10 Genius Ways to Make Your Car Smell as Good as New

Attack those unwanted car odors with these simple methods.

Published March 30, 2023

It's been three weeks, you've pulled out and vacuumed the mats, and you still can't find the smell. We've all been there when you're crying to anyone who'll listen that nothing you do makes your car smell good. Since we spend so much time in our cars, we want them to smell great (and if possible) keep that new car smell lingering long after we bought it. Never fear, we've got some great DIY ideas to keep your car smelling fresh.

Coffee Really Does Work Miracles


There's a reason that people use coffee beans to clear their senses at the perfume counter. Coffee's oh-so pleasant smell helps clear out the nose from any strong aromatics. It can also knock out any lingering smells in your dirty pickup. Just toss a few cups of coffee beans into an old sock, tie it off, and throw it under your seat. After a few days, you shouldn't be smelling anything other than the addictive aromas of a good old cup of joe.

Sprinkle a Little Baking Soda and Vacuum It Up


Baking soda really is the 8th wonder of the natural cleaning world. Is there something it can't help clean? Need to get rid of stubborn smells in your car but don't have the time for a deep clean? Take a box of baking soda, and pour it on your mats and seats. Leave it overnight and vacuum it in the morning. If the smells persists, leave an open box of it in the driver's door pocket for a few more days.

Follow Johnny Appleseed's Advice


Incredibly, apples aren't just good for eating! They're also great at absorbing smells. So, you can cut up a couple of apples and put them on a plate in your car for a few hours. The smells should start to dissipate. You can repeat this step as often as you like, or toss in a few slices as a preventative measure.

Bring the Dryer Sheets to a New Location


When you're unloading your groceries, you never have to guess which bag has the dryer sheets in them, since all you have to use is your nose. These things pack a fragrant punch in a tiny sheet, and they'll work just as well as they do in the laundry to fight off smells in your car. Leave a dryer sheet or two in your floorboards overnight and see if your car is off to a fresh start.

Add a Cotton Ball Filled With Essential Oils


In the past two decades, essential oils have gotten a ton of traction. Although there's much debate over their health properties, there's no doubt that they can help fill a room with delightful scents. Overpower the harsh smells in your car by soaking a cotton ball with a few drops of essential oil and leaving it on a plate or in a baggie.

Just be careful about using any essential oils in your car if you know that you're going to be transporting animals, since many of them are dangerous to pets.

Go Old Fashioned With a Potpourri Bag


If you're really feeling in tune with your ancestors today, you can get inspired by their old home traditions with this potpourri trick. Potpourri is a mixture of dried flowers and herbs you put into a small bag or bowl to add great smells to a room. The same can apply to your car. Add some cloves, cinnamon sticks, dried orange slices, rose petals, and the like to a mesh bag and leave it in your car for a few days.

Burn an Incense Stick Before Driving


If you want a quick fix to your less-than-perfect smelling car, leave an incense stick or two in your car. Not only do they have a strong aroma on their own, but (with the windows cracked) you can light one and let it burn for a minute or two before you crank the car. The new smell should last for your whole car ride. And they come in a wide variety of amazing smells.

Clean Our Your Air Vent


If you've got a lingering smell, you want to attack it from the source. For most cars, this can be coming from a clogged air vent that can't filter out smells as well as it used to. Fixing it doesn't mean just wiping down the vents on the outside, but rather vacuuming out the vent, as well as spraying compressed air inside to loosen up any debris. If all else fails, change your air filter.

Foster That New Car Smell With Ozium


Since the 1940s, people have been using Ozium to deodorize their cars. According to Car and Driver's website, dealerships use Ozium to bring back that fresh new car smell when detailing any in their fleet. Simply spray a liberal amount in your car and close the doors for about 15-30 minutes. This should give the Ozium long enough time to combat the odor-causing particles.

Clean and Condition Your Leather for a New Car Smell


If you've got a car with a real leather interior, then you can bring back that new leather smell by properly caring for your leather seats. Before they get to that crackling point of no return, get some leather cleaner and conditioner, and work it into your upholstery. Often, these come with an artificial 'leather' smell that'll help evoke that iconic aroma profile.

Say Goodbye to Air Fresheners for Good


We all know that keeping our cars clean is the ideal way to stop any pungent odors from sticking into the interior. But, if we're being honest with ourselves, we know that we'll just deal with the smells when they start popping up. So, attack those unwanted fumes with any of these DIY car freshener ideas, and you'll have a car that smells so good you won't want to get out.

10 Genius Ways to Make Your Car Smell as Good as New