How do you get a nasty smell out of your car?

Does anyone have any tips for getting a stink out of my car? There was a nasty rainstorm about two months ago and some of the water got in my car. It kind of smells like mildew and rotten milk. Air fresheners only last about a day or two and that just kind of “masks” the smell. I really don’t want to bring my car in to get shampooed so I’m looking for a quick, inexpensive method. any ideas?

Try getting some of those DampRid[sup]®[/sup] hanging thingies at Walmart. That should help dry out the interior, that’s what’s causing that mildew smell. After it’s dry in there (you may need to replace it a couple of times), sprinkle some baking soda over the carpet and brush it in. Let it sit for a day and then vacuum it up. You may want to put some on the seats too if they’re fabric. No guarantee it’ll work, but it couldn’t hurt.



My ex-husband had to sell a car once b/c he got drunk, passed out and threw up in it. We tried EVERYTHING, including having it professionally detailed it still smelled like drunk puke.

We traded it in to the dealership for a new car!

Sorry I know tha doesn’t help but it’s what we did.

I’d try Febreze. I’ve had good luck with the stuff, as it doesn’t just cover up odors. They’ve also released a new “auto” version of the stuff, though I just use the regular one.

Take a bath!




For my personal autos, I always just stuck with baking soda and rolled windows, but there is a more professional option as well.

A good car detailer will have a carpet shampoo which also contains a chemical drying agent. They’ll remove the carpets that can be removed and vacuum them and the interior with a high-powered shop-vac to get some of the moisture out. Then they’ll shampoo the crap out of the carpets to kill whatever is alive in them. After an hour or two, the carpets are relatively dry, and the’re vacuumed again to suck off the dusty crud the shampoo leaves behind.

You can of course try this yourself, but I recommend doing it on a warm sunny day, and don’t put the floormats back in the car until they’re fully dried.

If that doesn’t work, most big towns usually have an auto interior specialist who uses some funky machine which we colloquially called an “ionizer.” I don’t know how it works, but the guy would leave it inside a car overnight and somehow it would get most of the nasty stink out. Ask around at car dealerships and you’ll probably find a way to get in touch with those folks.

Oh, one more thing: don’t forget the trunk!

Pull all the carpeting and–if possible–plastic lining out of the trunk of the car, and be sure to check under the spare tire as well. It’s been my experience that the worst smells are created by lots of swamp-water collecting in the concavities of the trunk.

Thank you for that piece of advice sofa king. I did have a lot of water that accumulated in the trunk. I did’nt think of it before but that may be where most of the smell is coming from.

When checking the trunk, also remove any dead hookers you find there. That’s where most of the smell in my car comes from.

Yes, another good suggestion!

I’ll second the Febreze suggestion. When we bought our car, for whatever reason, it did not have floormats. Come wintertime, we found out that floormats are important–the melting snow really caused the car to reek! So, we bought some floormats and some Febreze, and it worked like a charm (Yeah, the Febreze doesn’t smell that great either, but at least that smell eventually goes away, taking the musty smell with it!)