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How To Make Your Car Smell Good Naturally (5 Easy Methods)

man covering his nose from bad smell in the car

Maintaining a fresh-smelling car is not an easy gig, especially if you use it to commute on a daily basis. Regardless of how hard you try, something will always pop up. For example, you could accidentally spill some of your protein smoothie on the way to the gym, but not find time to clean it up properly because you are running late to work.

Or the family dog got sick, vomited, and you thought you did a good job cleaning it up. Only to realize after a day or two, that that kind of mess usually requires a special kind of treatment, if you’re looking to get rid of any lingering odor.

Chemical car fresheners would have made your job a lot easier, but unfortunately, they aren’t as safe as the marketers would want us to believe. Your best bet lies with natural products, as they are not only affordable and harmless but also effective at getting the job done.

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The 5 Natural Ways of Maintaining a Fresh-Smelling Car

1. Use Vinegar

white vinegar bottle_focal point_Shutterstock
Image By: focal point, Shutterstock

Vinegar has always been the solution to dealing with bad odors anywhere. You could use it in the bathroom, kitchen, living room, storeroom, etc. And the science behind how it works is pretty simple to understand.

You see, vinegar contains acetic acid, also known as ethanoic acid. It’s a type of carboxylic acid that neutralizes bad odors by killing all the mildew and bacteria responsible for causing the smell.

If you’d like to know how powerful vinegar is, try using it to get rid of any pet urine smell, or the smell of tobacco. From our experience, those are the two worst and hardest smells to extirpate from any surface.

Pour some of that vinegar solution into a bowl and leave it out in the car for a couple of weeks. We’re 100% certain that that funky smell will be gone completely, and replaced by the distinct vinegar smell. Which, by the way, is temporary.

2. Make A Homemade Baking Soda Air Freshener

Baking soda
Image Credit: evita-ochel, Pixabay

Using baking soda to get rid of bad odor in the house is one trick that has been applied for generations. And to be honest, that’s how we know it’ll work in this situation. The “why” behind this product’s successful run as one of the best odor eradicators can also be answered using chemistry.

It’s common knowledge that most smells are naturally acidic. But baking soda, a compound that’s scientifically known as sodium bicarbonate, has a pH score of 8. Meaning, when you add some of this alkaline solution to your acidic equation, it will act as a neutralizer.

The elements in baking soda are usually strong enough to break down the bonds in most acidic chemical compounds, particularly the ones causing bad odor. Subsequently, leaving you with a fresh-smelling car that doesn’t dampen your mood anytime you get in it.

All you have to do is to sprinkle some of the solution over the seats or carpets and let it settle overnight. When you wake up the next morning, vacuum and wipe all the surfaces and that’s it.

Friendly Reminder: Don’t sprinkle the solution on wet surfaces. It could turn into a paste that’s not so easy to clean up.

3. Charcoal

black charcoal
Image Credit: Wander Fleur, Unsplash

Charcoal is yet another natural odor eliminator that’s really loved by those looking to get rid of irritating, less-than-savory scents that linger after a nice wash. We have different forms of charcoal products in the market.

The best one in the group is activated charcoal, which is also an essential ingredient used in the production of skin care products and toothpaste. Activated charcoal is the most preferred because it’s a lot more porous than the other two, courtesy of the heat treatment procedure that it’s often subjected to. It’s that high-level porosity that makes it an ideal absorbent for tight spaces that contain odor-causing molecules.

To apply this product, just break it down into small pellets, and place them in a sock. A small fabric bag will also do the trick if you don’t want to ruin your socks. Put the bag in a strategic but discreet location and wait for the magic to happen.

4. Invest In Washable Covers

car backseat
Image Credit: Ammacintosh Pakpintong, Shutterstock

The other option is to go for the removable/washable covers that have been designed to protect cargo areas and seats. So anytime your kid spills something while you’re driving them to school, or if your cute pooch inadvertently messes up, all you have to do is remove all the covers before giving them a nice wash using some scented detergent.

Just be mindful while choosing detergents because some of them are detrimental to our pet’s health. Brands are always quick to share the positives or benefits of using these products, while conveniently forgetting to remind us that some of them contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Signs or symptoms of exposure include dry coughs, itchiness, rashes, etc.

5. Buy Coffee Beans

coffee beans
Image Credit: Anastasiia Chepinska, Shutterstock

Who seriously doesn’t love the energizing smell of coffee beans? Even if you’re not an avid coffee drinker, that smell alone is enough to stimulate all your senses in the morning and brighten your day.

We recently learned that the coffee-roasting process produces more than 800 different compounds—one-third of that number represents aromatic compounds. The process includes a thermal degradation procedure that helps in the decomposition of sugar and protein, to create the volatile compounds that we love smelling.

Another fun fact is that most of those reactions usually take place within the coffee bean’s cell walls, which often act as a microscopic pressure chamber.

If you’d like to use coffee beans as a deodorizer, place some in a small paper or mesh bag. Leave the bag under your car seats for a couple of days, before changing them. You’re also allowed to use ground coffee if that’s what’s accessible but put it in a small container.

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We believe these natural odor-eliminating hacks will save you the embarrassment of other people thinking you’re not a clean person (or struggling with bad body odor) whenever they board your car.

The chemicals found in them are also naturally occurring, meaning they can’t really harm your pets unless they are allergic to some of them.

Featured Image Credit: daniiD, Shutterstock


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