4 Common Car Smells and How to Combat Them

image of woman holding her noseSpend a lot of time in your car and you might find it starts to smell less than fresh. Just like our homes, cars need regular cleaning and maintenance to prevent bad odours and prevent bacterial build-up. But sometimes, removing smells from your car can be easier said than done – especially if you eat or smoke at the wheel, or let your pet ride shotgun.

In this guide, we’ll be showing you how to remove bad smells from your car, including smoke, pet smells and general fustiness.

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How to Remove the Smell of Smoke from Your Car

image of smoking and drivingSmoke is one of the most difficult smells to remove from a car. If you light up at the wheel smoke will settle on hard surfaces and seep into the seats, carpets and upholstered trim. You’ll need to clean your car frequently if you smoke in it, otherwise there’s a chance the smell will get so bad it will impact on your car’s resale price.

Here’s how to remove smoke smells from your car.

  1. Vacuum the entire car, using a brush head attachment to reach in all those nooks and crannies. Press the attachment deep into the carpet pile and seats to remove as much of the smoke smell as you can.
  2. Use an upholstery cleaner to tackle the seats and carpets; this will help lift the smoke smell and freshen things up. Our Upholstery & Carpet Cleaner is great because it has a unique, hard bristle brush head cap, which allows you to work the product deep into the fibres, lifting smells and cleaning the material.
  3. Next, you’ll need to clean the hard surfaces, like the dashboard, door panels, steering wheel and centre console. Dashboard wipes are great for this, or you can use a dedicated dashboard cleaner for an even deeper clean. This will help remove the layer of smoke smell that’s stuck to the hard surfaces.
  4. Cigarette smoke can circulate into your car’s air filtration system, so even if you clean it top to bottom, the smell could still be there next time to switch on the ignition. To combat this, use Simoniz Car Sanitiser to remove bad odours from the air system. It only takes 10 minutes and is simple to use for a much fresher interior.

Prevent smoke smells by:

  • Not smoking behind the wheel, or at least opening a window
  • Cleaning your car every 1-2 weeks as a minimum, including emptying your ash tray
  • Keeping handy wipes and sprays in your vehicle to freshen up your car after each journey

How to Remove Pet Smells from Your Car

image of dog in car bootPet smells are amongst the most difficult to get rid of and are among the most unpleasant to live with. If you regularly take your pooch for day trips in the car, you’ll probably find that your car starts to smell like them a little more than you’d like – especially if they get wet during walkies.

Here’s how to remove pet smells from your car:

  1. Start by vacuuming your car, including the boot, where a lot of dogs like to travel. You’ll need to get into every crevice, because dog hair gets everywhere. If you can’t vacuum your car, a lint roller works well for gathering up pet hairs; you can also try a rubber glove. (Read more about how to remove pet hairs from your car in our blog.)
  2. Next you’ll want to clean the seats, carpets and mats as best you can, including any boot liners. Simoniz Upholstery & Carpet Cleaner is great for this. Work the product deep into the upholstery using a circular motion, which will help lift any bad odours.
  3. When you’ve applied the cleaner, leave it to sit for a couple of minutes before vacuuming again. This will help lift any leftover pet hair and remove residue, helping the seats and carpet to dry more quickly so it’s safe for your dog to use on its next journey.

Prevent pet smells by:

  • Vacuuming your car regularly to remove pet hair
  • Only letting your dog travel in the boot, preferably on a removable boot liner for easy cleaning
  • Taking pet wipes to give your dog a quick clean down before they get back in your car, especially after a wet and muddy walk

How to Remove Food Smells from Your Car

image of woman eating in carIf you drive a lot as part of your job or get peckish during your morning commute, there’s a good chance you’ll eat a meal or two in your car. And that’s fine – so long as you don’t let bad food habits stand in the way of your car’s cleanliness and hygiene.

If you’re concerned your car smells like your last meal at the wheel, here are some ways to combat food smells in the cabin.

  1. Start by removing any rubbish items from your car – we’re talking fast food cartons, sandwich wrappers and any other rubbish you’ve let accumulate in the footwells. Be sure to check under the seats; the last thing you need is unseen food going mouldy and causing an even bigger stench.
  2. Next, grab a vacuum and give your car the once over. This will help lift odours and remove crumbs and bits which can contribute to bad smells.
  3. From here, it’s a case of cleaning the door bins, seats and surfaces (don’t forget your steering wheel!) where food may have come into contact, as well as areas where you know there’s been a spill. A good quality dashboard cleaner is great for cleaning hard surfaces, and we’d also recommend antibacterial cleansing wipes to make sure your car doesn’t become a breeding ground for germs. Upholstery wipes can remove light or recent spills, but if you’re dealing with a particularly nasty stain or dried in food you might need to use a more intensive upholstery cleaning product.

Prevent food smells by:

  • Not eating smelly or sloppy food at the wheel and asking passengers to be careful
  • Removing all food waste and packaging after each journey
  • Using an in-car bin to keep all rubbish and bits in one place, for quick and easy disposal

How to Remove Musty Smells from Your Car

image of vaccuming a car seatThere are lots of reasons why your car might start to take on a musty, damp smell, and sometimes these odours are hard to avoid. From wet and muddy carpets and mats to damp seats caused by wet clothing, musty smells are pretty common in cars, but can be quite difficult to deal with.

Here are a few top tips that should help you get rid of damp, musty smells from your car.

  1. Start by locating the source of the problem. Musty smells are likely coming from an area of your car that comes into contact with water and dirt, like the mats, but it could also be the seats or carpet. In some instances, the smell could be caused by a leaky window seal, so it’s important to work out what’s going on and what’s causing the smell.
  2. Next, thoroughly dry out your car. The best way to do this is to open the windows to let air circulate through the cabin (obviously, so long as it’s safe to do so). Taking out the mats first can help both them and the carpets to dry out thoroughly. You should also remove the boot lining if possible, especially if your pet regularly rides in the back.
  3. After an hour or so it’s time to vacuum the upholstered surfaces, which will help to lift odours. Tackle the seats, carpets and upholstered trim, using a brush head tool to get deep into the material.
  4. Next, clean the same areas with an upholstery cleaner. Use a cloth to work the product into the seats and carpets, leaving it to work for a few minutes. Then, vacuum off to remove residue and lingering odours.
  5. Use an air cleaning product to clean your car’s air filtration system. This will help remove musty odours from the system.

Prevent musty smells by:

  • Cleaning your car’s interior regularly
  • Using rubber floor mats in the winter to prevent water seeping into the carpets and causing odours
  • Removing wet coats and shoes before driving; keeping a spare pair of shoes in the boot is always a good idea after those wintry walks

Tackling bad odours isn’t difficult, but it does take the right products and a little time. At Simoniz, our car care products are designed to make cleaning your car easy, both inside and out. For more information, visit the homepage.