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What’s that smell?

Car air freshening tips to get the funk out!

Many of us, if not all of us, have been there… Step into your car for that morning commute and it hits you faster than a wintry morning. Goodness gracious what’s that smell? Sometimes it’s just a matter of a neighbour not picking up after their dog, or maybe a friend had a smoke in your car, but it could also be a leak or something off with the motor. Smells, just like sounds can tell us a lot about our cars. This article will talk about ways to keep your vehicle out of the ‘funk zone.’ That said, sometimes no matter what you do that smell just refuses to let go. If you’re in a pinch, or don’t feel like creating your own cleaning solutions, remember nothing beats the effectiveness and speed of a professional detailing from UniglassPlus / Ziebart! So don’t hesitate, make an appointment today!


First things first. Identify your smell! Although it’s not always possible and some odours really are just a plethora of various odours, if you can identify the source of the odour it is easier to treat. So, if you’re not sure have a smell around the vehicle and try to identify the odour before taking any steps. If you can’t smell it out, you can still proceed with the following tricks to get rid of those unwanted car scents, but you will have a more difficult time resolving the issue without its source.


Vacuum. Most odours live in the fabric interior of your car so it’s best to start with a vacuum. If these smells are mostly superficial then simply vacuuming with the upholstery attachment might be enough to solve the problem. For a deeper clean try steam cleaning your interior for those longer lasting odours.

Charcoal. Charcoal is a substance, like baking soda, that absorbs free odours. (Odours left in the air.) If you have a lingering smell in the car try leaving a chunk or two of charcoal in the car for a few days and see how the odour improves.

Coffee Grounds. For a variation on this idea, you can use coffee grounds as well. That’s right, they also absorb smells! But, they leave your car smelling like coffee so if you’re not a coffee lover than perhaps skip this one…

Air Fresheners. If the smell in your car is mild or you don’t have time to properly clean your car, you can always buy an air freshener to leave in your car. However, unlike some of the other methods listed here, this one is more of a cover up than a solution. Try a natural air freshener if you want a break from those cheap gas station smell trees.

Dryer Sheets. These little sheets come in handy for more than just laundry. As well as making your clothes fresher and softer, they absorb odours and replace them with fresh scents. This option, similar to using air fresheners, is more of a cover up than a solution, but at least it gives you more of a variety of scents to choose from.

Depending on what kind of odour it is and how it got there, the strategy to take care of it can change. Cigarette smoke for instance can get everywhere in a car, not just the fabric of the interior. Because of its invasiveness to get rid of a smoke smell you have to take more extreme measures.


Although there are many options out there for ‘freshening up’ your car; however, most times those really bad odours will call for a professional cleaning. UniglassPlus / Ziebart offers a full range of interior and exterior detailing services that will leave your car smelling great.

Spray out the duct system with an air deodorizer. When smoke lingers in a car it travels back into the vehicle through the air conditioning/heating ducts. To get rid of smoke smells lodged in there you can open the hood and spray out the system with an aerosol deodorizer for cars.

Change your AC filters. In addition to cleaning out the ducts, it’s a good idea to change the filters too! Smells can easily get trapped in the filter which will be smelled as soon as the heat or AC is turned on.

Baking Soda. It works well in your fridge, and it works in your car too! If you spilled something liquid on your car seats, or somewhere else in the interior, you can rub baking soda into the area to absorb any odours that might linger. For another variation on this idea you can simply put baking soda in a Tupperware container and poke holes in the top. You can leave the Tupperware under a seat out of sight and it will still help purify the air.

Vinegar. For some odours it helps to rehydrate the spot first with a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water to kill all the bacteria stuck in the area, then to dry it up quickly. For added smell reduction, you can sprinkle baking soda on the area after spraying with water and vinegar. If you have any children who get carsick easily this is a particularly handy method to get out that odour.


For certain smells unfortunately the only action to take is to head to a garage. For instance, if you smell gas, oil, exhaust or smoke from the interior, you should have your vehicle examined. Certain smells are not only hazardous to your health, but they could mean your vehicle is in bad shape and could potentially be a threat to your safety while on the road. Smelling gas from inside the car could mean you have a leak. This is obviously hazardous as with gas leaks, you have gas inside your car which could catch fire. If you smell any of these odours, call a professional at UniglassPlus / Ziebart immediately.


You’ve tried everything, nothing works and your car still smells like you hit a skunk a few kilometres back. When all else fails, count on the professionals. UniglassPlus provides the full range of vehicle detailing, interior and exterior. When you have a smell that just won’t come out, come to us for interior detailing and Germ Defender services. Or, to help stop stains and smell before they become a problem, you could try our fabric protection and leather conditioning treatments and get long-lasting protection. Trust the technicians at UniglassPlus and get rid of that smell once and for all!