How to Keep that New Car Smell [6 Easy Habits]

A new car smell is always enticing. No matter how old a car may be, if you retain a good smell inside the car, it will always feel brand new. When you buy a new car, the smell comes from volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs would emit gas into the passenger seat. However, this would diminish over time and your car won’t smell brand new anymore. But do you know that there are ways to keep new car smell? That’s what we will tackle in this article.

Black car interior with leather seats
Photo Credit: Pexels/Mike

You may notice a few car fresheners that say “new car smell” on their labels as you go through the automotive aisle of stores. However, these smells may either be too much or too modest when compared to the actual smell of a new car. Some people find it too fragrant, while some too leathery. Away from the store aisles, you can still achieve the new car smell in your own little ways by doing simple things.

Maintain a regular cleaning schedule

Regular cleaning is always a good way to keep new car smell for a long time. Do not be too lazy when it comes to cleaning your car. Once or twice a month of proper cleaning is already enough to maintain your car’s cleanliness and freshness. However, if your passengers are little kids and toddlers, you may consider cleaning the interior as often as possible.

If you do not clean your car regularly, smells from spilled beverages, foods and other items may hang around for some time. It will be difficult for you to clean them once the unwanted odors decide to stay. When cleaning, pay particular attention to the following:

Red car interior with large red steering wheel
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Nikola Treći


Seats come in contact with us the most. Hence, it is also one part of the car that gets bad odors after a while. It can absorb sweat from our body or spills from what we are consuming. That is why you need to clean the seats regularly.

Use a seat shampoo when cleaning. Ensure that you choose the proper product intended for your seat covers when cleaning. Cleaning products for leather-covered seats are not the same for clothed seats. Getting the appropriate product will not only clean your seat and leave it feeling fresh, but it will also prevent any damage to seat covers.

Floor mats

Another way to keep new car smell is to clean the floor mats. Remove the floor mats from the car and wash them thoroughly with dish soap. You can hose rubber mats to remove any debris that has attached to them. Meanwhile, clothed floor mats need to be vacuumed and scrubbed before rinsing them with water. Ensure that you dry the floor mats thoroughly before putting them back inside your car. Moisture may lead to unwanted odors and the development of molds, which will affect the scent in your car.


Vents are often taken for granted and always neglected during the cleaning process. However, these vents hold an important role in keeping a good smell in the car. When cleaning the vents, you can use foam paint and specialized brushes. For more thorough cleaning, you can use a steam cleaner to remove the dirt that has stuck on the vent slats.

Interior plastics and corners

Ensure that you clean every corner, every nook of the car. I know that this is easier said than done. But neglecting these low-key areas will only result in debris and moisture build-up that can lead to awful smell within your car’s interior. Take the case of your car’s built-in cup holders, for example. Sometimes, small drippings are coming from your cup of coffee. The drips will dry out on their own, making them invisible to you. However, it’ll be sticky to touch and the smell lingers. Thus, you have to clean these areas to guarantee that no moisture or dirt can warrant bad odors.

No eating allowed

Woman in yellow beanie eating pizza in the car
Photo Credit: Unsplash/gbarkz

My aunt has a number one rule in her car: no food is allowed. Of course, we hated it and no one would actually ride with her during long trips. However, this rule was very important to keep new car smell. With this unwanted but useful rule, she was able to keep her car smell fresh. There are no scents of burger patties nor French fries on board.

If you can, you may restrict drinking too. No matter how we love the smell of coffee, it can be too strong that it also diminishes the new car smell. So, if you really want to hold on to your car’s unsullied scent, sacrifice eating and drinking inside.

Keep other odors away

Dog staring out the window of a running car
Photo Credit: Pexels/Tim Gouw

Protecting your car from various odors is already a very obvious way to keep new car smell. The smell from used clothes inside your gym bag, shoes that you used, or even as simple as forgotten food wraps and other trash gives your car an unwanted odor. Even pet odors tend to stay in your car, especially when they shed a lot.

But, you can’t really ban pets from your car, can you? Of course, they should still be welcome in your car all the time. Just make sure that you clean up after to remove any pet smells and hairs. As for the other odorous items, remove them from your car as soon as you can. Trust me, it’ll also save you from embarrassment whenever you need to give someone a ride.

Use an odor neutralizer

White powder scattered on a table from jar
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Men may not know this, but one hack that women swore to remove odors in the kitchen is baking soda. Baking soda is a wonderful and natural odor neutralizer. It works inside the fridge or microwave, and even inside bathrooms too. Hence, there’s no reason why it won’t neutralize the odor in your car. It also helps absorb any moisture which can result in molds. All you have to do is purchase a box of baking soda, open it and leave it inside your car overnight. It’ll surely help you keep the new car smell.

Make the car a no-smoking zone

Old woman with cigarette sitting in a parked car
Photo Credit: Pexels/Kam Pratt

Cigarette smoking causes bad odors. Smokers may be unaware of it because they are already accustomed to the smell of cigarettes. However, non-smokers tend to be sensitive to this smell. Additionally, the smoke from cigarettes would often attach to fabrics. If you have a clothed-covered seat, then expect that new car smell to diminish quickly unless you keep your car a free-smoking area.

Know when to open the windows or turn on the air conditioner

Woman staring out the window of a car
Photo Credit: Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio

You need to determine when is the best time to turn the air conditioner on or opt for an open window. Given the fact that you cannot keep your car odor-free all the time, you have to know what to do when something starts to smell – no matter how light the smell may be. Drive with an open window until the smell is gone. However, this will only work when the smell is just passing such as farts. If you have food or other odorous things inside, you may need to get rid of it first to get rid of the smell.

Running your car’s air conditioner will also help keep new car smell. The air con dries any moisture inside the car, as well as the aircon itself. Moisture can result in molds, which will, in turn, yield a foul odor that is unhealthy for you and your passengers. If you prefer fresh air and open the windows, you can do so as well. However, experts recommend turning on your aircon for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.


To keep your car smell fresh and untouched, you may opt to purchase an air freshener with a new car scent. But if you have the time to apply all the tips above, you can stay away from the stench and still keep new car smell despite the age of your car. Make a habit out of these recommendations. Even if you spend time cleaning and need to apply strict rules when it comes to eating and smoking, you will surely reap the rewards of your effort as you maintain that whiff of a brand new car.