Pizza Begone! The Best Car Odor Eliminators

Pizza Begone! The Best Car Odor Eliminators

Nobody likes a smelly car. If you’ve cleaned your car but just can’t get that rancid smell to go away, you’ll want to consider a good car odor eliminator. Finding the right one depends on what you’re dealing with and your personal preferences. However, we’ve taken some of the leg work out of finding the right odor eliminator for your car.

Things to Consider in Car Odor Eliminators

With many smells to eliminate, and many products on the market, you’ll want to make a few considerations before grabbing an odor eliminator for your car.

Type of Odor Eliminators

There are several different types of odor eliminators to use in your car, depending on much time or effort you’re willing to put in, or how aggressive of an odor you’re facing.

Spot Sprays

Odor eliminators that come premixed in a spray bottle make it quick and easy to get down to business. You can spot spray affected areas, such as in the case of pet accidents, or you can hit your entire car to zap lingering odors like those from smoke. Just be mindful of the directions – some sprays don’t mix well with leather and plastics, and can cause damage to certain surfaces.

Concentrates

These are concentrated odor eliminators meant to be diluted in water. With concentrates, you can customize the strength, making them great for dealing with harsh odors. Concentrates are also often more economical in the long run.

For instance, the Chemical Guys New Car Smell Odor Eliminator makes up to 2 full gallons worth of spray. Using it in moderation, it could easily last you a full year.

Foggers

These set-and-forget aerosol sprays are one of the easiest and quickest ways to freshen your car up and eliminate foul odors. They are also perhaps the most dangerous – with foggers, you’ll want to make sure your car is clear of pets and people. When activating a fogger’s locking trigger, make sure you also keep it pointed away from you.

Vent and Duct Aerosols

Foggers work great for your whole car, including your vents and ducts. But if you’ve got a problem in your car’s AC system, you might specifically opt for a vent and duct odor eliminator. These aerosols are meant to go into your vents inside your car, as well as your air intake outside the car. They usually come with a straw that helps you get down inside your vents.

Gel

A gel that sits passively to eliminate odors around the clock. These are useful if you smoke in your car, but you don’t want your car smelling like stale smoke. They also work great as a general air freshener that eliminates odors.

Charcoal Bags

Another great passive option, they utilize charcoal’s absorbent properties to suck up odors and trap them. These are also non-toxic, environmentally safe, and have no smell, making them great if you’re sensitive to smells.

Powder

Powder odor eliminators are simple products you sprinkle onto your fabrics and then vacuum up. With some powders, you can also mix them with water and use them as a spot spray.

Type of Odors

Odor eliminators have one job and one job only: get rid of that gnarly stench in your car. Next you need to consider what odors you’re dealing with. Here are a few common types of odors:

Pet Smells

This is a catch-all for any odors caused by your pets, from wet dog smell to vomit and accidents. If you’ve got an organic mess in your carpet or seats, you’ll seriously want to consider a product specifically meant to tackle these messes, like Rocco & Roxie Supply Professional Strength Stain and Odor Eliminator. It’s formulated with special enzymes that will take out stains and eat odors caused by pets.

Smoke

Stale smoke odors are the worst, especially if you’re a non-smoker. Most odor eliminators will tackle smoke odors to some degree. But if you want to be extra sure you’ll rid your car of that horrendous stench, you might want to consider something specifically made for smoke odors, such as Armor All’s Smoke X Odor Eliminator.

If you’re a current smoker, but want to keep your car smelling as fresh as possible, you can also try using the Ozium Smoke & Odors Eliminator Gel. This stuff works passively around the clock to help keep your car smelling fresh, and lasts for months.

Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew are an unfortunate side effect of high humidity. You might find mold and mildew in your air ducts, especially if you commonly run your air conditioner. If you’ve isolated the smell to your vents and ducts, you’ll either want an aerosol fogger or an air duct cleaner like the Armor All Car Vent and Duct Odor Eliminator.

Safety

All odor eliminators can be safe as long as you use them as directed. Still, you might want to opt for a non-toxic option to avoid potential health problems and disasters.

