Overwhelmed by that mysterious nauseating smell in your car and unable to find out what caused it? Unfortunately, like the human body, car odours can also be bothersome and triggered by a variety of causes. So, if you have a stinking car, you need to identify the root cause and take care of it before it turns into a menace.


Most odours can be easy to eliminate, you just need to identify the source before you start treating the smell itself. And to make your job easier, here is a list of common odours and the simplest ways to handle them.


New car smell

New cars have a strong odour similar to a newly painted house. While some people love this smell, for those with allergies, this peculiar smell is definitely not good. The good news is this is probably the easiest smell to remove:

  • Remove all the plastic coverings inside the car.
  • Roll down the windows more often while driving.
  • Leave the car heater on for a few hours to get rid of the smell.
  • Put non-toxic substances like baking soda, charcoal and vinegar mixed with water in the car to absorb the smell.


Cigarette smell

The musty smell of cigarettes permeates the porous surface of the car interior and is extremely bothersome. It is also sticky, forming resins on the surfaces. The easiest way to avoid is to stop smoking in the car. If at all you want to, don’t smoke with the air conditioner on. Roll down the windows more often and put a vinegar/water (1:1) solution to absorb the smell.



Mildew smell

This distinct smell is caused by moisture accumulated inside your car. This can be annoying and a health menace specially for the elderly and children. Do note that air freshener is not a solution and in fact can add to the smell. Instead, dry out the mats, carpets and upholstery regularly. Vacuum the car and place anti absorbents like baking soda, anti-mildew solution etc. Keep the windows slightly open when parked, if it’s safe to do so.


Burnt rubber smell

Overheated brakes emanate this strong odour that goes off in a few hours. If you are getting this smell, stop putting too much pressure on your accelerator and brake. Also, get your brakes checked.


Car sickness/Food smell

If you have children, the probability of them eating in the car, or being car-sick can be high. To remove all such smells, brush your car interiors with a mixture of vinegar and water. Leaving a bowl of vinegar/water mixture overnight also helps.



Preventive measures


As with anything else, prevention is better than cure for car odours. Follow the steps below if you want your car to keep smelling fresh.

  • Vacuum/clean your car regularly. Scrub the car upholstery periodically.
  • Use an automotive cleaning spray to get rid of stains and kill bacteria.
  • Wash cup holders and storage compartments regularly and keep them dry at all times.
  • Dusting air vents with a brush goes a long way in preventing the circulation of the musty smell
  • Clean the car as soon as you can if there has been any spillage or soiling.
  • Get your car serviced periodically


Keep a mild car freshener of your choice in the car, but remember that in the Indian heat, car freshener cans can be dangerous. Also strong car fresheners are not advisable as the smell stays in the car for a long time and can mix with the sweat and dust to form an unpleasant odour. A little care will ensure that your car smells great forever.

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