How to get rid of that fake 'new car' smell

Removing Odors in Your Car

Related Articles

Eliminating Gasoline Smells

Removing Smoke Odors

Eliminating Fuel Smells from Laundry

Eliminating Musty Smells

Removing Odors

We bought a 2003 Toyota Camry the end of November with fabric seats. The dealer detailed the car to make it smell nice. However, the smell is still horrible and makes my eyes burn and nose run. The dealer swore it would disappear very soon once the car was aired out.

Being sensitive to all chemicals and perfume type products, I have not been able to sit or drive in the car, so hubby takes it instead. Although it's freezing in NY right now, my hubby drives with the windows open whenever possible. When he comes home, we leave the windows open every afternoon/evening until we go to bed. We placed a small pan with baking soda on the floor in back to absorb the odors, but to no avail. The chemical and perfume smells that were sprayed when the car was detailed still persist almost two months later. It just does not get better. What can I do to get the smell and chemicals out of the fabric seats, rug, upholstered sides and roof of car?
Renee T.

Removing Odor Source from Car

When that happened to us, it took us a while to find them, but they had small cardboard pieces soaked in scent that had been hidden throughout the car. They were placed strategically so they are hard to find.

13 Ways to remove odors naturally

Charcoal Removes Odors from Car

Have you tried placing a shallow pan or box underneath the seat with charcoal briquets in it? Activated charcoal pulls odors out of a lot of things. This would be a relatively inexpensive fix if it can handle the strong odors you mention.

Use Volcanic Rock to Remove Odors

Home Depot and Lowes (and probably other stores) sell these little mesh bags of Volcanic Rock (or so it's called) that are supposed to absorb odors. It worked with a musty odor for me. It's worth a try.

Coffee Great at Removing Car Odors

Perhaps you can try coffee grounds to aid in removing those odors. I found that putting coffee grounds in our refrigerators when we move made a huge difference in keeping "spoiled food" odors at bay. Since you're so sensitive to the chemicals the dealer used, put about a pound of cheap coffee (store brand is fine) in panty hose, tie the hose in a knot and put the grounds into a plastic throwaway type bowl in the floorboard of the back seating area. Change the grounds out about once a week; hopefully, you'll notice a big difference in just a couple of weeks. Since the odors are so strong, you might want to put a pound of grounds in the front floorboard, as well.
Tracy S.

Ionizer Removes Odors

Did you buy the car from a dealer? If so, take it back and have them plug in an ionizer for 24 hour. It even gets rid of cigarette smoke.

More uses for baking soda

Using Baking Soda to Remove Odor

Instead of using a pan of baking soda, sprinkle the carpet and the upholstery with a generous amount of baking soda (make sure the material is dry). Gently brush it all over to attain full coverage. Let it stand for a few hours to absorb the offending odor and then vacuum it all up. I have used this method in both my vehicle and my house.
Robert in Zelienople, PA

Removing Odors With Vinegar

I have had that problem too. Place one or two bowls of white vinegar in the car for a day or two (while it is parked). Vinegar removes odors. I use it in my house to remove cooking odors and my husband's cigarette smoke. It worked in a smelly car I had a few years back.

More great money-saving household uses for vinegar

Removing Source From Car

I also have a problem with perfumes and deodorizers. When my husband had his truck detailed, it came back smelling toxic to me, but it did not bother him. The smell did not go away and some days were worse.

One day I discovered the culprit under the seat. It was an odor strip that they left in the car. After this was removed the stench/smell went away. And he now requests the detailers not use their deodorizers when he has his truck cleaned inside. At least now I know what to look for to remove the smell if they forget.

Newspaper Acts as Odor Remover

To remove odors from your car, crumple newspaper and leave in the car. Also, put a bag of plain charcoal briquets in the car to absorb orders. Do not use the kind with lighter fluid on the briquets.

Take the Next Step

  • Pick 1 or 2 of these great tips and use them today!
  • Check your car for the fragrance strips.
  • Stop struggling to get ahead financially. Subscribe to our free weekly Surviving Tough Times newsletter aimed at helping you 'live better...for less'. Each issue features great ways to help you stretch your dollars and make the most of your resources. Subscribers get a copy of Are You Heading for Debt Trouble? A Simple Checklist And What You Can Do About It for FREE!
  • Never overspend for store-bought cleaners again. Use The Dollar Stretcher's Guide to Homemade Cleaners to find frugal, effective recipes for keeping your entire house and laundry clean and fresh.

Share your thoughts about this article with the editor

Stay Connected with TDS

Little Luxuries

to the Dollar Stretcher newsletter and get a copy
of our ebook
Little Luxuries:
130 Ways to Live Better...For Less
for FREE!

Your Email:

View the TDS Privacy Policy.

Debt Book