If you’re looking for something that’s non-toxic and environmentally friendly, you might want to check out Van Den Heuvels R86 Industrial Odor Eliminator.

Suitable Surfaces

Your car’s interior is made up of rubber, vinyl, plastic, fabrics, and maybe even leather. With so many types of surfaces, you’ll want to be sure to choose an odor eliminator that’s safe for the surfaces you’re treating.

Some sprays are meant for fabrics only, and can damage the plastic, leather, or vinyl components. Others are safe for all water-safe surfaces. Be sure you’re grabbing the right stuff for the job so you don’t ruin your car trying to tame foul odors.

Now, keeping in mind some of the basics, let’s look at some of the best car odor eliminators we’ve found.

Top 10 Best Car Odor Eliminators 2021

1. Best Overall Odor Eliminator: Febreze Eliminator Extra Strength + Unstopables

Febreze Eliminator Extra Strength + Unstopables

Why we like it: From a reputable company, it's rather inexpensive, works great, and can neutralize the toughest odors.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Type of eliminator: Spot spray
  • Type of odors: All
  • Safety: Safe when dry
  • Surfaces: Fabrics

A staple in many households, Febreze is well-known for being one of the best odor eliminators around. Formulated to attract and neutralize odors, this package is a double-whammy for foul odors in your car.

It includes a bottle of Febreze Fabric Extra Strength and Febreze Fabric “UnStopables,” a more concentrated formula. Both bottles contain a proprietary formula that is safe for all fabrics except leather, suede, and silk. However, be sure to do a test spray in an inconspicuous spot if you’re worried about potential water spotting or other issues.

In addition to eliminating foul odors in your car, Febreze is also great for around the house. Being versatile and relatively inexpensive, it’s a safe bet and works effectively on most foul odors that linger.

Both sprays have a strong fresh linen scent that will fade as they dry. If you’re sensitive to chemical fragrances, this could be a little too strong for you – especially the “UnStopables.” In that case, you might consider spraying when you plan to be away from your car for a while, and then briefly air it out before you get in again.

If you’d rather opt for a more natural smell, you might be interested in checking out the Angry Orange Pet Odor Eliminator. It doesn’t contain the same odor-trapping chemicals Febreze includes, but it’s a powerful natural cleaner capable of eliminating odors while leaving a fresh orange scent behind.

Nevertheless, Febreze is a common household name for a reason. Whether you’re trying to tackle old smoke and pet odors, or you just want an effective multi-use odor eliminator for your car and home, Febreze is a solid choice.

Pros

  • Tackles many types of foul odors
  • Safe on nearly all fabrics
  • Multiple bottles of different scents
  • Inexpensive
  • Fresh linen scent

Cons

  • Fragrance may be too strong and artificial for some people

2. Best Premium Odor Eliminator: Angry Orange Ready-to-Use Citrus Pet Odor Eliminator

Angry Orange Ready-to-Use Citrus Pet Odor Eliminator

Why we like it: It's natural, non-toxic, biodegradable, and makes your car smell like an orange orchard.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Type of eliminator: Spot spray
  • Type of odors: All
  • Safety: Biodegradable and non-toxic
  • Surfaces: Most water-safe surfaces

Angry Orange’s Ready-to-Use Pet Odor Eliminator is a great choice if you want to eliminate tough odors, or just freshen your car up. Despite the fact that it’s marketed as a pet odor eliminator, it’s a great all-around odor eliminator strong enough to work on smelly pet accidents.

The smell is insanely strong, yet natural and fairly pleasant. You should be prepared for an orange bomb after you spray it, especially if you’re putting it in a small, enclosed area like your car. However, given time, it will fade, and you can always further dilute it to lessen the intensity of the smell.

If you have a sensitive nose, Angry Orange may be a bit overwhelming. If you’d rather opt for a natural odor eliminator that doesn’t have a smell, you might want to consider the Basic Concepts Bamboo Charcoal Air Purifying Bags. However, you should also keep in mind that – unlike Angry Orange – charcoal bags are a passive solution and won’t attack the source of foul odors.

