5 Fresh Ideas for How to Keep Your Car Smelling Good

Between the dog, the kids, their sports equipment, and all the dirty shoes that come in and out, it can feel impossible to keep your car smelling fresh and clean. Wouldn’t it be great if you could hold on to that coveted “new car smell” forever? Maybe you can. Whether your car is brand new or just new to you, here are five low-cost ways to keep your car smelling awesome for months to come. These tricks will help fight bad car odors for good!

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How to Keep Your Car Smelling Good

#1: Laundry Scent Boosters

This trick is perfect for the guy or gal who loves the smell of fresh laundry. Stob by the dollar store or your local Wal-Mart and buy a pack of sheer organza bags. You can get a pack of 10 for less than $5. These little bags are often used to hand out wedding favors, but they can pull double duty to help keep your car smelling fresh, too.

Next, fill the organza bags about halfway full with your favorite laundry scent booster, like Downy Unstoppable or Gain Fireworks. Place the bags under your seats and in the car doors for a vehicle that smells as fresh as a daisy.

Pro-Hack: Don’t have any scent boosters to spare? You can also open up a new pack of dryer sheets and stick the whole package under the driver’s seat. Then when you’re in a pinch and smell like cigarettes, the gym, or a double bacon cheeseburger, just grab a dryer sheet and rub it all over your clothes. You’ll smell like you pulled your clothes right from the laundry!

#2: DIY Fabric Refresher

Sure, you could buy a bottle of fabric refresher from the store for around $5 or $6, or you could make your own with stuff you already have at home. Try this trick to keep your floor mats and fabric car seats smelling like they’ve never seen a french fry or wet sneaker.

Make your own car-friendly fabric refresher by combining 1 part liquid fabric softener, 1 part baking soda, and 2 parts warm water in a spray bottle.

  1. Using a funnel, pour 1 part baking soda into a spray bottle.
  2. Fill with 2 parts warm water.
  3. Add 1 part liquid fabric softener.
  4. Close bottle and shake.
  5. Spray on your car seats and floor mats.
  6. Enjoy affordable freshness!

NOTE: Do not try this on leather, faux leather, or suede interiors. When in doubt, test this homemade spray on an inconspicuous area of your upholstery before you spray it throughout your car. Baking soda is a safe, natural, and effective odor absorber even when dissolved in a liquid, however, you can never be too safe when it comes to the interior of your car.

#3: Bring Out the Baking Soda

Yes, we’re still talking about baking soda! Baking soda is a rockstar when it comes to deodorizing and cleaning. It’s especially great at absorbing pet, baby, and smoke odors.Plus, a box often costs less than a $1. It’s essentially a miracle powder for frugal-minded drivers!

For fabric upholstery and carpeting, sprinkle baking soda on spots and stains. Rub into the fabric with a brush or towel. Let sit overnight. In the morning, vacuum your car and enjoy an odor-free drive for days.

#4: Candles and Wax Cubes

There are a few different ways you can use scented wax cubes or unlit candles to freshen up your ride. One option is to put scented wax cubes into a half-size mason jar. Screw on a top with holes to create a DIY air freshener that you can place under your seat or in a cup holder. Your car will smell better and better as the wax gets softer and softer!

You can also keep an unlit candle in one of your cup holders. As your car heats up, the candle will release your favorite scent, whether it’s fresh cut roses, lavender vanilla, or clean cotton!

#5: Replace a Dirty Cabin Air Filter

If you’ve never replaced your cabin air filter and you’re dealing with a stinky car… this one’s a no-brainer. It’s definitely time to replace your cabin air filter! This filter is designed to keep the air inside your vehicle’s cabin clean. It’s job is to filter the air that comes through the car’s HVAC system to prevent dust, pollen, smog, and mold spores from entering your car.

Mechanics generally recommend that you have this filter replaced every 15,000 to 25,000 miles, or once a year. Thankfully, changing a cabin air filter is a do-it-yourself project. Cabin filters are relatively cheap (around $15 to $25) and you can turn to your owner’s manual or YouTube for instructions on removing and replacing this filter.

Maintain Your “New Car Smell”

The best way to keep your car smelling good is to deal with messes as soon as possible, avoid smoking in your car, clean it on a regular basis, and deodorize as soon as a bad smell invades. Even so, knowing how to keep your car smelling good doesn’t mean it’s easy to do.

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how clean you keep your car, how fresh it smells, or how shiny the windows are. Every car feels less than new at some point. If you’re ready to upgrade your ride, apply for a car loan on myAutoloan today. We’ll connect you with up to four car loan offers that match your needs, and we’ll do it in just a few minutes— that’s faster than you can vacuum your floorboards!