Odor from a car's cabin is unacceptable, especially for enthusiasts even if they themselves smell quite bad .
That New car smell is something everybody cherishes. But that beautiful memory vanishes as soon as stale water or bacteria/fungus enters the cabin, ruining it for everybody sitting inside. Getting rid of the smell sadly, is not as easy as catching it. This phenomenon is at its peak during monsoons where the floor and carpets get drenched often. It is also the time when people realize they have hidden leaks in the car due to a shoddy repairs after a crash or due to some missing bushes / drain plugs that the service guys forgot to put back in . Then there are the poor 'Renault Kwid' owners - Link.
Getting into a smelly cabin during rain with A\C on is anybody's worst nightmare. It also can be used to our advantage to take out your sworn enemy. Simply offer a Lift. Car perfumes are the quick fix that we resort to. We have invested so much for those little bottles of car perfumes, hoping that at least now our car would smell good. The result? Nothing changes. Brands like Ambi Pure even feature an AD where blindfolded passengers in a car filled with trash comment that the car has a 'Romantic Aroma' and then shocked to see the dirty cabin. Very realistic . I am not saying these don't work, but fact is that the little car fresheners do not have a very long-lasting effect and the car starts to smell bad soon after. Some of us know that these car fresheners are made up of harmful chemicals that may adversely affect our health. Even bottled water left inside the cabin is said to be harmful as the cabin temperature reaches extreme temperatures during parking under the hot sun for long. So these fresheners too can react to the cabin environments and emit harmful emissions. we don't know as the contents of these are mostly unknown. The main hazard is the cheaper Chinese car perfumes which come at a fraction of the cost than the branded ones and feature many colors, fancy shapes and what not. I too was buying and using them as the prices were too tempting online
KINDLY AVOID THESE IN FUTURE AS THEY ARE FOUND TO BE CANCEROUS - Link to article Luckily, there exists a very effective, simple, cost effective and completely natural trick will help you get rid of the Pepe Lew effect of you car's cabin.
All you need is some preferably 'wooden' cloth clips, some cotton balls and your favorite bottle essential oil. If the cabin is very smelly, essential oil with citrus smell works best.
The picture is self explanatory.
Take the clips and attach a small cotton ball or a piece of cloth on which a few drops of your favorite essential oil is applied.
Clip it on to the air vent of your car(Use one each on all AC vents in case of extremely soiled cabin).
Run the blower for some time and then turn it off.
The cabin WILL smell refreshing and pleasant.
Wooden clips are preferred over plastic because when you pour the oil over the attached cotton ball or cloth, the wooden surface will also absorb some of the the oil and its lovely scent. When you turn on the fan, it gradually releases the smell, which spreads in the entire vehicle. The smell will fade after some time. However, you can keep the essential oil bottle inside with you and pour a few more drops according to your requirement. The branded car perfumes and sprays just mask the existing smell, which is again harmful to our health. The essential oil, on the other hand, helps in neutralizing the odor and removes it completely, thereby making the air inside the cabin fresh.
Essential oils can be purchased from local stores or online as per convenience. There are many to choose from like Eucalyptus, Clove, Neem, Sweet Almond.. to name a few. This is a simple trick that you can try on basically any car cabin with a working Blower / Fan inside can be done on home/office aircon also. Just try it out next time and enjoy your ride...
Excellent suggestion Joy, Even I have been a little skeptical of the contents of the car perfumes and their toxicity. I took solace in the thought that if I were to put the windows down then I'd be harming my lungs a lot more than what damage these perfumes would cause. The other problem with these or any perfumes, I've found is that I as the everyday traveller cease to realize how good my car smells, because my nose has stopped sensing the scent of the car perfume. That is also where your idea works, we could buy several different essential oils and keep switching every few days [instead of the 30 or 45 days that the car perfumes claim to be effective for] In fact, I had once at a consumer exhibition found a stall where they sold essential oils in small bottle with a wooden straw [like those room diffusers] that you could stick in your car. I had bought a couple and they worked quite well but the smell was a little too strong, and there was no way to regulate it.
