How to Remove Bad Smells from Your Car: The Source and Cause

There are a number of reasons why your car could develop bad smelling odours. Maybe the bad smells have been there since before you purchased your car? The big question is: How to remove bad odours from your car successfully? What better way to keep a hold of that new car smell than with a car air freshener. The issue is air fresheners only mask the smell. Refrain from using car air fresheners as much as possible. Instead of constantly changing your car air fresher, why not invest in a odour neutraliser.

Luckily PowAir odour neutraliser products eliminate odour molecules from the air successfully and efficiently. PowAir is the perfect car odour eliminator for you! If you have a car that has got bad odours then you will know how much of a distraction it can be.

Where are these bad car odours coming from?

Often when you buy a second hand car they can come with very unpleasant aromas. These bad car odours can come from a number of different sources, including:

  • Spilt Drink/Food: It’s easy to be careless with food and drink in the car. Spilt food and drink can go unnoticed and left to go off. These smells can be accelerated when it is a hot day.
  • Dogs/Pet Odours contaminated in car.
  • Sick: Certain children and adults can suffer from severe car sickness. Unfortunately can result in a person uncontrollably being sick in the car. It is almost impossible to clean all this up, and inevitable sick can become soaked into the car upholstery. If this happens then the smell of the car can become very unpleasant. Overtime, this smell will worsen. This is more likely to occur on a hot day.
  • Transferring bad smelling matter from your shoes: A walk in the woods may mean you have tread through some unpleasant matter. This can go unnoticed until it enters the car. Once recognised, this odour can linger for weeks unless treated.
  • Dead animals: Animals can sometimes get into the car and die. The longer this is left, the stronger the odour will become.
powair odour neutraliser - car odour eliminator - powair block

A smelly car is not good for a number of reasons. One reason in particular is that it may provide distractions to your driving. Also the smell of your car can heavily effect the resale value of your car.

How to Remove Bad Odours from Cars: What’s causing the Bad Smells?

Humans detect aromas through millions of cells in the naval cavity called olfactory epithelium. The receptors contained in the olfactory epithelium connect with various airborne chemicals and fire neurons that communicate the smell being detected to the brain. Different sections of the olfactory epithelium are designed to pick up different odours, and it’s the pattern of the receptors that are triggered that determines how the brain interprets the smell.

As humans and animals evolved, the olfactory epithelium was primarily used to warn of high concentrations of bacteria. Therefore the by-products that these bacteria produce are interpreted as repulsive to human smell. These gases can include amines (the ammonia smell of urine), hydrogen sulphide (rotten eggs), butyric acid (vomit, rotten milk), putrescine and cadaverine (rotting flesh).

Other odours that often contaminate your vehicle, such as fuel, mildew, skunk and smoke are not the direct by-products of bacteria, but as they permeate the whole vehicle they can be incredibly hard to remove.

How to Remove Bad Odours from Cars: Finding the Source of the Bad Car Smell

This may sound obvious but it’s a great thing to consider. When you sense an unpleasant odour, find the source, The sooner the source of the smell is found, the easier it will be too neutralise. There are many ways an odour can be neutralised both effectively and safely. Follow these steps to identify the cause of the bad odour:

  • Look for the obvious: Often the most common source of bad odours in the car is the obvious, spilt food and drink or something transferred from someone’s shoes. You should begin by checking the whole vehicle for any obvious signs.
  • Do some detective work: If you can smell damp and mildew then there is more than likely water getting in to the vehicle somewhere. Check that no water is getting in through the seals by the windows, or you may have a leaky floor board. Check the floors and the upholstery by the windows for any dampness.
  • If the source of the odour is still unknown check all nooks and crannies, inside glove compartments, in the boot, underneath the feet mats.
  • As your air conditioning acts as a dehumidifier the filter can dampen through condensation and as such become mouldy and blowing bad odours into the car. By selecting return air on the AC less moisture enters the system, decreasing the possibility of smelly mould. The filter can be replaced, but is not a simple job, so if you need to do this then consult a professionally.
  • Check the engine and exhaust system: These are not usually the problem but if you the odours smell of fuel then this is where you need to be checking.
  • Look under the car and around the tyres: If you still haven’t found the source of the bad odours then it could be a dead animal stuck underneath the car.
  • Inspect the front grill: Again a bird or animal could have got stuck in here.
Once the source has been identified, the appropriate action can be taken to clean the infected area.

How to Remove Bad Odours from Cars: The Professional Solution

The infected area obviously needs to be cleaned. However sometimes cleaning the area effectively is very hard to achieve, Additionally, it is common for odourous molecules to remain engrained into the car. What’s more, is that you may even struggle to find the source of the odour. An example of this is if you regularly have pets or smoke in your car.

Fortunately, product ranges, such as PowAir, don’t mask odours. In fact they completely eliminate odour molecules with a natural essential oil blend. These natural essential oils are dispersed through natural evaporation. Upon coming into contact with the odourous molecules, they physically bind to them to render them null and inert. PowAir products, such as our Block and Gels, act as constant car odour eliminators. , doubling as effective car air fresheners.

how to remove odours from car - new car smell - car air freshner

So if you have cleaned the area and are still suffering from the smell this product is the solution for you.


The 2 most popular products amongst car users are the PowAir Block and the PowAir Spray. The PowAir Block is great for constant neutralisation when the source of the bad odour is always present. Simply open the lid and leave the block exposed somewhere in the car to provide all round freshness. PowAir Block acts as a constant car odour eliminator, saving you time when it comes to regularly cleaning your vehicle. If your odour problem is more periodic, PowAir spray is the product to use! One pump of the spray will fill your car with a fresh aroma. With this spray comes the comfort of knowing odours are being eliminated.

How to Remove Bad Odours from Cars: The Home Remedy Solution

Professional car odour eliminators are the most effective. However, some people do not want to spend on a professional solution. If you are this person there are home remedies that can help the situation.Despite this being a cheaper alternative, they are not recommended for any strong odour problem.


Vinegar: You can pour vinegar into a cup and leave it over night, or as long as possible, in an attempt to absorb the odours.


Baking Powder: Sprinkle baking powder throughout the car and leave overnight. In the morning hoover the entire car.


PowAir | Permanently Eliminate Bad Odours