5 Tips for Smelly Used Cars

5 Tips for Smelly Used Cars

Does your “new” car have a unique smell you just can’t place? The used car smell is common, and it can be offensive.

Don’t fret. Here are 5 tips for reclaiming your new ride as your own.


Detailing Smelly Used Car

1. Detailing

Always start out with a good deep clean. Detailing your used car is a great way to bond with your new vehicle.

Sprinkle the carpet and fabric upholstery with baking soda. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes, but the longer it sits the better.

Vacuum the carpet and upholstery. Watch for any suspect stains that might need extra attention. Get in all the nooks and crannies.

Clean the rest of the interior (dash, doors, etc.) with an interior car cleaner. You can also use a mix of white vinegar and water, just be careful not to get any vinegar on your car’s paint. White vinegar is a great deodorant.

Clean all the glass as well. You want to remove as many smelly culprits as possible.


Steam Clean Used Auto Odors

2. Steam Cleaning

You can take your interior detailing a step further with a steam cleaner. This can help remove suspect spots and stains that could be causing funky smells.

You might even want to rent an industrial steam cleaner to get the best deep-down clean.


 Check Cabin Filter for Weird Smell

3. Cabin Air Filter

If you didn’t buy your used car from a dealer (and sometimes even if you did), try changing your cabin air filter.

It can get clogged up and dirty. It can even absorb bad odors like cigarette smoke.

Look at the car manual to find where your cabin air filter is located. (Some older car models don’t have a separate cabin air filter.)


Use Fabric Spray to Cover Scents

4. Fabric Deodorizer

It’s a common practice to spray all cloth surfaces with a fabric deodorizer. These products work at covering surface odors, and they can give your car a temporary fresh scent.

If any previous owners let their furry friends ride along, there could definitely be some pet smells stinking up your vehicle.


Effectively Remove Any Odor with Dead Scent

5. Dead Scent Automotive Odor Eliminator

When it comes to used cars, you just never know what past odors you could be dealing with. You could have a mix of old cigarette smoke, mildew, trash, pets, body odor, perfumes and colognes, air fresheners, and who knows what else.

All these smells, good and bad, can linger in the carpet and upholstery and never really leave.

You can easily treat your car with Dead Scent overnight for a fresh-smelling car in the morning.

What is Dead Scent? It’s a deodorizing treatment that cleans the air and carpets and fabrics. It uses a chlorine dioxide process that is able to trade electrons with odor molecules rendering them odorless.

It’s actually really cool. You make sure all your windows are rolled up. Fill the provided tray with warm water. Place the treatment packet in the water, and close all the doors.

The treatment packet is activated by the water and releases the chlorine dioxide gas. The gas is able to penetrate all the hard-to-reach areas in your car. It even travels into the carpet and fabrics, eliminating all odors.

After the treatment is done, you need to air out your vehicle. Then, you can enjoy the clean, crisp, fresh air.

The byproduct of chlorine dioxide is refined salt, so it’s safe for humans of all ages and animals, too.

It can get rid of the most stubborn odors. And even if your used car is just a bit stale smelling, you could benefit from a Dead Scent treatment.

It’s like starting fresh, without any odors left behind by previous owners.



It can be difficult to pinpoint the source of funky smells when you buy a used car. After giving your vehicle a good cleaning, treat it with Dead Scent. You won’t regret it.