People spend large portions of their time in their cars. You’re in your car during your daily commutes to and from work, and you also spend plenty of time driving during the weekend when you run errands or do things with your family. Because you spend so much of your time driving, it’s important for you to enjoy that time as much as you possibly can – and a big part of that is ensuring that your car smells clean and fresh.

If your car smells bad, it isn’t just a detriment to the time that you spend in it – it also reduces the value of one of your biggest investments. Nobody wants to buy a car that doesn’t smell good, and an unpleasant smell will drastically lower your car’s resale value. Thankfully, any unwanted odours in a car that arise from normal use are usually relatively easy to eliminate as long as you exercise the right habits and stop doing the things that cause those odours. In this article, we’ll explain exactly what you need to do.

Stop Smoking in Your Car

If you smoke in your car, you definitely need to stop doing so before trying any of the other tips in this article because nothing makes a car smell bad more quickly than the odour of stale tobacco smoke. If you follow all of the other advice in this guide to the letter but continue smoking in your car, you’ll have wasted your time because the smoke smell will permeate your vehicle again within just a few days.

What can you do as an alternative? Buying a vape kit from a quality UK vape shop like Cloud City is your best option because vaping doesn’t leave a foul odour in your car. It’s also just as satisfying as smoking, so making the switch is easy. You may even find that you enjoy vaping enough to quit smoking entirely.

Stop Eating in Your Car

Although smoking is by far the worst thing that you can do if you want your car to smell nice, eating in your car isn’t far behind. It’s almost impossible to prevent the crumbs from collecting under the seats and in the upholstery – and within a few days, your car will smell like stale fish and chips. If you want your car to smell like new for as long as it possibly can, you need to avoid eating in it. If you’re the type of person who enjoys grabbing a drive-through meal during your lunch break and eating it in your car, you’ve got to break that habit. Try eating your lunch at a local park instead.

Don’t forget that if you do eat or drink in your car, you should always take the rubbish with you and discard it when you get out of the car. Don’t ever leave things like wrappers and drink cups in your car overnight.

Give Your Car a Deep Cleaning

Once you’ve stopped doing the things that contribute to unwanted odours in your car, you’re ready to give your vehicle a top-to-bottom cleaning. In doing so, you’ll get rid of the dust, crumbs and other odour-causing particles that prevent your car from smelling fresh. Start by using a vacuum to clean all of the seats and upholstery in your car, including in the boot. Don’t forget to vacuum under the floormats and under the seats. Your goal is to clean all of the hard-to-reach spaces that you normally skip when you vacuum your car.

When you’re done vacuuming your car, you should buy or rent a steam cleaner, which will allow you to clean and disinfect your car’s upholstery more thoroughly. You can safely clean your car’s floor and fabric seats with a steam cleaner, but you should ask a detailing professional for advice if your car has leather seats.

Check the Sunroof and Weather Stripping

Does your car ever smell musty? If it does, there’s a good chance that water is entering the vehicle through a crack in the weather stripping around the doors, boot or sunroof. Look for signs of standing water on the car’s floor, in the glove box and in the boot. If you find a wet spot, that should lead you to the source of the water ingress. If your car has a sunroof, don’t forget to check the drainage channels. You should also remove any twigs and leaves that may be under the bonnet because the debris can impede the flow of rainwater away from the car.

If you find a crack or hole in your car’s weather stripping, you can fix it in the short term by applying a little silicone sealant. The only way to fix the problem permanently, though, is by replacing the faulty stripping. You can find the weather stripping and adhesive at a local dealership or auto parts store.

Replace the Cabin Air Filter

Once you’ve done everything that you can to clean your car and remove possible sources of unwanted odours, the final thing that you need to do is replace the cabin air filter. If you take your car to the dealership according to the recommended maintenance schedule, this may have already been done for you recently. If not, you’ll need to do it yourself about once a year. The good news is that a new cabin air filter is quite inexpensive, and you can replace it easily yourself even if you ordinarily aren’t comfortable working on your own car. You can find the location of the cabin air filter in your car’s instruction manual, but it’s usually behind the glove compartment. Replacing it generally takes about 10 minutes.

Remove Stubborn Odours with an Ozone Generator

If your car has a stubborn odour that doesn’t go away with a deep cleaning, it’s possible that the odour is caused by bacterial growth from a spill or mould growth from water ingress. In this case, running an ozone generator in the car can help to eliminate the smell permanently. You can rent one from a local auto detailer, or the detailer can do the work for you. Ozone rapidly oxidises organic molecules, breaking them down and rendering them inert. If there’s an obvious stain in your car, you should start by spraying it with a strong enzyme-based cleaner. After you’ve done that, you’ll need to run the ozone generator in your car for a few hours. When the process is complete, your car will smell almost like new.