Angry Orange is safe for nearly all water-safe surfaces and safe around children and pets. However, you’ll want to be careful with plastic. Concentrated orange oil can melt through polystyrene. This bottle isn’t a pure orange oil concentrate, but it could still cause some issues with clouding on your car’s dashboard. As such, you should always do an inconspicuous test spray before going nuts with it.

If you love the smell of citrus, or you just want a natural and potent alternative to the likes of Febreze and other artificial odor eliminator sprays, this stuff is the perfect solution for you!

Pros

  • Great for all-around use
  • Smells great and all-natural
  • Works especially well on pet odors
  • Safe for most surfaces

Cons

  • Smell may be overwhelming for some
  • May not be safe to spray on plastics

3. Best Budget Odor Eliminator: Chemical Guys AIR_101_16 New Car Smell Odor Eliminator

Chemical Guys AIR_101_16 New Car Smell Odor Eliminator

Why we like it: Aiming to give your car that new car smell, this stuff will last forever, making up to 2 gallons of spray.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Type of eliminator: Concentrate
  • Type of odors: All
  • Safety: May irritate eyes
  • Surfaces: Fabric (not safe for use on plastic)

Sometimes a little can go a long way, and with the Chemical Guys New Car Smell Odor Eliminator, that certainly holds true. At a highly competitive price, this small 16-ounce bottle of concentrate makes up to 2 gallons of spray that will last for a long time, making it a highly economical choice.

It won’t just mask odors either. Containing odor-fighting enzymes, it seeks to eliminate odors at the source, leaving behind an odor that’s supposed to make your car smell as if you just drove it off the lot. It also contains enzymes that will break down odor-causing molecules, so you can be sure it won’t just mask odors.

Like Angry Orange, this stuff has a powerful smell. That means you’ll either want to dilute it as per the instructions, or go light – one spray of the concentrate under your floor mats should be more than enough, and can even be overwhelming if you’re sensitive to smell.

Since this spray from Chemical Guys aims to mimic the freshly-tanned leather and clean rubber and plastic of a new car, it’s going to have an artificial chemical smell. If you’d rather a more natural scent, you might consider something like Angry Orange, an equally potent natural solution.

This spray is meant for fabric only, and it can damage your dashboard. You’ll want to avoid spraying it on your dash or in the air. You’ll also want to give the spray some time to set and dry – we recommend spraying when you’ve got a few hours to let it set.

Whether you’re combating stale smoke odors or just looking to keep your car smelling crisp, this is a great choice for keeping your car smelling as close to new as you can get.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Concentrate means it will last for a long time
  • Odor-fighting enzymes to eliminate odors at the source
  • Strong smell will overpower foul odors

Cons

  • Chemical smell can be overwhelming
  • Can cause damage to dash if used inappropriately

4. Best Pet Odor Eliminator: Rocco & Roxie Supply Co. Stain and Odor Eliminator

Rocco & Roxie Supply Co. Stain and Odor Eliminator

Why we like it: Formulated with enzymes, it will break down organic odors at the source and eliminate stains as well.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Type of eliminator: Spot spray
  • Type of odors: Organic/pet odors
  • Safety: Safe when dry
  • Surfaces: All water-safe surfaces

If you frequently travel with your pets, then you’ll want to pick up a bottle of Rocco & Roxie Supply’s Professional Strength Stain and Odor Eliminator. One of the best pet stain and odor eliminators on the market, it’s great for combating foul pet odors like wet dog smell and pet accidents. The company also offers a 100% money-back guarantee.

Containing a powerful blend of enzymatic bacteria that will tackle the worst organic odors and stains, it’s safe for use around pets and children. It’s also safe on virtually all surfaces, and is certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute as safe for all carpets.

Keep in mind that this product has a strong fragrance. The smell of this spray might not be as strong as some of the other products we’ve listed, but just know it’s not totally scent-free. However, the smell fades as it dries, and it sure beats foul odors from pet accidents and the like.

If you’re looking to rid your vehicle of smoke odors, this product may help. However, the company recommends you use a product designed for smoke odors – something like the Armor All Smoke X Car Odor Eliminator is a perfect solution for dealing with smoke odors.

