Cars are a breeding ground for human filth. We eat in them, we drink in them, we tread dirt from the outside world into them and we transport our children in them – all of which can lead to unpleasant smells taking root in your upholstery.
However, an unpleasant aroma in your car’s interior isn’t the end of the world because there are plenty of products on the market that can remove the odours and leave your car smelling as fresh as it did when it rolled off the production line.
Treating your cabin with an odour remover is particularly important if you’re trying to sell or wondering ‘is it time to value my car?’. Buyers will be instantly put off by the faint whiff of baby sick or wet dog – and even if you’ve shampooed and wet vacuumed your car after your mishap, the stench can persist for months.
Odour eliminators work by breaking down the bacteria that cause foul smells using a cocktail of chemicals. Below, we’ve rounded up the best options on the market – and it’s a surprisingly affordable way of freshening up your car. The cheapest options are priced from less than £10.
Autoglym Odour Eliminator – RRP £9.18
Autoglym has been making car cleaning products for decades now, so it’s a reliable place to start if you’re new to the detailing scene. This spray is designed to eliminate odours rather than just cover them up – and the company says it’s ideal for cutting through cigarette smoke, pet smells and spilt food and drink. The bottle is rectangular, too, which means it won’t rattle around in your boot.
ValetPRO Enzyme Odour Eater – RRP £8.95
ValetPRO is a little less well-known as a brand, but its products are good enough to demand your attention. Like the Autoglym spray above, it’s designed to eliminate smells at its source. It claims to be effective on all organic material, too, including mould and cigarette residue. The price above is for the 500ml ready-to-use spray bottle but, if you have an incredibly smelly car, you can also buy a concentrated five-litre container that you dilute with water at a 5:1 ratio.
AirVidox Car Odour Remover – RRP £19.95
Does your car smell like it’s been parked at the bottom of a swamp for the past year? You need AirVidox. It’s an aggressive product that will nuke any smell, microbe or flea present in your car. It comes in two parts – mix them together and leave the concoction in your car’s interior for four hours. Then, simply remove the container from your car, rinse it under an outside tap to neutralise the chemical (it’s strong stuff and your neighbours will complain if you don’t) and enjoy your fresh-smelling car.
Meguiar’s Carpet & Fabric Re-Fresher Odour Eliminator – RRP £12.99
Meguiar’s is another well-known brand in the car cleaning scene. Its fabric refresher is definitely worth your attention, even if it isn’t as powerful as some of the other options on this list. The key selling point for this product is that it leaves behind a gentle aroma of ‘new car smell.’ The only fault is that the scent doesn’t last very long, so you’ll need to spray it on your cabin often.
Turtle Wax Odor-X Whole Car Blast – RRP £9.99
Turtle Wax focuses on the more affordable end of the car cleaning market – and its Odor-X Whole Car Blast is a very cost-effective solution for removing smells. It works like an air freshener bomb. Simply press down on the nozzle until it locks, place it in a cupholder and close all your car’s doors. After 15 minutes, the chemical will have worked its way through your car interior and neutralised any bad smells, leaving behind a pleasant scent that Turtle Wax says will last for 30 days.