Practical advice to help you bust that bad odour!

We all spend a lot of time in our cars and if your car smells, it’s an unpleasant experience for you and your passengers. There are a lot of things you can do to improve this smell, starting with practicing good hygiene and locating the source of any lingering malodour. Start with the easy options first, then work your way up to finding any hard-to-locate odours last

Clean your car.

Before doing anything – read the car’s manual for warnings and advice on which cleaning products are safe to use in your car. If you’re in any doubt, talk to your local dealer for more advice based on your car.

  1. Clear everything out of the car and removing all rubbish. Check under the seats and remove all rotting food, wrappers and coins.
  2. Check back pockets and remove all items. Be careful if you have children as there may be sticky sweets or unidentified globules of food stuck within the pocket.
  3. If you have child seats in the car, check the pull-out drink containers and under the seat cover as well. Food and drink can be lodged in any of these places without you realising. Take the seats right out of the car for cleaning.
  4. Don’t forget to clean the boot of the car as well.
  5. Wipe the car surfaces. Use a soft cleaning cloth to wipe every plastic, glass, and metallic surface inside the car. If you want to use anything other than warm water, mild detergent will be safe for most surfaces, and glass cleaner for glass. For leather seats, use an appropriate leather cleaner. You can also get suitable interior car cleaners.
  6. Remove from the glove box all items, then wipe.
  7. Wipe clean any rubber floor mats. If you have carpet mats, use a soft but firm brush to loosen dirt and debris before vacuuming.
  8. Vacuum the carpet and the seats to remove excess dirt. Place the vacuum nozzle into all seats, open cushions up as much as you can to release the dirt from inside the cracks.
  9. You can use a carpet deodoriser on the carpet to freshen it. After vacuuming, you might like to consider cleaning the floors using an appropriate interior car shampoo/enzymatic odour remover and an extracting machine. Using an extracting machine will ensure that you get up as much dirt as possible.
  10. Wipe the car upholstery and carpet to release the dirt trapped inside the fabric folds. Use a suitable car shampoo or enzymatic odour remover such as Zybax Ultra and use a clean sponge for wiping.
  11. Once the car has been cleaned and dried, check for odours. If you can still detect an odour at this point, it’s time to target the possible causes and see if you can apply direct solutions to tackle precise problems.

Top Tips

  • Be careful to not apply too much water, as this will take days to dry, especially in colder conditions and water that doesn’t dry will leave a musty smell in the car,
  • Try to get an extraction machine that has a clear nozzle. This will allow you to see the water that is being extracted and as soon as the water turns clear you know it is clean.

Food, Garden Waste and other Organic Matter

The best method for treating this is to remove the offending matter and to clean the patch left behind. Then apply an enzyme or bacteria digester such as Zybax Ultra. Follow the instructions on the packaging.

Cigarette smoke

You can get rid of the smell by leaving a bowl of vinegar near the ashtray of the car and another in the back seat for just 30 minutes. The vinegar absorbs the odour.

Or, you can use and odour eliminator such as Zybax Air or Febreze®.)

Vomit (pet or human):

See ‘Removing faeces (poo) and vomit from Carpets


See ‘Removing Urine from Carpets


See ‘Removing spilt milk from carpets

Top Tips

  • When travelling with pets, ensure that they are adequately cared for so that there aren’t little messes.
    Cats can be carried in waterproof containers that will trap urine in the container rather than on the
    upholstery. Dogs should be toileted before entering the car and given regular toilet stops if you’re on a long trip.
  • Always have additional floor protection – removing dog faeces from a rubber mat is easier than removing it from carpet. Place towels or throws on the areas where children sit. You know they’re going to spill things, so cover it up first!
  • Plan for a weekly interior clean out. It’ll be much faster when done regularly and odours won’t have much of a chance to build up.

These solutions are tried and tested but, like all things, some situations are beyond normal. If trouble persists or they don’t work, visit our friends at Zybax, for specialised solutions guaranteed to work.

Order your Zybax Professional Quick Start Kit now

Containing everything you need to start dealing with an immediate odour problem now
  • 4 bottles of 1 litre Zybax Ultra - makes up to 100 litres
  • Our purpose-designed 1.5 Litre pump spray
  • 1 750ml bottle of Zybax Air
  • 2 Zybax trigger applicators
  • Zybax User Guide