As a mother of two young children, opening the car door is always an adventure. What kind of smell will hit my face today? Rotten milk? Forgot your wet clothes at the pool? Four-day-old grilled cheese that the kids threw on the floor?
The possibilities are endless. Driving in a clean car that smells good will make your drive more enjoyable. Sure, you can invest in store-bought air fresheners, but they can sometimes give you a headache.
Sometimes you want to use natural and environmentally friendly methods to refresh the smell of your car without using chemicals. So, I did some research and compiled a list of 12 ways to deodorize your car naturally.
1. Remove trash immediately
One of the best ways to combat odors is to make sure they aren’t present in the first place. It’s true that your car will always develop a bad odor over time, but you can minimize the strong odor by not letting debris build up inside your car. You’d be surprised how even a day-old empty McDonald’s bag can affect your car’s odor profile. Drink cups should also be thrown away after use. If you often eat in your car, it may be helpful to have a designated garbage bag that you remember to empty every day.
2. Ventilation is important
This is one thing I tend to forget, but if you park in a garage like I do, you can leave the windows cracked to ventilate the inside of the car. Circulating fresh air will push bad odors out. You can also ventilate the inside of your car while driving and quickly circulate outside air to refresh the air. Before cracking open a window, notice the scent around your car.
3. Baking Soda Magic
If you have cloth seats, baking soda can be a game-changer. Baking soda is a natural odor eliminator that can trap odors in your seats and carpets. Sprinkle baking soda on your car’s upholstery and carpet, let it sit for at least 15 minutes, then vacuum thoroughly to remove odors. You can also place an open container of baking soda in your car to absorb any ongoing odors, just like humans do in the refrigerator.
4. Cat litter
Now, this may sound like a gag, but one of the main properties of most kitty litter boxes is that they absorb the pungent smell of cat waste. Now imagine what an all-natural kitty litter box would do to your car’s interior. However, the problem is that it can get messy. You can treat it like baking soda, or you can take a more direct approach by sprinkling it on upholstery or mats, or you can fill a bag with baking soda and hang it in your car for a few days. When choosing the cat litter to use, make sure it’s natural, low-odor, and doesn’t have a strong scent of its own. Scented cat litter isn’t really the profile you want in your car.
5. Citrus freshness
Citrus is one of my favorite scents and is also a natural deodorant. Place cut lemons, limes, and oranges in your car, and as they dry, they will give off a nice aroma. You can also put some citrus-scented essential oil on a cotton pad and keep it in your cup holder. However, be careful with the oils you use, as some essential oils can be dangerous to children and animals.
6. Activated carbon absorption
This sounds weird, but it works. My mom is a fan of activated charcoal for its many uses, and I’ve discovered that it’s also a great odor absorber. It works similar to baking soda. You can purchase a small pouch containing powdered activated charcoal and keep it in an inconspicuous place, such as under your seat or in your glove compartment.
7. Herb bouquet
Fresh herbs and flowers are great for car odor. Of course, you can’t keep a glass vase of water in your car. I’m talking about making a small bouquet or sachet of herbs and hanging it in your rearview mirror. It’s cute and effective.
8. Coffee grounds
I think coffee is secretly magical. Not only does it provide energy to my life, it is also known for absorbing odors. To neutralize the odor, keep dried coffee grounds in your car in an open container or sachet. I want to smell like a pumpkin spice latte everywhere I go.
9. Vinegar deodorizing spray
Vinegar is an excellent all-purpose cleaning agent and deodorizer. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle and lightly mist your car’s seats, carpets, and interior surfaces. There will be a pungent odor at first, but once the vinegar dries, the odor will be neutralized and the odor will disappear.
10. Essential oil diffuser
We have oil diffusers at home, and now they’re made for your car too. These devices connect to your air vents and send pleasant scents into your car. Refreshing scents of peppermint, eucalyptus, and lavender create a calming atmosphere. Remember to do your research on which oils are safe for you.
11. DIY potpourri pouch
Similar to my herbal bouquet idea, you can create a car-friendly potpourri by combining dried flowers, herbs, and spices in a breathable fabric pouch. Dry herbs and flowers, place these pouches strategically in your car, and enjoy the soothing aroma.
12. Regular cleaning routine
Remember, the easiest way to prevent odors in your car is to keep it clean. This is difficult this time of year with babies, but if you vacuum regularly, clean up spills right away, and wipe down surfaces as often as possible, your car will thank you. . And so will your nose.
Research journalist, freelance writer, editor-in-chief
- Specialties: Automotive content, trending topics.
- Education: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Tourneau University.
- Over 400 articles and short news stories are published on the web.
experience: Madison Cates is a journalist living in the great state of Texas. She started writing over eight years ago. Her first major research paper was published in the Journal of Business and Economics in 2018. After growing up in a household with her eight siblings and her father who was always restoring old Camaros, she naturally pivoted her freelance career to the automotive industry. There she found her passion.
Her experience paved the way for working with multiple large companies on automotive news and trending topics. Now she has found her home in Wealth of Geeks and proudly serves as Editor-in-Chief of Her Autos. Madison is always interested in the latest beautiful cars on the market and enjoys providing her readers with tips to make car ownership easier and more enjoyable.