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3 Steps for Removing Smells from Cars

3 Steps for Removing Smells from Cars

Odors are everywhere, including in our cars. But, unlike odors in our homes, if you have an odor in your car, it can be easy to forget about it. That’s just because you probably don’t spend as much time in your car as you do your home. If the odor is always around you, you’ll be more inclined to take care of it. But we also think you’d be more inclined to take care of an odor in your car if you knew that the steps for removing it are short and simple! In this post, we’ll walk you through how to remove odors from cars in a maximum of three steps.

Step 1: Set the Scene

Pretreat is a term we like to use when cleaning and removing stains and odors. Of course, pretreating applies to removing odors from cars, too… it just isn’t as literal as you may think in this case. This includes trying to figure out the cause of your smelly car. It may be a musty smell from a previous water spill that wasn’t able to properly dry or an accident that Fido left behind last time you both went for a ride. The cause could also be your car mats. If that’s the case, you’ll need to know how to remove odors from car mats and the steps below will help!

  • Remove the mats and put them on your driveway or garage floor.
  • Sprinkle one of our Febreze Deodorizing Carpet Powders on the mats.
  • Let the powder sit for a few minutes.
  • Vacuum the powder off the mats using a hand vac.

Our Febreze carpet powders are our first recommendation to remove smells in cars because they’re so easy to use! Once you sprinkle the powder on the carpet, it clings to dirt and odor-causing particles, so they’re easier to vacuum up. All you’re left with is a fresh scent.  Plus, we offer them in three scents; Extra Strength Pet Odor Eliminator, Gain Scent and Hawaiian Aloha™.

“I have used this in the cars and the house. LOVE IT. Even my husband notice[d] when I used it!”*  -Alice, 5-star review

*Review from as of 7/24/19. Some reviewers may have received a free product in exchange for an honest review.

However, if your odor is stronger and the carpet powder doesn’t seem to be enough, don’t fret, you can move on to the next step.

Step 2: Deep Clean and Deodorize

The second step in how to remove bad odors from cars requires some, or all, of the following tools:

One of our first recommendations whenever someone asks how to remove bad odor from cars is InstaClean™ Home & Auto Pre-treat Stain & Odor Remover. Not only does it help get rid of smell in cars, it also helps get rid of stains in cars. It’s the perfect precursor to deep cleaning car carpets and upholstery.


For the task of deep cleaning, any of our portable carpet cleaners are capable of getting the job done, including our Little Green® ProHeat® Portable Carpet Cleaner. This machine comes with special tools that are perfect for removing smelly stains in your car.

“We used it to clean the carpets and seats in three vehicles and we were amazed at how much dirt and grime it got out. The car interiors haven't looked this good in years! It's a great product!”- Phil, 5-star review

*Review from as of 7/24/19. Some reviewers may have received a free product in exchange for an honest review.

No matter which portable carpet cleaner you decide to use, always make sure you’re using our formulas that are specific for portable carpet cleaners. When you need to know how to get smell out of cars, you can count on our specially formulated Professional Spot and Stain + Oxy Formula and Febreze Spring & Renewal™ Spot & Stain Removal. Professional Spot and Stain + Oxy can remove some of the toughest odors, like garlic, onion and fish, and it’s formulated to deep clean and remove stains and odors fast and effectively. Our Spring & Renewal formula is a great option, too. It can remove stains and odors that are deep in your car’s carpet and upholstery while adding the fresh scent of Febreze.

Step 3: Sit Back, Relax and Breathe!

We saved the best step for removing smell from cars for last. And lucky for you, it’s also the easiest! Once you’ve cleaned your car’s carpet and upholstery, all that’s left to do is wait for them to dry. When everything dries (and it shouldn’t take long), you can put the mats back in your car and take a big deep breath in, knowing that you removed the odors from your car.

Certain trademarks used under license from The Procter & Gamble Company or its affiliates.


Next Article:
The Positive Role Pets Play During Social Distancing
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