Other than potentially not working for smoke odors, the only real issue we see with this product is the price, which is rather high compared to other products on this list. Still, given its effectiveness and stellar money-back guarantee, you don’t really have anything to lose.

Pros

  • Works great on pet odors and stains
  • Safe for nearly all surfaces
  • Certified safe for all carpets

Cons

  • Strong smell
  • High price
  • May not work on smoke odors

5. Best Aerosol Odor Eliminator: Meguiar's G16402 Whole Car Odor Eliminator

Meguiar's G16402 Whole Car Odor Eliminator

Why we like it: This little can can clear your whole car of foul odors, reaching hard-to-reach spots, with the press of a button.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Type of eliminator: Fogger
  • Type of odors: All
  • Safety: Flammable and toxic (direct exposure)
  • Surfaces: All

Since 1901, Meguiar’s has been making car care products for car lover’s the world over. If you want to deodorize your whole car quickly and easily, then Meguiar’s Whole Car Odor Eliminator is a good choice for you.

This little can of aerosol makes it effortless to have your car smelling like new. With a locking trigger on the can, you can simply set it and forget it (for 15 minutes). After letting your car air out for an additional 10-15 minutes, it’s now ready to drive, free of the foul odors you’re looking to rid your car of.

You won’t have to worry about this causing any adverse reactions with the interior of your car. It won’t stain fabrics or ruin leather, plastics, or other components of your car’s interior.

Like other odor eliminating products that aim to emulate that “new car smell,” this stuff might not hit the nail on the head. However, it does leave a fresh and clean smell behind, getting into hard-to-reach places that other odor eliminators can’t.

Aside from personal smell preferences, there are really only 2 downsides to this product. First, you should absolutely not have any living things in your car when you spray it, as it’s highly toxic if you’re directly exposed to it. It’s also flammable, so you’ll want to keep it away from sparks and flames, and store it in a cool area.

That aside, it’s not as versatile as other odor eliminators like the Febreze odor eliminators. If you want something you can use in your car and home, then this might not be right for you. But of course, Febreze is generally made for fabrics only, making Meguiar’s an excellent choice if you’re looking to make your entire car smell good.

Pros

  • Works quickly
  • Simple to use
  • Works in hard-to-reach places
  • Leaves a fresh and clean smell

Cons

  • Can be toxic and flammable
  • Not as versatile as other odor eliminators

6. Best Fragrance-Free Odor Eliminator: Basic Concepts Bamboo Charcoal Odor Absorbing Bags

Basic Concepts Bamboo Charcoal Odor Absorbing Bags

Why we like it: Non-toxic, odor-free, and easy to use. You can set them and forget them, and these bags will last for 2 full years.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Type of eliminator: Charcoal bag
  • Type of odors: All
  • Safety: Non-toxic
  • Surfaces: All

If you’re sensitive to smells, it can be hard to find a good odor eliminator that doesn’t carry an overwhelming odor itself. However, the Basic Concepts Bamboo Charcoal Air Purifying Bags are a great fragrance-free odor eliminator that are great for small spaces like your vehicle. They’re also natural and non-toxic, making them great for anyone looking for a natural alternative to chemicals and sprays.

Made with activated bamboo charcoal, these bags sit idly by and adsorb odors that permeate the air. They do so by trapping the odors within the confines of the hundreds of square meters of surface area the activated charcoal has, thereby blocking odors from reaching your nose.

Of course, this means these bags aren’t good for taking care of odors at their source. As such, they aren’t great at tackling particularly offensive odors that need to be dealt with immediately, such as pet urine.

Rather, charcoal bags like these are better at controlling perpetual odors like smoke or mildew, or in situations where they’ll have time to work (which can take a while, depending on the severity and source of the odors).

They also work great in combination with other odor eliminators. Sprays that tackle odors at the source, such as Rocco & Roxie Supply’s Professional Strength Stain and Odor Eliminator, are great at zapping smells from the source, while these bags can help lessen the intensity of the spray’s fragrance.

Given that these bags are useful for up to 2 years, they are a worthy consideration as both a stand-alone and a supplemental purchase. They won’t harm your car or your loved ones, and they’ll stop your car from smelling bad.

