Smelly car, smelly car what have they done to you?
Smelly car, smelly car it’s not your fault…
For those of you who watched the sitcom Friends back in the day, you probably recognize those two lines but with a bit of a tweak (the original version was about a smelly cat not a smelly car). While old sitcoms and songs about smelly cats can be quite funny, smelly cars might better be described as repugnant, or embarrassing. Between road trips, children tossing their food in the backseat, and riding with the pets – cars can develop some pretty foul odors. But you don’t have to live with a smelly car, we’ve put together a list of things that you can do in order to get your vehicle pleasant smelling once again!
Vacuum Your Car
It’s always a good idea to vacuum your vehicle regularly – especially if you have pets riding it regularly. Vacuuming your vehicle also allows you plenty of opportunity to find where the offending odor is coming from. Sometimes it’s easy to find the source of the smell (like the remnants of an old happy meal shoved under the seat), but sometimes it’s not quite so obvious. Once you have taken out any overt smell-makers, it’s time to give your vehicle a thorough vacuum. First, remove the floor mats and give the interior, including seats, compartments, cup holders and floor, a good vacuuming to remove the dirt, food, dog hair and whatever else it may have accumulated.
Wipe Down the Interior
Next, give your vehicle’s interior a nice wipe down. You may find products helpful in this process such as vinyl dressing, upholstery cleaners, or DIY solutions. You’ll want to work from the top down, so that any dirt wiped off the headrests or sun visors will fall onto still-dirty surfaces that have yet to be cleaned. Use an interior detail brush to help get those items in hard to reach places and to get the remnants out of the cup holders, et cetera. You may find it helpful to have the vacuum around during this process as well.
Check Your Cabin Filter
Your cabin filter should be changed every 12,000 to 15,000 miles or at minimum once a year. Located inside the vehicle, usually on the passenger side near the glove box, the cabin filter traps contaminants such as mold, pollen, and dust. Check your owner’s manual to find out where your air filter is located. Once you have the air filter out, you will want to vacuum the filter compartment to ensure you get it nice and clean before you put in a new air filter.
Get an Air Freshener
You can use an air freshening product to give the interior a clean, fresh smell. This shouldn’t be the first line of defense for offending odors, but what you go to after you have vacuumed, changed your filter, and wiped down the interior completely. There are a lot of options when it comes to air fresheners. You will need to determine if you want an air freshener that you place in your vehicle’s air vents, one that hangs on the rear-view mirror, a little tub of freshener that emits scents based on how much you open the lid (often put under the car seat), or a diffuser type that you add essential oils to (this last option can also have therapeutic benefits).
Turning to the Professional
If you find after thoroughly cleaning your vehicle that there is still a lingering offensive odor, it may be time to see a professional. There are several places that specialize in detailing cars. They have stronger chemicals and know even more tricks to get your vehicle clean and smelling nice. They can certainly get that car back to smelling fresh and clean.