How do I make my car smell nice?
April 9, 2005 1:17 PM   Subscribe

How can I make the interior of my car smell nice? I'd like to stay away from the cheapo tree fragrance variety. Is there any pleasant (even subtle) fragrance providers out there?
posted by jeremias to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Those pine-trees are n-a-s-t-y-ass smelly, aren't they? I don't have a car, but tend to use little cloth bags of pleasant spices. They do a great job on freshening areas that smell of smoke, cat, and dirty laundry. Having to replace them is no big deal - they last a few weeks to months depending on the mix.
posted by whatzit at 1:38 PM on April 9, 2005

After I use up a pillar candle, I put the hollowed-out shell underneath my carseat. It is a lot higher quality than anything you can buy that is actually designed for a car, and it is subtle enough that it wont be overpowering.
posted by gatorae at 1:47 PM on April 9, 2005

What I do is just keep a spray bottle of Febreeze underneath my driver's seat and spray the chairs every now and then. Works fairly well.
posted by itchie at 2:02 PM on April 9, 2005

Best answer: Actually, it's really easy to make your car smell nice... without resorting to using things to rescent it.

There's a couple of steps. First, CLEAN it. If there's a lot of staining in the seats, get it shampooed at a detailing place. To make it smell good without resorting to chemicals, you're going to have to vacuum it regularly; get used to it.

Second, go to your local wal-mart type store and get two things: A can of citrus de-scenting spray (Lemon or orange-based stuff), and a bag of activated charcoal. After your seats and carpets are as clean as you can get them, spray a light dusting of the citrus on the seats and carpet. DO NOT spray it on anything vinyl or plastic; citrus will stain and etch the plastic. Let the car air out.

Third, vacuum regularly. I can not streess how, if you want to keep your car smelling decently without the use of toxic, stinky chemicals, you have to clean it regularly. If you spill something on the carpet, use carpet cleaners to get it out just as you would the carpet in your home.

Finish off your detailing by spraying a small amount of endust or other NON-WAXING furniture polish ... I like the lemon scent ... and rubbing down all of the plastic surfaces. This removes the dust and scuzz, which is also smelly, and provides a disincentive for it to stick again, as well as a degree of UV protection. Don't use armor-all. Armor-all products suck and will shine up your dashboard to a nice bright shiny blinding shine.

If you're dealing with a moldy smell inside the car that doesn't go away after that, you're dealing with a mold or other scuzz infestation in your air ducts due to condensation and liquid coming in through the intakes.
Get some lysol, turn the car on enough that the fan is running, open the hood, OPEN THE WINDOWS, turn the fans on their highest settings and the temperature selector all the way to 'cool', and spray lysol into the air intake. You'll need a good amount. Then do the same with heat. (They use a different register.) Then turn it back to cool and leave the fan on high until you can no longer smell lysol coming from the air ducts. When you get in the car the first time, let all the windows down and drive with the heat blowing full blast for a while so that all the lysol on the heating elements burns off without capturing the toxic fumes in your car. ;)

If you have leather, I reccomend cleaning with Lexol regularly. Again, DO NOT use armor-all. Armor-all is bad.
posted by SpecialK at 2:09 PM on April 9, 2005

Oh yeah. In step 2, place the activated charcoal (they sell special de-scenting bags) in the back of your car in the sun. It'll suck any other odors that linger out of the air, but it has to be somewhere where air is circulating around it, and it's good to put it in the sun as well.
posted by SpecialK at 2:11 PM on April 9, 2005

You can leave a fabric softener sheet in the car overnight.
posted by stevil at 2:11 PM on April 9, 2005

Oh yeah, and if you have leather, don't spray the citrus stuff on the leather. I know, duh, but ... *shrug*.

(Why do I know so much about this? I'm allergic to almost every perfume, and I'm anal-retentive about my cars.)
posted by SpecialK at 2:12 PM on April 9, 2005

The Body Shop sells car diffusers, it's a great product, you buy the diffuser which comes with 10 pads, you buy a home fragrance oil (they have many to choose from, you can get fruity ones, fresh scents, vanilla, etc, there's something for everyone, but you can also use any aromatherapy oils) put about 4-5 drops of oil on the pad, slip it into the diffuser and put it into an outlet or cigarette lighter for 10-30 minutes, after awhile you car smells great and the scent lingers for a few days, the cool thing about this is you can change your scent if you're sick of the one you're using and the pad can be used up until it gets to be a yellow colour, then you toss it. You can buy re-fill pads once you run out. I've gotten all my friends hooked on this product! check out The Body Shop website
posted by bluehermit at 3:32 PM on April 9, 2005

What SpecialK says, but on vinyl, use no other finish than Vinylex. Period.
posted by Kwantsar at 3:38 PM on April 9, 2005

If your a.c. smells funky turn the dial to recirculate, locate the intake vents and turn on high. Then spray some lysol or equivalent into the vents. Worked wonders for me. Got rid of the dirty sock smell.
posted by vronsky at 3:42 PM on April 9, 2005

Clean your car first. If you're into more natural smells, I like pine needles/branches, dried sage, cedar chips, or eucalyptus. Any of these put in/on something sturdy and then placed in a car window will make your car smell outdoorsy and not all chemical-y.
posted by jessamyn at 3:59 PM on April 9, 2005

If you think that the source of the smell is from the floors and upholstery rather than the ventilation system, Febreeze is worth a try. It contains enzymes that digest the odorant molecules, along with a very light fragrance. It'll get to the root of the problem rather than just covering up the smell. Since I got a dog (about six months ago) it's been a life-saver, in the car and in the house.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:20 PM on April 9, 2005

A pretty flower that smells nice, like lavender. Or an open container of tapioca pudding, refreshed every day.

I like tapioca pudding.
posted by user92371 at 9:04 PM on April 9, 2005

Another vote for the surprising wonders of fabric softener sheets on this score, once the car's been cleaned.
posted by scody at 9:44 PM on April 9, 2005

Fill the ashtrays with whole cloves (I think I read this tip in the Tightwad Gazette).
posted by Melinika at 6:21 AM on April 10, 2005

incense cones work nicely, and don't make as much of a mess as sticks. i like nag champa.
posted by littlegirlblue at 12:13 PM on April 10, 2005

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