Pros

  • Natural and non-toxic
  • Fragrance-free
  • Works for up to 2 years

Cons

  • Won't eliminate odors at their source
  • Can take a while to work

7. Best Odor Eliminating Gel: Ozium 804281-4 Smoke & Odors Eliminator Gel

Ozium 804281-4 Smoke & Odors Eliminator Gel

Why we like it: Made by a reputable brand, this works around the clock, great against recurring odors, and lasts for months.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Type of eliminator: Gel
  • Type of odors: Smoke
  • Safety: Non-flammable
  • Surfaces: All

Ozium is a popular odor eliminator, and the Ozium Smoke and Odors Eliminator Gel is a great way to keep your car smelling great for months. It deals with foul odors by attaching to airborne bacteria, odors and contaminants as it evaporates. Made to eliminate smoke and other lingering odors, it leaves a fresh fragrance in its midst.

Since this is a passive air eliminator, like Basic Concepts’ Charcoal Bags, it works around the clock to slowly eliminate odors. Likewise, it can be placed anywhere in your car to effectively eliminate odors wherever they are. Unlike charcoal, however, it will eventually reach the source of odors as the gel slowly evaporates and permeates the air.

This gel has a very synthetic, cleaner-type smell. If you’re sensitive to chemical smells, you might be better off going with something like the charcoal bags. However, they do have an adjustable vent cap. This allows you to control the amount of fragrance emitted from the can, giving you some control over the smell.

Because the gel is formulated for use in cars, it won’t melt in high temperatures that are common in vehicles during warm weather. It will, however, evaporate at a quicker rate in high temperatures, meaning the duration of their effectiveness will depend on how warm your car typically gets.

Overall, given their effectiveness on foul odors and their long-lasting effects, they’re perfect for taming recurring foul odors or just keeping your vehicle smelling clean.

Pros

  • Works for months
  • Adjustable vent caps
  • Heat-resistant gel won't melt in high temperatures
  • Works great on recurring odors like smoke

Cons

  • Won't last as long in high temperatures
  • Works slowly to eliminate odors
  • Has a strong synthetic smell

8. Best Odor Eliminator for Smoke: Armor All Smoke X Car Odor Eliminator

Armor All Smoke X Car Odor Eliminator

Why we like it: Made specifically for smoke odors, it will take away smoke smells quickly and effectively.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Type of eliminator: Fogger
  • Type of odors: Smoke
  • Safety: Flammable and toxic (direct exposure)
  • Surfaces: All

Whether you’re an ex-smoker or you’ve just bought a car from someone who smokes, you’ll find that smoke smells linger long after the smoke has cleared. Armor All’s Smoke X Car Odor Eliminator fogger quickly eliminates lingering smoke odors for good.

Unlike spot sprayers, this will work well to reach smells throughout your entire car, including inside your vents and ducts. It’s also easier to use than traditional odor eliminating sprays – simply trigger the can’s locking mechanism, turn on your air conditioner and set it to recirculate, and let the eliminator work for 15 minutes.

Like other odor eliminating foggers, this stuff is toxic if inhaled. You’ll want to remember to give your car time to air out after using it, and keep plants, pets and people clear of the vehicle during use.

While this stuff works great on combating foul odors, it won’t work as well on other foul odors as it does on smoke odors. It also has a scent that’s reminiscent of an 80s cologne, which certainly isn’t for everyone.

If you still want to go the fogger route, you might want to consider using Meguiar’s Whole Car Odor Eliminator. However, Meguiar’s eliminator is not specifically formulated to work on smoke odors, so it might not be as effective as Armor All’s solution for eliminating smoke odors.

If you’re specifically combating smoke odors, you’ll certainly want to give Armor All’s Smoke X Odor eliminator a try. Given it’s relatively low cost, it’s worth a try if you want to stop your car smelling like a stale ashtray.

