How to Make a Car Smell New Again
Maybe you are a regular at the gym, where you change into your workout clothes and strip them off again after you’ve jogged and lifted and crunched and sweated for hours in them. Maybe you are a parent of several children shuttling them around in a car, to football or other sports practice and daycare and all points in between, with all messes in between. Maybe you’re a university student and you meant to clean up your car but one thing led to another and you never got around to it because well, what uni student ever does?
There are any number of reasons why the interior of your car might look and feel a bit like a portable trash can, but it definitely shouldn’t smell like one – which it sadly probably does. If your car’s interior is messy (and whose isn’t?) it probably smells – but that doesn’t mean it has to, and with these tips, it can smell fresh once again.
1. Add an Air Freshener
It’s literally the simplest option on this list, and an old-fashioned fix, but it’s worth mentioning, but it’s worth mentioning again – use that air freshener! Whether it’s peppermint or pine fresh or any number of other mildly pleasing scents, a little air freshener can go a long way. They’re inexpensive, easy to add, and while most of the tips on this list are about removing or fighting foul odours, this is one easy way to add a nice light scent back into your car.
2. Use Odour Eaters
Even if you try and introduce a more aromatic air into your car, that won’t get rid of the foul scent of trash, stains, and whatever else has stunk up your car. That’s why you’ll need to introduce some odour eaters. Anyone who has ever struggled with smelly feet will know these are both easy to use (simply slip them into your shoe or car) and highly effective (to the relief of all involved).
3. Spritz a Bit of Perfume
If you’re short on time and need a DIY solution and fast, you might try spritzing a bit of perfume if you have some on you. You will obviously want to make sure you are doing this far enough from the fabric so that it doesn’t seep in.
What’s more, this is an incredibly short-term fix, and you’ll need to close the car door and windows immediately after so as to ensure that the scent doesn’t dissipate out immediately.
Finally, it’s worth noting that this solution “stinks of desperation,” in more ways than one. We all know what perfume smells like. If someone smells perfume spritzed all over your car’s interior, they’ll probably guess why you did it, which will call to mind all the awful odours you’re trying to mask in the first place.
Still, if you’re in a pinch pre-date and the alternative is unbelievably odious, it’s better to spritz the perfume than offend your nose.
4. Drive with the Windows Down
The whole reason you need to keep the windows up and doors closed in the previous solution is that otherwise the scent will leave your car in a hurry – but what if that’s what you want in the first place?
If your car smells a bit sweaty post-workout, for example, driving with the windows down can help air out your car. You might also want to try doing this with smells you don’t want to build up in your car in the first place. For example, if you’re a smoker or are eating something from a takeaway and don’t want the smoke or kebab after-effects to “linger” in your car for hours afterwards, this can be an excellent way to preemptively air it out.
5. Baking Soda
One potentially surprising solution to the issue of foul odours in your car is baking soda. It may not be the first thing you think of, but it can make for a pretty effective DIY odour eater. Simply sprinkle some in your car, especially on or near the most odiferous areas and let it sit for three to four hours.
6. Vacuum and Clean
Of course, it doesn’t matter how much air freshener, perfume, baking soda, and other aromatic or odour eating things you add to your car if the source of the odour remains. That’s why it is of the utmost importance that you not only add these elements to get your car smelling nice but to attack foul odour at the source, and that means cleaning.
Try and vacuum out your car at least every few weeks, more frequently if it’s looking a bit more like an indoor automotive trash can (no shame, we’ve all been there).
In addition to vacuuming, you want to do some deep cleaning on the floors and fabrics. There are many options for this, from water and vinegar to more official cleaners. Either way, you want to make sure to strike a balance between really getting into the fibres to get at the root of the odour while avoiding staining them.
7. Use Disinfectant Sprays
Where there are kids, there are stains, and where there are stains, there are bound to be germs. You love your kids, but you don’t want them fouling up your car.
As a result, whether your kids are coming home from school, football practice, or any number of activities, you want to guard against grass stains, dirt, mud, and all the germs that come with them, which means getting disinfectant sprays. Make sure that you spray it in trouble spots.
When taking on foul odours in your car, you need to take it on in several different ways. You need to get rid of the source of the foul odour, the residue they leave behind, clean your car from top to bottom, and then add some nice-smelling air fresheners and other scents for good measure. It may seem like a lot of work, but it’s better to wipe the sweat from your brow in satisfaction than leave your guests wrinkling their nose in disgust.