How to Remove Bad Odors From Car

Considering you spend most of your time in the interior of a car, you need it to always smell fresh for a relaxing journey. Because your car is more than just a mode of transport, it’s your personal space. And there’s nothing worse than a car with an unpleasant odour in the cabin. This blog will tell you everything you need to know on how to remove bad odours from car. It will significantly improve your driving experience and leave a positive impression on both you and your passengers.

You can maximise your driving comfort by organising your interior for a clutter-free cabin.

Why Do You Need to Know How to Remove Bad Odours From Car

Imagine you open your car door and are greeted with that new car smell. It immediately has a calming effect on your mood, creating a comfortable atmosphere on your daily drives. Your mundane day is automatically turned into a delight.

But a pleasant-smelling interior goes beyond just personal comfort. It can also contribute to overall well-being and a healthy lifestyle. Lingering odours such as those from dampness, pollution, cigarette smoke, pets, food items and smoke can affect the air quality within your vehicle. This can lead to breathing difficulties and a general feeling of discomfort over time. Lingering bad odours may seem like an inconvenience at first, but they can introduce pollutants and allergens which can affect your health and wellbeing.

Negative Effects of Bad Odours in Your Car

Before we how to remove bad odours from car let’s understand how it can cause an undesirable driving experience.

Dampness and Mold

Moisture can lead to the growth of fungus, mildew and other organisms that thrive in a damp atmosphere. When these allergens become airborne, they are inhaled while breathing and lead to respiratory issues.

Pollution and Contaminants

Vehicle exhaust fumes, dust and industrial emissions can seep into the interior and contribute to a stale and polluted smell. This leads to a feeling of discomfort when you are gasping for fresh air on your daily drives.

Odours in the Ac Vents

The lingering smell of cigarette smoke in the cabin can be a serious health concern. These nasty odours circulate through the Ac ventilation system and end up on upholstery, carpets, etc.

Pet Hair

If you travel with pets in the car, there’s a chance of shedding their fur all over the interior. This can trigger an allergic reaction in people with sensitivities.

Food and Drinks

Accident spills and snack wrappers can harbour harmful bacteria and mold. As the bacteria decompose stale food particles, you are left with unpleasant odours and poor air quality inside the cabin.

Unclean Cabin

An interior filled with dust, dirt and other contaminates further contributes to a musty smell that is difficult to remove. Poor ventilation makes the situation worse and over time you will be reluctant to travel in the car because of uncleanliness.

Step-by-step Guide on How to Remove Odor From Your Car

Follow this procedure to successfully remove unpleasant smells from your car for a clean and fresh interior.

You will need these supplies:

  1. Portable vacuum cleaner
  2. Baking soda or activated charcoal
  3. White vinegar
  4. Microfibre cleaning cloths
  5. Air freshener or car perfume
  6. Interior detailing solution
  7. Leather and dashboard cleaner
  8. Soft brushes

Start by removing all the clutter from your cabin. This includes any trash, debris, personal items, car floor mats, etc. (You can clean car floor mats separately outside the car)

Auto detailing and Car care

Vacuum the interior, seats, dashboard, carpets and trunk. Pay special attention to hard-to-reach areas.

For specific stains, use a mixture of water and soap from a spray bottle. Rub the area gently with a microfibre cloth.

You can use a fabric cleaner for more difficult-to-clean areas.

Sprinkle baking soda in small amounts all over the floor or place activated charcoal in an open container overnight. These substances are natural odour absorbers.

The next day, vacuum again until all the residue is removed.

For the next step, mix white vinegar with water in a spray bottle and use it all over the upholstery, carpets and other interior surfaces. This is a good method on how to remove the smoke smell from a car.

Wipe down the sprayed areas with a clean, microfibre towel to remove any vinegar smell and other odours.

If you are wondering how to get rid of odour from car vents, you have to air out the car by opening all doors and windows. Do this on a sunny day, and allow fresh air to circulate through the car. This will get rid of any remaining odours.

Place a few drops of your favourite essential oil on a cotton ball and keep them under the seats. You can even install an air freshener on the dashboard or centre console. Air fresheners come in many shapes and sizes in the form of gel can, spray, diffuser and hanging type.

Car Air Freshener

Establish a cleaning routine to keep the interior free of odours. This includes vacuuming, brushing and wiping down all interior surfaces with the help of an interior detailing product. Regularly airing out the car can also make a significant difference.

Consistency is the key in prevents odours from reoccurring in the future. By following this step-by-step process, you can drive around in a fresh-smelling car so that you stay relaxed and comfortable on every journey.


By understanding the common culprits behind bad odours and mastering the art of effective odour removal, you can drive in an environment of freshness and comfort. Addressing the root cause is important because each odour has to be handled differently. Your dedication towards a clean cabin will also benefit your passengers, who will find the car an inviting place to travel in.