Pros

  • Specially formulated to combat smoke odors
  • Quick and easy to use
  • Cheap

Cons

  • Can be toxic and flammable
  • Not as versatile as other odor eliminators
  • Smells like cologne

9. Best Vent Odor Eliminator: Armor All Car Vent and Duct Cleaner

Armor All Car Vent and Duct Cleaner

Why we like it: It makes eliminating odors from your vents easy, it has a pleasant light scent, and it kills mold and mildew.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Type of eliminator: Vent and duct aerosol
  • Type of odors: Mold and mildew
  • Safety: Flammable and toxic (direct exposure)
  • Surfaces: Vents and ducts

If you live in a warm climate with high humidity, then you’ve probably dealt with a musty smell coming from your vents at one point or another. Unlike most other odor eliminators, the Armor All Car Vent and Duct Odor Eliminator is great at combating odors from within your car’s AC system.

You’ll want to spray this into your car’s interior vents as well as the intake vent on the outside of your car. It will help kill any mold or mildew residing in your ducts, as well as any other lingering odors. To help it maximize its effectiveness, you’ll want to check out our recommendations below before using it.

The scent of this vent and duct cleaner is a light and pleasant tropical smell. However, the smell of the spray doesn’t last very long – a few days at most. This could be good or bad, depending on your preferences, but it would be nice to see a longer-lasting fragrance.

Because this spray is only for your ducts and vents, it won’t work if the source of the foul odors in your car reside elsewhere. It may also work best in combination with another effective odor eliminator, like Meguiar’s Whole Car Odor Eliminator.

Given its relatively low price, using it with another odor eliminator will help deliver a 1-2 punch to foul odors inside your vehicle. But even by itself, it’ll work wonders for musty and malodorous vents.

Pros

  • Kills mold and mildew
  • Light tropical scent
  • Low price
  • Works great as a supplemental odor eliminator

Cons

  • Only useful for ducts and vents
  • Smell doesn't last very long

10. Best Non-Toxic Odor Eliminator: Van Den Heuvels R86 Industrial Odor Eliminator

Van Den Heuvels R86 Industrial Odor Eliminator

Why we like it: Coming in a powdered form, this stuff is useful for all sorts of odors and is non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and biodegradable.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Type of eliminator: Powder
  • Type of odors: All
  • Safety: Non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and biodegradable
  • Surfaces: All salt-safe surfaces

If you have a particularly pernicious foul odor plaguing your car, you might want to consider using an industrial-strength odor eliminator. Van Den Heuvels R86 Industrial Odor Eliminator is one such product that’s meant to tackle stubborn odors like skunk smell, smoke, vomit, and decay.

What’s fascinating about this product is that, despite being an industrial-strength odor eliminator, it’s actually non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and biodegradable. But don’t let its natural makeup fool you – this isn’t your granny’s baking soda, though it works similarly.

The actual odor eliminator is a proprietary blend of odor-absorbing salts and essential oils for fragrance that you can use wet or dry. That means you can simply sprinkle it on your carpets and seats and vacuum it off later, or you can mix it with water and put it in a spray bottle.

The smell is often described as being either a vanilla or banana smell – sweet but not flowery. This can be off-putting to some, but it entirely depends on your preference. And while R86 is marketed as having a faint fragrance, some people might find it too strong. However, the smell will fade in a few days, and isn’t as overpowering as other odor eliminators like Angry Orange.

This odor eliminator is best used on the source of the odor, and you may need to leave it on for a while to work. You’ll also want to be careful with this stuff around metal in your car. Since it consists of salt and essential oils, it can damage your car’s finish or accelerate rusting on unfinished metal.

Overall, it’s a great product meant to treat horrendous smells. It’s a bit pricey, but if you’ve tried other odor eliminators to no avail, it could be worth your while to give this stuff a try.

Pros

  • Great for all types of intense foul odors
  • Industrial-strength
  • Non-toxic and environmentally friendly
  • Can be used wet or dry

Cons

  • Fragrance may be off-putting for some people
  • Can cause damage to metal and paint
  • Expensive

Everything You Need to Know About Car Odor Eliminators

man with cigarette in a car

We’ve covered some odor elimination basics and a number of great products for all smells. Before using an odor eliminator in your car, you should consider a few things to maximize their effectiveness and ensure you’re banishing offensive odors for good.

