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How To

How to remove odours from your car 

An odour (distinctive, especially unpleasant smell) can cause you to experience discomfort while you’re travelling and make it unpleasant for people to travel with you. Here are 6 tips for getting rid of those bad smells that can linger in your car:

Remove the source of the smell (and anything else that shouldn’t be there)

Things are often left under seats or seep beneath carpets of our cars (especially if we have children). If you’re picking up a bad scent in your car, the first thing to do is to locate and remove the source of the smell. While you’re at it, remove anything that doesn’t belong in your car – it’s easier to make a car smell fresh when it’s uncluttered.


Often smells get trapped in the seats and carpets. As long as you don’t heave leather seats, you can vacuum the inside of your car to try get rid of lingering odours that rest in your upholstery.

Shampoo seats and carpets

If vacuuming didn’t help (or help enough) you can shampoo your seats and carpets. Shield has a great interior car cleaning kit, which is available on Takealot.

Deodorise your aircon

This absolutely brilliant Wiki How article offers 14 tips on removing bad odours from your car’s airconditioner, primarily by using a disinfectant aerosol spray (or naturally-made product) and spraying it directly into the vents. Scotty Kilmer has an excellent YouTube video on how you can deodorise your car quite thoroughly. Watch it here:

Baking soda

Baking soda is a miracle in cars with bad ordours and is known to eliminate scents from smoke, animals and spilled dairy. Simply sprinkle on a bit of baking soda and rub into carpets or seats, and then vacuum the baking soda up. If you spill liquids, sprinkle baking soda directly onto it while it’s wet and a vacuum up.

Visit your friendly neighbourhood vallet service

Once you’ve tried everything and the smell still persists, you should visit a local car cleaning service. A full vallet service can be pricey, but they have the best (read: industrial strength) cleaning materials, many of which are made specifically for use in cars. Pay them a visit and you’ll have a brand spanking new vehicle coming back to you.

The most important thing to remember about car odours is that we tend to put them there, inadvertently via our shoes or through our own purposeful actions (like drinking and spilling coffee, smoking, doing make-up or eating). The less you bring into your car, the less there is to linger in the air.

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