Do you have a smelly car?
What’s that smell? How many people think that, but don’t actually say it. ''I’ve just bought a smelly car and its smells of something I can’t quite describe. Is it the smell of somebody’s dog? Is it the smell of smoke? Maybe something has been spilt in the car?''
"Milk, food... vomit or even something worse?"
I don’t know, but it’s not too bad now I’m driving with the air circulating. Hopefully it just goes away on its own.
It’s that smell again, and it’s the next day, you're back in the car, and you think you're getting used to it now, "I’m actually getting used to this disgusting smell".
"Maybe I can spray something in there? Something that takes the smell away? Maybe I could buy something online? Like a gadget or something that just extract the smell makes it go away?"
"Maybe the smell has come from something the previous owner has done? Or did it spill out of a bag that I was taking down to the damp. What ever it is you can’t stand it any more. You’ve got to pick some friends and up from the airport. What will they think? It doesn’t make me feel very good at all. I’ll get the feeling of being dirty, like a scuzzy old smoker. I’ve just bought the car, so maybe I could take it back to the dealer?"
What can be done about a smelly car?
Removing odour from cars is sometimes very simple, if somebody’s been smoking in the car for just one or two cigarettes, then yes even a spray may work. But if somebody’s been smoking 10 or 15 cigarettes a day in this car and driven it 20 to 40,000 miles, then that is something completely different. We at New Again have been removing smells from cars for over 30 years and I can tell you, some I’ve been easy and some have been extremely difficult. And believe me, we have had pretty much everything you can think of. The standard procedure is to clean all surfaces with a powerful deodorant and then use a special machine in the vehicle that emits ozone, this procedure can often do the job. Sometimes doing the whole procedure twice using two different deodorizing liquids and two different kinds of fogging machines will be required to do the job.
We have two UVL Foggers, an ozone machine, and two Thermo-foggers. We keep the world's most powerful deodorant liquid as well as around 50 to 60 different targeting, deodorizing liquids for pretty much all the different odours you can think of and more. From enzymes to pairing products. We’ve even done the courses. I bet you didn’t know there was a deodorizing course.
DIY advice for removing car odours
So here's some basic advice for those people who are reading this but are miles away from us in Chelmsford, Essex. Mainly you have to find the source of the problem and remove it, that may be easy if something has been spilt into the boot carpet. Sometimes you can just take the carpet out to give that a good clean, I would usually recommend using the biological washing machine liquid. Don’t forget to put your rubber gloves on. While the carpet is out of the car, see if the smell starts to fade away. Once you have cleaned the boot area, you can check your carpet and see if the smell is gone from that before you put it back.
For the smell of smoke, you’ve got three main things that cause the difficulty. Firstly is the smoke itself. We’ve all been in a building where people have been smoking and then got the smell on ourselves, the smoke particles get everywhere, permeating your clothes. Then you’ve got the smell of the tar, that’s the yellowy stuff that gets stuck to the headlining on the sun visor and glass. And then you’ve got the ash like a dust, it gets everywhere, not just on surfaces, it can fall down all the cracks. So start by giving your seats and carpets a good bash whilst holding a vacuum in the other hand. Then, if you can get into the very gaps where the ash might have gone, you'll probably need a brush. Try to imagine if somebody had ash all over the place, where would it be? A lot of people try to flick it out of the window, and then it comes back in all over the back seat and on the parcel shelf. So give this area a very good vacuum and a very good bash. Then get yourself a bucket of hot water, not too hot and a microfibre cloth, a soft brush can work quite well (believe it or not a clean –dust pan brush will work quite well as it’s soft) then you want some biological washing liquid in a bucket. Not the powder, as when this dries it goes back to powder and makes a mess. Then methodically work your way around the whole car cleaning all the services except for vulnerable areas like the electronics and switches and stuff, just wipe these carefully with a damp microfibre cloth that has been in your liquid and wrung carefully.
Clean the glass, the headlining, the sun visors the seats, the carpets, pretty much everything. Keep dipping your cloth into the bucket and then wringing it out onto the floor, so your bucket stays clean. Then, when you’re done, change your water and do it all again. Then one more time with just hot water to Effectively rinse the surfaces. Next, get a great big bath towel and give the entire car a real good rub dry, like you were drying of a wet dog. It won’t take as long as you think, maybe half an hour each time. Let it all dry, then try it, you might find you’ve done the trick. If you haven’t, and you can still smell something in the next few days, you need a 19-year-old lady (women have a better sense of smell, especially young women) to have a good smell around the car and see if she can smell exactly where the smell might be coming from. It might just be there is a source still in that car. Some kind of spillage from the past. This will need to be extracted, and it might be quite difficult to do, but you can have a go with a wet vac still following the same basic principles.
There are a few other things that you can do like a change of pollen filter might help get the air through the car better. Make sure you’re using a biological liquid. Just remember, don’t get the car too wet, you're only cleaning the surfaces.
by Danny Argent
technical writer and customer education.
Here are some more of our latest #OdourRemoval blogs
The Honest Guide to Removing Smells from Your Car
There's loads of information on the web about removing bad odours from your car but there is a deficit in useful advice which will tell you just how tricky it can be to remove bad smells.Read Article
Car Smell Removal FAQ
This 'Frequently Asked Questions' page should answer most of your questions and clear up some of the old wives' tales about odour removal.Read Article
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