A woman sneezing while driving a car and wondering, "Why Does My Car Stink?

3 Steps to Getting Wet Smells Out of Your Car

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If you’ve just found yourself thinking ‘Eeek, why does my car stink?!‘ this article is for you. Mildew and other muck in cars are stinky topics and should not be left to fester. This isn’t the only reason knowing how to get the wet smell out of your car is an absolute must.

Think about it; not only is that damp smell in your car making you cringe every time you enter it, it might actually be affecting your entire social life. You could be unconsciously burdened by the worry your wet dank car smell is rubbing onto you (unfortunately that’s justified). You may even start avoiding friend meetups and get togethers so as not to be identified as the owner of the odour.

Not only will getting the wet smell out of your car give you a new lease on driving and social life, it will keep your car in better condition too. To make life easier, we’ll tell you exactly how to banish that stink out of your car. And fast!

Why does my car stink and how can I fix it?

Let’s face it, spending days or weeks wondering way too much about ‘why does my car stink’ sounds like an unhealthy space to inhabit. And that’s exactly what it could be. Mildew and mould both produce spores that can cause asthma and allergic reactions when inhaled or touched.

Most of us drive daily. If you’re constantly coming into contact with an obnoxious smelly patch on your car seat or breathing in rank carpet smells for an extended period each day it could be harming your health.

So grab the rubber gloves, put on some daggy clothes and start by spring cleaning your car. Once it’s clean, follow these three easy steps to get rid of the wet smell in your car.

change your cabin to get that wet smell out your car

1. Get rid of that car AC mildew smell

Our cars hurtle along the roads at great speeds. As it races along it’s knocking into all sorts of air pollution. The air filtering in gets lodged at great velocity, containing chemicals, mould spores and pollen to dust and gravel.

What’s stopping all these stinkers from getting out of your aircon and into the car? The answer lies in a pleated multi-fiber filter called a cabin air filter. It regulates the air in your HVAC (or heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system.

Regular filter replacement is key

The cabin air filter sort of looks like a waffle with lines along it, with these grids trapping all sorts of air pollutants so they don’t enter your car cabin. But after a while the filter gets saturated. The trapped pollutants can start to smell pretty bad. Essentially you’re circulating these foul odours each time you switch on your fan or open the air vents.

The moral of the story? When you’re working on getting the wet smell out of your car this is a great place to start. Check your car manual. It will tell you what intervals to change your cabin air filter and also how to do it.

if you wonder 'why does my car stink' your air vents might be dirty

2. Get that wet smell out your car’s air vents too

Another top contender that could be causing the wet smell in your car could be the air vents themselves. For really bad funk, changing the cabin air filter may not be enough. Also if you’ve gone through the work of replacing the cabin air filter why not do the vents anyways.

Because if you’ve seriously been wondering ‘why does my car stink?’ then your air vents could be taking the cake.

We’d recommend purchasing an air vent cleaner that can destroy bacteria and mould. Generally these come with a tiny hose that connects to the nozzle. Spray all the vents including intake ones (usually in the footwell) and the ones outside under the grill at the bottom of your windscreen.

Be sure to have your car switched off when doing the full application. Afterwards you can switch your car on, put your AC on full and also put the recirculation on.

use baking soda to get the wet smell out your car seats

3. Get that wet smell out your car seats and carpets

We’re sure it won’t surprise you when we say both of these areas can be a little trickier to conquer clean. Don’t despair! There are ways…

Car seats

Car seats are often the seat of the problem, so to speak. Fabric upholstery can easily harbour mildew and mould, but so can old leather if left damp. How you clean your car seats depends on the material they’re covered in. Read our guide on how to clean car seats to find out which way matches your seats.

If the wet smell in your car seats persists even after they’re clean then it’s time to move on to the baking soda step. Baking soda is a wonder. It absorbs moisture as well as odours and because it’s a baking ingredient is also non-toxic.

Put your car seats back and liberally sprinkle baking soda evenly across them. Ideally you’ll want to let the baking soda sit overnight for maximum absorption. The next day you simply need to vacuum off the baking soda and enjoy your un-smelly car seats!

Carpets

The process for carpets is pretty similar.

Remove rubber mats and floor mats then sprinkle that fabulous baking ingredient over them. The following day simply vacuum up the dust and voila. You’ll no longer be asking why does my car stink, but rather why did I live with that funky odour for any length of time?!

kids spring cleaning a car

For the best results

Always check your car manual for any restrictions on how and what you clean each area of your car with.

Different manufacturers may stipulate different cleaning methods for the materials they’ve used. For this reason you should use the above tips in conjunction with your manual and its guidelines.

While we’re on the topic of getting wet smells out of cars, find out whether cars are waterproof.

Car insurance for your fresh car

Now you’ve taken care of the olfactory experience, take care of your financial safety on the road with a cost-effective car insurance plan. PD Insurance has three competitive policies it will be difficult to go past.

You get to choose between third party property car insurance, which helps cover accident related damage you cause to others’ cars and property. Or third party fire and theft car insurance, which covers all that and damage to your car though only in the event of fire or theft.

You can also choose comprehensive car insurance, which offers the widest range of cover. Your car could be stolen, damaged in a range of weather conditions or end up in an accident. If this happens your plan helps you pay the costs of replacement and/or repair. Ditto with any third party damage you cause.

Read our guide to comprehensive car insurance in Australia to understand its value for money. Then click below to get a quick, free quote today.

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