How To Keep My Car Smelling Fresh All The Time

Have you ever apologized for how your car smell? It was embarrassing, wasn’t it? You asked your work mate if he needed a ride home, and he said yes. He got in your car and immediately asked, “What’s that smell?”

To save you for future embarrassment, here are some great ways to keep your car clean and smelling fresh.

Replace the air filter once a year

No, I’m not talking about the one that filters air going to the car’s engine. I’m talking about the one that filters air going to the AC. Many people don’t realize just how important to replace it regularly. Some doesn’t even realize it exists. That easy-to-forget thing practically traps dust, pollen, and other microscopic objects before the air goes into the cabin. Over time it will get damp, dirty, and smelly. As a result, every time you turn on the AC it will blow smelly air to your face.

Replacing the dirty and clogged air filter also does tremendous improvement on how well the AC blows cool air. Since the reduced airflow is now back to normal, the AC seems to cool the cabin much faster.

For easy maintenance, manufacturers tend to install the air filter behind the glovebox. Go check your car owner’s manual to see where the air filter is located your car and how to replace it. The cost of a replacement filter is affordable, and changing it yourself is a pretty simple task. You really don’t need to go to an auto shop to have it replaced. Of course, you can ask the mechanic to replace it on your scheduled maintenance visit.

If you have a Toyota Camry, here’s a video that shows you just how easy it is to replace the cabin air filter.

Clean the cabin

Spilled food and drink like soda, milk, coffee on your car upholstery will make your car smell bad in no time. Make it a habit to clean them immediately. You may use a wet dry vacuum cleaner or just press a dry cloth or paper towel on the wet upholstery. I usually damp the spilled area with water plus soap then brush the whole thing. Then leave the car with the windows slightly down to air out the dampness and make sure it’s dried properly without leaving any bad odor.

Clean Car Interior
Image : Service Master Of Charleston
Clean the car mat regularly too. It’s not rare for people to step on smelly objects unknowingly. When they get into their cars, some of the smelly stuff get stuck on the mat. I usually clean the mat whenever I’m washing the car.

Be sure to clean the cup holders and AC vents while you’re at it. Spilled drinks on the cup holders make it damp, so dust particles stick on it easier. The AC vents, where air passes through should be kept clean too.

Febreze odor eliminator for cars

Use an odor eliminator

There are some products you may use to get rid of bad odor from your car interior. This should be regarded as the last resort, because it just masks the odor instead of getting rid of the source. It works for a quick solution before you’re picking your date. Just remember to find and take care of the source of the odor after your date for a more permanent solution.

One of the most popular odor eliminator is Febreze. Spray that on the upholstery and the whole cabin to help getting rid of persistent odor. Cyclodextrin, the active ingredient in Febreze that’s shaped like a donut, traps the odor molecule inside the hole. When these trapped molecules get inside your nose, they won’t bind to your odor receptor, hence no odor.

Ground Coffee

Use ground coffee

Pour two tablespoons of ground coffee on a small cup and leave it in the car overnight. I’ve used this method to get rid of annoying cigarette smell. Some people just don’t understand that they are not supposed to smoke in the car they’re borrowing.

Just like the odor eliminator this is also a temporary solution. The more permanent solution is to never let your smoking friends borrow your car ever again.

By the way, you don’t need to fuss about the brand of coffee for this. Get any brand you like. Get the cheapest one if you prefer. You’re not going to brew it anyway.

Park under the sun

When it’s raining a lot, your car interior will get damp. There are plenty of microorganisms that just love damp places. When it’s bright and sunny outside, park your car under the sun for an hour or so and roll down the window a bit. This will ensure the cabin is dry enough to make it hard for odor-causing microbes to thrive.
Mustang Under The Sun
Image : One Man And His Mustang

Got a pet? Use a mat and seat cover!

Before you tell your dog or cat to get in the car, be sure to line the upholstery with seat cover and the floor with a mat. Or if you’re really cheap, use a sheet of cardboard over a sheet of plastic. It makes it easier to clean when they’re making a mess. Even when they’re potty trained, it’s best to play safe.
Dog Seat Cover For Car

Driving with the windows down

When the weather is cool, turn off the AC and roll down the windows. Let some fresh air in and stale air out. Of course, if you’re driving through a hectic city this may not be possible. However, when you’re in the suburb or the not-so-busy part of the city, just roll down the window let some fresh air in.
Driving With The Windows Down
Image : Carspoon

Don’t keep smelly stuff in the car

Keeping your wet and smelly t-shirts in the car is a sure way to get a stinky cabin.

“Oh, but I don’t keep any t-shirts in my car. I only keep my jacket there and it’s not smelly at all”.

Just because you can’t smell it doesn’t mean everyone else can’t. The brain is pretty good at recalibrating. This is why so many people can’t smell their own body odor. Just remember not to keep any dirty or used shirts, shoes, or stinky objects in the car.

Car Air FreshenerCar Air Freshener

Use a car air freshener

Once you get every smelly object out and clean thoroughly remember to get an air freshener. They come in various brands, shapes, and scents. Just pick one that you like best. If it’s a family car, be sure to ask other family members. Some people are sensitive to certain smell and prolonged exposure may make the nauseous. That’s not a good thing especially if you’re going for a long car trip.

Okay, those several things you should do to make your car smell good. If you have more methods and tricks to add, feel free to send them using the comment form below. If you have any embarrassing experiences with smelly car, share them too. Let the world know about it.

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