Just using an air freshener may not be sufficient as this will only mask the smell temporarily. Instead, earmark a regular vacuuming session followed by wiping down all interior surfaces with a fabric cleaner. Getting rid of trash and eliminating sources of mold and dampness will put you on the path towards a hygienic and tidy car interior, without any unpleasant odours.

If you liked this post on how to get rid of bad odours from your car, you should check out the Carorbis Blog. Here you’ll find more informative articles, how-to guides and automotive-related content for the car and bike enthusiast.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How To Remove Bad Smell From Car Interior?

Ans. In order to have a fresh-smelling interior you need to start by cleaning all cabin surfaces, including the seats, carpets, dashboards, consoles, doors, etc. A natural ingredient you can use is a solution of baking soda and water to scrub the interior surfaces. Allow the mixture to sit for a while it absorbs all the unpleasant odours. Some other natural remedies to get your cabin smelling great again are activated charcoal placed in bags in the car. 

Q2. How To Remove Smell From New Car?

Ans. New car smell is usually a pleasant fragrance but it can be overpowering sometimes. New seats, plastic trim, rubber material and vinyl can have a distinct smell that you associate with new cars. If you want to get rid of that new car smell, begin by keeping the windows open to let fresh air circulate through the cabin. You can use mild soap and water to clean the interior or place coffee grounds in a bowl in the centre console (to absorb any odours). Avoid using the Ac for long as the new car smell will circulate through the vents.

Checkout here The Best Car Air Fresheners For Smokers

Q3. How To Remove Mildew Smell From A Car?

Ans. Mildew is a type of fungus that grows in areas with excess moisture or poor ventilation. To combat mildew smells, clean the affected area with vinegar and water. Then dry out the car by parking it in the sun for a few hours. Consider using an upholstery cleaner for the seats and the carpets, as they can get rid of mildew, leaving a refreshing scent in your car. Take out carpets and clean them thoroughly with soap and water. If they are too old, consider replacing them with all-weather or rubber carpets which are resistant to mildew formation.

Q4. How To Remove Fungus Smell From Car?

Ans. The fungus can be tricky to get rid of as it has a tendency to spread and grow in areas where you can’t reach such as in between centre consoles, under seats, etc. A mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water is effective against fungus and prevents it from coming back. The key is to remove all traces of moisture from your car interior. Wipe down surfaces with a clean, dry microfibre cloth

Q5. How To Get Rid Of Cigarette Smell From Your Car?

Ans. Cigarette smell can be difficult to remove as it permeates the fibres of seat upholstery, carpets, etc. A mixture of vinegar and water is effective at neutralising cigarette smell. You can even sprinkle baking soda on the carpets and then vacuum it after a while. Drive with the car windows rolled down to circulate air through the cabin.

Q6. How To Remove Damp Smell From A Car?

Ans. The damp smell is due to moisture retention in the cabin. This leads to the growth of fungus around the interior. Use a dehumidifier in the car or place moisture-absorbing packets around the cabin. Consider using an odour eliminator that is specifically designed for dampness and mildew. Dry out wet car floor mats and wipe all surfaces until they are dry.

Q7. How To Remove The Skunk Smell From A Car?

Ans. Dealing with skunk odours requires a multi-stage approach that begins with airing out the car. Place a bowl of vinegar to absorb all the unpleasant smells. Skunk odours can linger for a long time, so you will need an enzyme-based cleaner to neutralise those smells. Activated charcoal works well as it will continue to absorb undesirable odours.

Q8. How To Remove The Vomit Smell From A Car?

Ans. Remove all traces of vomit and clean affected areas with a mixture of water and baking soda. The odour molecules need to be broken down, so you will need an interior cleaning product capable of removing the smell of vomit. Most upholstery and carpet cleaning products contain the right chemicals to refresh your cabin space. They require to be sprayed on the affected surface and wiped clean with a microfibre cloth.

Q9. How To Remove Smoke Smell From A Used Car?

Ans. Smoke and pollution are inevitable on Indian roads and you will have to wash your seats, dashboard, upholstery and trim with mild soap and water to neutralise odours. An air purifier is useful to circulate fresh air and get rid of lingering smells in the cabin.

Q10. How To Remove Dog Odor From A Car?

Ans. Pets often leave fur behind in the car interior which can be eliminated by using a soft brush and then vacuuming. Consider using a pet-specific odour eliminator spray which can neutralize smells for good.

Q11. How To Remove Bad Smell From The Carpet?

Ans. Carpets should be uninstalled from the interior and then cleaned with soap and water. If they are not washable, then use a brush and vacuum all the dirt and debris from the surface of the car floor mats. You may have to steam clean carpets for more stubborn odours but the results are long-lasting and you will have a clean-smelling cabin for some time this way.

Q12. How To Get Rid Of Bad Odor From Car Vents?

Ans. Turn on the Ac and spray a vent cleaning product into the intake. This will circulate through the ventilation system and remove substances contributing to bad odours. You can even use a vent deodorizer or place an odour-absorbing sachet near the vents. Switch the Ac mode to circulate outside air which should help refresh the cabin.

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