make you become willing to pay any price to get rid of the bad smell.

But you can successfully get rid of the smell on an occasion only to have a reoccurrence at another moment.

Therefore, understanding where the odor is coming from will go a long way in helping you to bring long-term sanity.

You will find out that even when you try your possible best to keep clean, this bad smell is sometimes inevitable.

And you’ve always been asking why?

Note that bad smell can be caused by a mechanical fault and those would be resolved mechanically.

But if otherwise, here are some causes of bad smell in a car:

1. Forgotten Food

When you eat or take a drink in your car, a little drop or spill you may overlook can breed bad odor over time.

Foods and drinks most times contain moisture. And if dropped or spilled on seat cushions and carpet padding, they will dry out and cause humidity to rise in your car.

And this can eventually become a source of bad odor.

2. Forgotten Clothes

When you wear a clothing material, shirts, socks, and so on, the sweat from your skin soaks into the clothing.

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If these clothes are left in the car over time, Like in the case of forgotten foods, moisture from the clothes may cause some foul smell in the car.

3. Smoke

This may not be general for a group of people that don’t smoke.

But cigarette smoke is another source of the smell in cars.

Smoke from cigarettes penetrates upholstery, carpet, hard surfaces.

And it infiltrates the air system inside the car. Thereby, bringing a bad smell.

4. Weather

Weather is a natural factor that influences bad smells in cars.

If in a rainy season, there would be moisture all around.

Snow also causes the environment to be moist.

Entering your car with a moist shoe during these weather conditions can leave moisture on your floor carpets and mats.

And once it soaks into the mat or carpet, it can cause a bad smell.

5. Water Leakage

Another way through which your car can get moist is from leakages.

Leakages can be from either of the following:

  • Leaving your window open when it’s raining.
  • A messy bodywork by auto repairers.
  • Fading away of the body parts from old usage
  • And more.

Moisture from these leakages that soaks into the car seat, leather carpets, and so on may cause a bad odor.

6. Evaporator

Every air-conditioned car has evaporators that help to keep the air dry.

Moisture from the air may however be retained in the evaporator due to some inconsistencies.

The water may then find its way back to the car and soak into the car.

Otherwise, the moisture can evaporate slowly but not completely leaving a bad smell on the evaporator a d back into the car.

How To Get Rid of Bad Smells In A Car

Now that you are aware of how your once pleasantly scenting car became filled with foul air, the next thing is to ask how do you neutralize this bad smell?

In this section, how to remove odor from car seats and mats.

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1. Locate The Source And Remove The Cause

The first step I’ll share with you on how to get rid of bad smell in your car is to find where the smell is coming from.

You will play the role of a detective here to inspect and locate the main source and remove it.

Sources could be one of the listed causes above.

2. Apply Baking Soda

One of the efficient ways to neutralize a bad smell after removing the source is to apply Baking soda in the car to remove the odor.

If you spilled a drink or you had food leftovers on the seat or carpet, applying baking soda on it can take care of the smell that follows.

Apply the baking soda in your car and leave it for some hours during which it will absorb any free smell.

Then vacuum up the baking soda after those few hours.

You can also apply and leave it overnight preferably.

3. Use Of Charcoal

Surprised? Don’t be!

Using charcoal to remove odors in the car also works really well.

It is a deodorizer that can help you to get rid of a bad smell in your car.

Like Baking soda, Charcoal is one of the best things to absorb odors.

Leave a few charcoal briquettes in your car overnight. And it will help absorb the bad smell.

4. Vacuum And Steam Cleaning

More often than not, odors may become trapped in the upholstery, carpet, or fabric interior of the car.

So you can work the vacuum all around making use of the upholstery attachment.

It will surely help get rid of particles that are contributing to the smell.

You can also steam clean. Perhaps you feel vacuuming wouldn’t be enough.

5. White Vinegar

White Vinegar is a natural, antibacterial, and anti-fungal mix.

It can be used to treat foul odors because of its effectiveness in fighting against food or mold odors.

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You can easily apply White vinegar to remove smell in your car because it can be used on clothes and leather car seats without causing damage to them.

When applied on clothes, leave it to dry. But when applied on leather seats, wipe it off moments later.

6. Natural Air Freshener

Another great way to have a nice smelling atmosphere in your car is to apply air fresheners to your car.

Although this may not last long if applied as the first step in getting rid of a bad smell.

But it is more effective if applied after you have removed the source of the odor and have deodorized the car entirely.

Therefore, don’t use air fresheners to cover bad smells, only use them when the bad are already deodorized.

7. Hire Professionals

If you have tried to get rid of bad smells in your car with little or no success, you might want to consider hiring a professional cleaner.

In some cases, this may cost more than the other methods but it is an assuring way of getting your car deodorized completely.

8. Guard Against A Reoccurrence.

Now that you have been able to get rid of the bad smell in your car, the final step is to never let it happen again.


  • Remove food particles.
  • Wash and dry moist clothes.
  • Clean up the car after a moist day.
  • Avoid smoking in the car if possible. Or clean up always after smoking.
  • Patronize qualified personnel for your car’s body works.

That would be all on how to get rid of bad smells in a car.

Hope this was helpful?

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