It’s funny how some smells can be so completely evocative of strong emotions and memories. For instance, the smell of fresh-cut grass conjures up recollections of spring and green, chlorophyll-dappled tube socks. What about the scent of freshly baked bread, hot out of the oven? Yum. Other smells, however, can be somewhat unpleasant, such as that time you found that mysterious tub of congealed slop tucked way in the back of your refrigerator. (Those always go straight into the trash; do not pass go, do not go in the dishwasher. Right?)
Unfortunately, sometimes your car can start to develop its own unique -- shall we say -- funk that can make your entire vehicle smell unpleasant and turn your commute into a miserable experience. If your ride has taken on a foul odor that's baked in from the unremitting heat of the Florida sun, don’t haul it off to the junk yard just yet. Here are five ways you can banish the reek and get it smelling fresh and clean once more!
Figure Out the Source of the Scent
Here’s the thing. For most of us, we spend an awful lot of time in our cars. Hitting the drive-thru is just another normal stop on your way to and from work. Of course, a steady collection of fast-food wrappers accumulating in your back seat can quickly lead to disgusting food smells, especially if they start to break down and decay. (Ew.) On the other hand, if you’re a gym rat (go you!) and your stinky duffel bag is taking up real estate in your back seat, addressing the stench may be a simple as grabbing your cleats and throwing your dirty laundry in the wash.
Grab a Garbage Bag and Get to Work
If the back of your car is looking more and more like the city dump and less like the third and fourth passenger seats, then it may be time to see about hauling some of the mess off. Grab a pair of heavy-duty gloves (because you know you don’t want to be touching that stuff with your bare hands) and a garbage bag and start throwing stuff away. Once you can see the floor of your car once more, you’ll know the job’s just about done. Feels good, doesn’t it?
Give it a Vacuum and a Shampoo
After you gather up the majority of the rubbish that’s been freeloading off you, your next step is to really get up in there and remove all remaining dirt and grime. First hit the car with a vacuum cleaner. Many people prefer shop vacs for this task, but you can also reach for a portable, handheld vacuum cleaner, too. Once you suck up the worst of the debris, next give it a good shampooing. Again, you can either rent one, or you can pick one up at most hardware stores. Make sure you thoroughly dry it off when you’re done, though, or you’ll be simply trading out one smell (rotten food and feet, anyone?) for another (mildew).
Hang an Air Freshener from the A/C
Your final assault on your car’s stank should be to conceal any lingering odors with an air freshener. While it may be tempting to hang one of those little pine-scented cardboard trees from your rearview mirror, the State of Florida frowns on anything that can distract you from your driving duties. (That said, it’s not outright illegal, so hang that sucker up if you feel so inclined!) A better idea, though, is to attach one of those air-freshener pods on your car’s air conditioning vent. That way, every time you blast the cool, you’ll also get a whiff of tropical breeze, too!
You tried everything. What then?
Well, if a few days of airing out after the stink source has been squashed hasn't solved your problem, there's a cool technology that is used in hospitals and the worst-offending cars. Ozone (yes, the stuff that is created when lightning strikes oxygen molecules) can kill stink and mildew. Ozone generator rentals don't come cheap, but the technology is fairly simple and the generators themselves are relatively inexpensive. It came from various university studies and has been used for many applications such as pest control and removal of mold from the air. That being said, do your own research on this method because you have to take precautions - we can't breathe the amount needed to de-smell a car, so don't take any risks to your health.
Nobody should have to suffer with having a malodorous car. If your friends have been giving you side-eye every time they hop into the passenger seat, and you’ve been struggling to not gag every time you get behind the wheel, it may mean that you’re long overdue to give the interior of your car a good scrub down. To avoid the pressing shame of judgement from your peers when driving here in South Florida, then hopefully these four tips can help get you back on the road – without needing to affix a clothespin to your nose!
Car problems are real - but most of them come from paperwork (thankfully). Contact your local Pompano Beach auto tag agency at (954)848-4808 today!
Photo credit: Alex Bargain