Car Odor Removal: How to Remove the Smell from Seats

Lead Image
  • 2-6 hours
  • Beginner
  • 10-75
What You'll Need
White wine vinegar
Essential oil
Hot water
Empty spray bottles
Rubber gloves
Breathing mask
Paper towel
Air freshener
Replacement air filter

If your vehicle's seats have recently been plagued by a bad smell, you're probably looking for a good method of car odor removal. Fortunately, offensive odors can be removed from your car seats in a simple and timely fashion.

Step 1 - Mix Your Homemade Cleaning Solution

Before proceeding with the car odor removal process, you will need to produce a homemade cleaning solution. To do this, combine 1 cup of white wine vinegar with 5 to 10 drops of essential oil. Pour the mixture into an empty spray bottle then shake the bottle until your cleaning solution has taken shape. If the stench you are trying to remove comes from vomit, produce a cleaning solution of 1/4 cup of ammonia with 1 cup of hot water. While you don't necessarily need to use boiling water for this solution, the water should still be very hot. Once your cleaning solution is fully formed, you'll be ready to begin the car odor removal process.

Step 2 - Apply Your Cleaning Solution

Having produced your homemade cleaning solution, you're ready to rid your vehicle of any offensive odors. Before applying your cleaner, you may want to don a pair of protective rubber gloves, particularly if the unsavory smell is a result of vomit, pet urine or fecal matter. If you find the smell to be overpowering, you may want to wear a paper breathing mask as well. After donning your protective gear, use your spray bottle to vigorously apply your cleaning solution to your car seats, then allow it to sit for several minutes. Once your homemade cleaning solution has had ample time to set in, fill another empty spray bottle with warm water and proceed to rinse off your solution. Next, use a sponge, washcloth or paper towel to dry the seats.

If any lingering odors remain, reapply your cleaning solution. In some cases, you may need to apply your solution up to 5 times before successfully completing the car odor removal process.

Step 3 - Keep Your Car Smelling Nice

To ensure that your car continues smelling nice, keep an air freshener in your vehicle for 1 or 2 weeks after carrying out the odor removal process. Furthermore, it is recommended that you leave your car windows open whenever possible during that time period. These additional measures will make sure that every last trace of offensive odor is removed from your vehicle.

If you suspect the offensive odor emanated from your car's air conditioning vents, you may want to consider having the car's air filter changed. If you make frequent use of your vehicle's heating and cooling system, you should have the filter changed every time you take the car in for an oil change--in other words, every 3,000 miles. Also, make a point of never running your car's AC at its highest setting unless absolutely necessary, as this tends to encourage the growth of odor-causing mold and mildew.