Why Old Odors Come Back

You may have used an odor eliminator in the past, only to find that the foul odors you’re trying to eliminate don’t leave permanently. There’s actually a perfectly reasonable explanation for this.

You see, sometimes smells will naturally fade on their own as they dry out. For example, as urine dries, the uric acids eventually crystallize and cease to emit urine’s pungent odor. Without removing this residue, the source of the smell still resides in your carpet or upholstery, but sits dormant.

Many odor eliminators like Febreze also contain molecules that trap odors. These odors will stay trapped within those molecules, and lie inert on the surface of your carpets, upholstery, and other surfaces where the odors originally resided.

In both cases, the re-introduction of moisture can trigger the return of foul odors. For odors like urine, the introduction of moisture allows the uric acid to begin emitting the smell back into the air. Meanwhile, odor-trapping molecules will release trapped odor-producing molecules on contact with moisture.

That’s why you may find things like Febreze an ineffective long-term solution. Even something as seemingly benign as high humidity can cause odors to resurface and re-offend.

This leaves you with 2 options: mechanically remove the source of the odor from your car, or break them down chemically. Some odors, like wet dog smell and pet urine, can be broken down with enzymes like those found in Rocco & Roxie Supply’s Professional Strength Stain and Odor Eliminator, while others may need to be removed with an upholstery or steam cleaner.

Maximizing the Effectiveness of Your Chosen Odor Eliminator

Car odor eliminators are a great alternative to tearing out your interior and doing a full detailed clean. After you’ve chosen an odor eliminator, you should make sure to do a few things to maximize their effectiveness.

Remove the Source of Offending Odors

Ashes and dirty gym bags will diminish the effectiveness of any odor eliminator. If you want your odor eliminator to completely eliminate foul odors, you should make sure to clean your car before using them. A good vacuuming and a quick once-over to make sure any stray malodorous objects are removed will help keep odors away for good.

For stubborn odors that have seeped into your car’s seats and carpet, you may need to bring out the big guns. A good steam cleaner will help any odor eliminator go the extra mile in effectively eliminating foul odors from your car.

Replace Your Cabin Air Filter

Even after you’ve cleaned your car and removed the source of the odors, you might notice offensive odors still faintly lingering. There’s a good chance that your cabin air filter is at least partially responsible for this faint lingering smell.

Because the cabin air filter filters out dust and debris from your car, it’s likely that some of the lingering odor molecules are trapped in your filter. The best solution for dealing with this is to replace your cabin filter if possible.

Cabin air filters are relatively inexpensive, and are a great way to keep the air you’re breathing clean. It’s also good practice to routinely change your cabin air filter regularly, both to keep your car smelling fresh and for optimal performance.

Use Removable Seat Covers for Pets

If you’re a pet owner, having a removable seat cover is a must to avoid pet musk. This could be anything from a blanket or sheet to an actual seat cover. A seat cover won’t prevent all accidents and smells. But having something you can easily pull out of your car and properly wash will save you the time and hassle of constantly cleaning and deodorizing your car directly.

Avoid Storing Most Odor Eliminators in Your Car

It really goes without saying, storing most odor eliminators in your car can lead to disaster. Many sprays and aerosols contain flammable substances that can cause a fire. This is especially prevalent with aerosol sprays, which can explode inside your car in extreme hot or cold temperatures.

Fire and explosion hazards aside, you’ll want to keep leakage in mind. Accidents happen and sometimes things leak. Guess where it’ll end up if you keep it stored in your car?

If you’re going with a passive odor eliminator, such as Ozium’s Smoke & Odors Eliminator Gel or Basic Concepts’ Charcoal Bags, then you shouldn’t have to worry about temperature problems or leakage. For everything else though? You might just want to leave your car’s smell-good at home.

Wrapping Up

Beating bad odors in your car doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. Keeping your car smelling great will keep you and your passengers happier. It will also help preserve your car’s resale value, meaning a small investment now can yield you greater return in the future.

Beating bad odors in your car doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. Keeping your car smelling great will keep you and your passengers happier. It will also help preserve your car’s resale value, meaning a small investment now can yield you greater return in the future.