Have you ever stopped to think about the massive amount of time you spend in your car? If you work in an office, you have to drive to and from work every day. The average daily work commute for an American is 16 miles each way, so that’s not a small amount of time – and it’s just the beginning. You also use your car when you grab food, do the shopping or run your weekend errands. Even when you’re just enjoying some time out with your family or friends, you’re going to use your car – so it should be an experience you enjoy. If your car doesn’t smell good, enjoying the experience isn’t going to be easy.
Here’s the good news: Improving the smell of your car isn’t actually difficult at all. It doesn’t require any specialized knowledge or training, and it doesn’t require any unusual tools that would be difficult for you to get. It does require a bit of time and effort – unless you want to hire a detailer, of course – but the time is well spent if it helps to improve an activity that you spend hours doing each week.
Do you want to make your car smell better? It’s not difficult at all. You just need to do these few things.
Don’t Smoke in Your Car
One of the things that we’ll discuss in this article is a step-by-step method for getting rid of the bad smells in your car. Removing those unwanted odors, however, won’t matter unless you stop doing the things that cause the odors in the first place. If you’re a smoker, you should definitely start by changing that habit because nothing ruins the way a car smells more quickly than smoking. People find the smell of stale smoke so repugnant, in fact, that smoking in a car reduces its resale value by just under 8 percent. That’s a reduction of over $1,500 for a modest used car with a value of $20,000.
The solution for this problem, thankfully, is very simple: You need to stop smoking in your car. If you’re a tobacco smoker, try a disposable vape from a local convenience store or gas station. If you enjoy the experience, visit a nearby vape shop and step up to a full vape kit. If you’re an herb smoker, try an oil pen from a company like Rokin Vapes. You can get rid of the smoke smell if you clean your car thoroughly, but you’ve got to stop smoking in your car if you want to remove the smell permanently.
Don’t Eat in Your Car
If you’re not the type of person who smokes in your car, there’s a good chance that you eat in it at least sometimes. Maybe you eat in your car, for instance, when you’re on your lunch break at work. The problem with eating food in your car, though, is that a vehicle is a very small space. It’s almost impossible to prevent crumbs from permeating your car’s seats and floor, and food particles that are left in your car’s cabin for a day or two will start to smell foul very quickly. Instead of taking your lunch break in your car, pull over and eat at a picnic table in a local park. When you do eat in your car – because you’re short on time, for instance – vacuum the car as soon as possible. When you leave the car, take all of the trash with you and throw it away. Don’t ever leave food wrappers and half-finished drinks in your car because the heat in the cabin will make those things start to smell foul very quickly.
Check Your Car for Signs of Water Ingress
Water ingress is the third major source of unwanted odors in vehicles. You’ll want to check for moisture if your car has an unpleasant smell, and you’ve never eaten or smoked in it. Check the floor, the glove box and the trunk for wetness that could indicate water entry. You should also check the weather seals around your car’s sunroof and make sure that all of the drainage channels are clean. Moisture trapped inside your car’s cabin can lead to mold growth, which is very unsafe in addition to smelling very unpleasant.
Clean Your Car Thoroughly
Once you’ve stopped doing the things that cause your car to harbor unpleasant odors, the next step is to remove the smells that are already there. As we mentioned above, you can hire a detailer to do this job if you like – but cleaning your car is something you can definitely do yourself. Start by vacuuming your car’s interior as thoroughly as you can. You can use your own vacuum, but a local car wash or gas station may have more powerful equipment that’ll do a better job. Vacuum under the seats and don’t forget to clean the cracks between the seat backs and bottoms. If your car has fabric upholstery, consider renting a steam cleaner. If you’ve smoked in your car, clean all of the hard interior surfaces – including the windows – with a vinegar-based cleaner to remove the residue.
If your car still harbors unwanted odors after a thorough cleaning, you may want to consider taking it to a detailer that specializes in odor remediation. A detailer can treat your car with an ozone generator that’s capable of removing virtually all unwanted odors, and it can make your car smell almost like new.
Keep the Bad Smells from Coming Back
Now that you’ve eliminated the sources of unwanted smells in your car, the final step is to ensure that those odors won’t come back. Thankfully, this is the easiest step in the car cleaning process. Simply go to a local home improvement store and pick up some small bags of activated charcoal. Place them under your car’s seats, and the porous charcoal will work to absorb excess moisture and unwanted smells. Every few months, you’ll need to place the bags in direct sunlight to refresh them. Replace the bags about once a year, and your car will continue to smell fresh as long as you own it.