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How to Get Mice Smell Out of Car Upholstery & Car Vents in 7 Steps

man covering his nose from bad smell in the car

If you’re a car owner, you probably ensure your car looks presentable and clean. When vehicles get infested and mice access the car, it can be hard to eliminate the unpleasant smell. To keep your car clean and smelling nice, read our guide below to remove the rodent odor from your upholstery and vents. We’ll review the necessary materials and the seven simple steps to remove the odor.

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Before you begin

Dealing with mice or any other type of rodents can harm your health as they can transfer diseases. That’s why you should always be adequately prepared before you clean anything that was or is infested with mice. To do the job without any problems, you will need:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Flashlight
  • Mask
  • Sealable plastic bags

The 7 Steps to Remove Mice Smell from Car Upholstery & Car Vents

1. Locate the source

porsche car exhaust
Image Credit: contratempo, Pixabay

The first thing you need to do is locate the source of the smell, which usually comes from a dead mouse or mouse droppings. You’ll need to find the exact spot to exterminate the mouse or clean the urine and droppings. Try to locate the place by smelling the areas in your vehicle. The odor will be powerful, so finding the mouse shouldn’t be too hard.

Possible hiding spots for mice

Vehicles don’t have a lot of space to hide, and mice usually like to hide near the engine where it’s warm. It’s best first to remove the cowling and inspect the area between the front seats and the engine. Mice don’t like being spotted, so it is a perfect place to hide as it’s often not checked.

Once you check that compartment, if there are no mice, you can vacuum and dust it to remove excess dirt. Also, lift the carpets and remove the seats to inspect the area. Remove the dash components and check out the area as well.

2. Remove dead rodents (if there are any)

mouse up close
Image Credit: MainelyPhotos, Shutterstock

If you find a dead mouse, you must remove it from your vehicle. Wear rubber gloves and a face mask before touching the mouse. Gently pull it out to ensure no parts get stuck in your vehicle. Place the mouse in a plastic bag and seal it before disposing it in a trashcan.

You should first clean the area where you found the mouse. Spray it with a disinfectant and let it soak in for 5 to 10 minutes. Once the time passes, clean the area with an odor remover.

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3. Prep the car

engine of a blue car
Image Credit: Devolk, Pixabay

You should’ve already removed all removable car parts during step one, which will help with the preparation. Still, there are some other things you will need to do. First, ensure that the windows are rolled down.

It’s best to clean the car outside because of the smell and potential bacteria. Open the vents in your dashboard and turn on your car to allow it to warm up.

4. Blow out the vents

cleaning air vent through steaming
Image Credit: khunkorn, Shutterstock

This part can be messy, so ensure you wear a mask and gloves again. Open the driver’s door, and crank up the heat in the vehicle. This step can take a minute or more, depending on how much debris and dirt is stuck in the vents.

You should see plenty of debris coming out since cars collect a lot of dirt. Once nothing else comes out of the vents, slide the temperature up and down. That way, you will verify there’s nothing else in the vents.

5. Fumigate

fumigating the air vent
Image Credit:, Shutterstock

Once you’re sure there’s nothing else coming out of the vents, you will need to fumigate them. You’ll need to do it because although you can eliminate the feces by blowing out the vents, the urine can be embedded in the plastic.

Purchase a fumigating liquid and spray it in the vents. Once you spray it, leave it to react and do its job. You could also use bleach or vinegar instead of fumigating liquids.

6. Clean the seats

cropped man scrubbing the car seat
Image Credit: bogdanhoda, Shutterstock

Getting the smell out of your car seats can be challenging. We suggest soaking them with vinegar and leaving them in a sunny spot to dry. It will kill the germs and bacteria on the car seats and ensure your seats are spotless.

If needed, repeat this step two or three times until the smell is gone from the seats. Since vinegar is a natural ingredient, it will not harm your car seats in any way, no matter how many times you repeat this step.

7. Final touchup

person vacuuming the car interior
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Last but not least, spray any touchable surfaces with disinfectant and clean the area after a couple of minutes. Vacuum the floors, or use a steam cleaner to ensure everything is bacteria and dirt-free. Once all of the steps are done, there shouldn’t be any foul smells coming from your vehicle.

divider 5 Additional Tips & Tricks

The best way to not avoid pungent odors in your vehicle is to take preventative measures. Think about why the mice accessed your car. Are you leaving leftover food and trash in the vehicle? Is your vehicle’s hygiene always on point? Try to practice regular car maintenance, which will prevent mice from accessing your car or at least reduce their chances of accessing it.

If you notice a problem with mice in your car, use a rodent repellent to repel them and prevent them from returning to your vehicle. Do not put rodent poison in the car because the mice can eat it and then die in a difficult-to-reach area of your vehicle.

You could also take your car to a mechanic to do the job, but be aware that it can be pricey. Most mechanics charge per hour, and it might be hard for them to locate the mouse. So, if possible, try to do the job yourself first. It can be exhausting, but at least you will save some cash.

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Mice are clever pests that can wiggle into small holes and narrow passages. Dealing with mice and unpleasant mice smells in your vehicle can be difficult. Still, if you follow the cleaning process we provided, you shouldn’t have any issues getting rid of the odor. Be persistent, and after you finish, practice prevention. That way, you can be sure that mice can no longer access your car.

Featured Image Credit: daniiD, Shutterstock


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