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Getting Rid of Perfume Smell in My Car

deodourise your car

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If you have recently bought a pre-owened vehicle, one of the first things you would notice is the vehicle’s distinct odor. New cars have this shiny, unspoiled, just-unwrapped smell to them, unlike second-hand cars. The smell of your second hand car may not be altogether unpleasant, as some car owners are very particular about the air fresheners that they use. But getting rid of perfume smells, which can irritate some individuals can be tricky.

However, if you are allergic to perfumes, car fresheners, and other strong artificial odors, you might want to deodorize your car first before taking it out on its first joy ride. Some people are so sensitive to these smells that they end up getting hives or irritated throats or bad headaches after spending just a few minutes inside the vehicle. You might not be able to fully enjoy your new acquisition if you keep getting annoyed by the strong scent permeating the interior.

Simple steps to deodorize your car

Getting rid of  perfume smell inside your vehicle is actually pretty easy. While the odors may have already soaked into the very material of the car, you can still do something to significantly reduce the old smell and replace it with a car freshener or perfume of your choice. Or you can simply just do away with artificial odor products altogether.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Air out the vehicle. If you have recently bought your car and are conscious of how it smells, it is a bad idea to take it out on a long drive immediately. Not only do you have to get used to the feel of the car, you also need to eliminate the odor that has been bothering you since day one. Park your car somewhere clean and dry and leave the windows rolled down, halfway though.
  • Clean out the interior. There might be bits of food or trash that has been left inside the nooks and crannies of your new vehicle. Check the glove box and beneath the seats to see if other things are also causing the annoying odor.
  • Put a few pieces of charcoal briquette in a shallow pan and leave them inside your car for a day or two. Activated charcoal can pick up a lot of strong odors, leaving you with a fresh-smelling interior.
  • Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on the car seats and upholstery. Leave them for a few hours. Then proceed to vacuum everything up.
  • Shampoo, steam, and condition the upholstery. If the perfume has been in constant use throughout the car’s lifespan, the odor molecules would have been buried deep into the fabric. You need to wash everything out and clean them thoroughly to eliminate the odor completely. If you are not satisfied with your own work, consult a professional detailer about how else to get rid of the smell.
  • Pick out an odor eliminating product and let it sit inside your car for a couple of hours before driving out. Only when you have completely eliminated all traces of the former perfume can you use your own brand of car freshener. Smells mixing together in such a small space can really produce disturbing results.

4 Responses to “Getting Rid of Perfume Smell in My Car”

  1. Jim Keeley says:

    Charcoal briquettes are NOT activated charcoal and do nothing. They do not soak up smell. And even using activated charcoal it has to have air flow through it to clean it. It’s a common misconception.

  2. Liberty Baldovino says:

    Hi Jim,

    Thanks for your input. We would love to know more about this topic because we have not found a scholarly article that negates the ability of charcoal to eliminate odors. We’ll be very thankful if you can show us such an article. We can use that information in the future.

  3. Sue Habeck says:

    I have found it depends on what the fragrance is from…cologne/perfume? Detailing shampoos? or air fresheners. For the slightest exposures like if someone wearing perfume rode in your car once, then wiping down the surfaces, airing it out, using baking soda and zeolite crystals seem to work. I have found it IMPOSSIBLE to get the air freshener smells out of vehicles no matter what we tried short of stripping it down to the metal. I can still detect them after multiple fragrance-free shampooing and ozoning. For an RV that had an old “vanilla” tree-shaped air freshener in it, we ripped out all the carpet and scrubbed everything. Nope. We had someone else live in the RV fragrance free for 5 years and it was still too strong for me so we sold it! I wish people understood how toxic that stuff is and the links to asthma in kids, and other health problems. Aside from the fact that they may mask other issues like mold that is best taken care of ASAP.

  4. Liberty Baldovino says:

    Thanks for sharing, Sue.


September 2013
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