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Auto Care

Keep Your Car Interior Clean and Smelling Fresh

Keep Your Car Interior Clean and Smelling Fresh

Everyone loves that new-car smell, but sooner or later most cars start smelling used. Learn how to keep the interior of your car smelling as clean and fresh as the rest of your vehicle with these quick tips and fast fixes.

Keep It Clean

Major road trips or long commutes often mean a few spills or piles of clutter. Always take time to throw away whatever tissue or trash is in the car when you get home or stop for gasoline. Try to have your car professionally cleaned inside and out. Use non-toxic carpet and upholstery cleaner with an enzymatic neutralizer to eliminate odors without contaminating your car.


The upholstery of many new cars is treated with stain repellant to help reduce the absorption of accidental spills; unfortunately, it can wear off over time and may need to be touched up — especially in high-use areas like arm rests. Spray-on stain repellant like Scotch Guard is easy to apply and helps prevent stains and odor.

Don’t Smoke

Not only does smoking inside a vehicle expose others to dangerous second-hand smoke, but tobacco is one of the most difficult odors to remove from the upholstery of your vehicle. It also increases insurance rates and decreases the resale value of your vehicle.

Quick Fix Spill Kit

Carry a quick-fix emergency kit for accidental spills. Use an absorbent towel to soak up the spill, then spot treat with a “green” upholstery spray cleaner. It’s also a good idea to carry wet wipes to get rid of fingerprints and other common causes of grime left behind by active kids and pets.

Stop Skin Contact

Use seat protectors or covers to put a barrier between skin and upholstery, especially if you're active or use your vehicle to transport kids or pets. Not only do the natural oils in your skin attract dirt and grime, but the odor-causing bacteria contained in sweat make even the cleanest car smell like a locker room.

Seal It

Whether you're doing laundry or transporting garden fertilizer, whenever possible use a sealed storage box or plastic bag to keep smelly items away from odor-absorbent areas of the car like carpeting or upholstery.

Skip the Snack

Oily snacks and fast foods are common odor culprits. If you need to eat or drink when driving, find foods without lots of grease. Not only are they better for your health, but your car is less likely to absorb oil-based odors frequently found on everything from French fries to chips.

Add a Breath of Fresh Air

Today there are more choices than ever when it comes to freshening the interior of your car. From aromatherapy to simple fragrances, refresh your car's interior with these simple ideas:

  • Aromatherapy: Use a few drops of your favorite essential oil in an inconspicuous place for a fragrance that reflects your perfect scent. Essential oils are also fun ways to change your car smell for seasonal holidays. Plus, they are usually all-natural, making them as safe as they are fragrant.
  • Diffusers: Diffusers are another popular alternative for those who prefer an automatic dispersal of oils. Simply plug into the cigarette lighter of the car and fill with oil for a gentle fragrance that continually updates itself.
  • Traditional Air Fresheners: Add a touch of nostalgia to your ride by hanging a simple air freshener over the rearview mirror; effective and inexpensive, these are the perfect solution for vintage car owners.
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