There are some car odors which are indicative of a mechanical issue that needs your attention. For example, a burned rubber smell may indicate that your brakes or clutch need attention, a burning oil smell may indicate an oil leak, and a strong, sulfur smell may indicate a problem with the catalytic converter.
But if your car simply smells musty, “lived in”, or a bit like your son’s long forgotten soccer cleats no one’s seen since the season ended, get in there and try these simple steps to bring some freshness back.
(1) Go through your vehicle and remove all “smelly” items: dropped French fries, that last bite of napkin-wrapped sandwich stuffed in the door handle, that mold-covered orange that rolled out of your grocery bag undetected, the aforementioned soccer cleats.
(2) Don’t smoke in your car! Carpets, fabrics, ceiling liners all absorb smoke.
(3) Clean your ducts. If the smell comes when you turn on AC, run your car and spray this duct cleaning disinfectant or this one through your air intake, turning the AC on full blast to run the cleaner through. Your cabin air filter might need replacing as well.
(4) Use rubber mats instead of fabric/carpet. They are easier to wipe, and they don’t absorb odor
(5) Vinegar or coffee grounds sit in a bowl over night will absorb lingering scents in the air. Sprinkle baking soda on your car seats and floors and vacuum. Or fabric softener sheets—put under the seats to absorb nasty smells.
(6) Clean it out—vacuum—even the ceiling!
(7) If the smell is musty, water may be getting into your car. Check your door and window seals.
(8) Use an odor eliminator once in a while—they actually chemically mix with bad odors and eliminate them
(9) Glue cotton balls or pompoms to a clothes pin and add 5-10 drops of your favorite essential oil. Clip it to your vents, turn on the air or heat and your car will soon be smelling sweet.
(10) Put Gain Fireworks or Down Unstopables in a mason jar and leave them in your cup holder