Important note: If your car has a bad smell, before you try to suffocate it with a car air freshner/ perfume, first try to isolate the cause of the smell. Because if you ignore that, then in the very least, it could continue unabated, but worse, it might cause avoidable damages. Here are a few causes of bad smell in the car: 1. Food/drinks spilled by passengers: These can be mostly easily cleaned, but they can sometimes get into the most unreachable of places. User a vaccuum cleaner for dry foods or a carpet/ seat shampoo for stains from drinks.
2. Water leaking into the cabin: This like Joy mentioned could be because of shoddy repair work, or missing drain plugs that the service guys forgot to put in. This can cause bacterial/ fungal buildup in the damp areas and lead to a stench but is also harmful for your health. If you notice the floor carpets persistently wet, then get it to a service center/ car wash and get the full interior cleaning done. Also get the servicenter to fix the cause of the leak.
3. Airconditioning: The Airconditioner acts as a dehumidifier and especially on rainy days, the AC filter can dampen with the moisture it's taken out of the air. This can lead to growth of mould there. Mould can also form on the evaporatoor coil of the Air Conditioner that is deep inside the dashboard of the car. The best way to figure out if this is the cause of the bad smell in the car is that it will smell bad only when you turn on the air conditioner, typically very strong in the first few minutes of the AC running. There a numerious solutions suggested for sanitizing the AC system, that include vinegar, bleach/chlorine, Lysol spray, etc. There some Over-The-Counter anti bacterial AC treatments also available in the form of sprays/ foam. These are effective, but the mould might come back if favorable conditions exist. You must basically ensure that the AC system is dried up whenever possible- by ensuring that the AC drain pipe is not blocked, filters are changed regularly. Also, especially in the monsoon, run the car AC on fan [with the air conditioning off ] for some time- this dries up the evaporator core and filters.
4. Rats: This is a direct effect of point no 1, but can also happen if you park your cars near drainages overnight. If there is food left inside the car [spilled or otherwise], then this will attract rats. Once inside the car, they can hide pretty much anywhere and can be a pain to locate and eliminate. In some cases, the buggers get into places, get trapped and die. The decomposing dead bodies emanate a foul stink that can be unbearable, but cannot be located. Classic hideouts for rats are the airconditioning system, dashboard or the door panels. While dead vermin can raise a stink, live ones are even worse and can chew up upholstery, wires, etc, resulting in a lot of damages to the car.
Good points Joy and Kaiserketkar. I've been using Godrej Aer perfumes recently and they are quite nice. But now that you mention it, I think the natural oils way is a good way to go. I just need to figure out which ones are not too strong. I like pine and citrus scents. One could reuse an old car perfume bottle / tin for this as well. I have tried adding a few drops of cologne to an old car perfume bottle, and it works just as well. To get rid of odours, you should sun out your mats once in a while. And also use the heater to get rid of odours in the AC system. Once the car is warm, turn on the heater and let it run for 10 minutes (get out of the car if you are in warm weather). Vacuum it and also get a germi-kleen done professionally if possible to restore that fresh scent in the car. That said, anyone had any experience with 'car air purifiers?' Any good?
Roshun I was wondering what would be the affect if we refill the Amby Pur refils with the natural oils? Being an oil, it should also work in a similar manner. Little dilution may help to reduce the viscosity. For people who have already purchased a perfume, this can be used in refills.
My say on car perfumes: I tried a variety of perfumes in my old car (and I like areon ken). Then I purchased my new car a year back and I didn't use any perfume or freshener. Result: My car smells as good as new car with more than 22K on ODO and everytime my friends/relatives get amused on how great my car still has new car smell ! So the answer is not to use of perfume better the smell of car ! The above mentioned is purely my experience and may vary from person to place to preferences. No offenses please.
KPR I agree that the new car smell will last for a while, especially if you are a non-smoker, drive with the windows closed and AC on and don't park in the sun, or don't step into the car with wet shoes. However, eventually the smell does wear off, especially if the car spends a lot of time in the sun. I've tried using essential oils in old car perfume bottles and that works.