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How to Get Air Freshener Smell out of Car

How to Get Air Freshener Smell out of Car

How to Get Air Freshener Smell out of Car

Is your car air freshener too strong? If you’ve recently bought a new or second-hand vehicle and don’t like its overpowering perfumy smell, there are various ways to address this problem. Following our steps on how to get air freshener smell out of car will ensure a more pleasant driving experience. We also share car interior detailing tips if one of your passengers has overdone the perfume or cologne.

If you are interested in environmentally friendly car care, download our Eco Wash Benefit Guide:

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Steps to Remove Air Freshener Smell From Car

Strong air freshener in a vehicle can be overwhelming. Moreover, some strong scents can cause headaches and nausea if you’re sensitive to this sort of thing. However, you can tackle the problem by doing the following:

Let Fresh Air Into the Car

First, air out your vehicle. Park your car somewhere safe and dry, then open the doors and windows. The fresh air from outside will help dilute the concentration of odors.

If the air freshener is in a fixed location, move it to a less central area of the car. Placing it near a vent or closer to a window can help disperse the scent more evenly. You should notice a reduction in the intensity of the air freshener sent within a day or so, especially if you ventilate the car properly and complete the following steps.

Declutter the Interior

Next, clean out your car. Remove personal belongings, trash, and any unnecessary items from your car because clutter can trap strong perfume odors. Creating a clear space makes the next steps more effective, especially when placing odor-absorbers around the car.

Vacuum Seats and Carpets

Now, use your car vacuum to thoroughly clean carpets, floor, mats, upholstery, and the headliner. Carpets and upholstery can absorb fragrance molecules, contributing to a lingering smell. Vacuuming helps to reduce the concentration of these molecules by removing them from the fibers of the materials.

Clean Surfaces

Wipe down all the surfaces in your car, including the dashboard, seats, and carpets, with a mixture of water and a mild detergent or the best car interior cleaner for the job.

Natural Odor-Neutralizers

Once you’ve successfully cleaned your car interior, the next step is to use natural odor absorbers. So, when you want to know how to get perfume smell out of car, try the following:

  • Charcoal: Activated charcoal is highly porous. Place a few charcoal briquettes in the car and leave them for a day or two. Any odor molecules will adhere to the surface of the charcoal, leaving you with a fresher-smelling car interior.
  • Vinegar: White vinegar can neutralize and eliminate perfume smells. Wipe down surfaces in the car with a mixture of water and white vinegar. Although vinegar has a strong smell, it wears off as it dries. You can also place a bowl of white vinegar in the car for a few hours to absorb odors.
  • Baking soda: Sodium bicarbonate neutralizes acidic and alkaline odors. Sprinkle baking soda on carpets and upholstery. Leave overnight to allow it to absorb and neutralize odors, then vacuum to finish.

It may take time for the fragrance to fade naturally. Be patient and repeat the above steps if necessary. These natural odor neutralizers are useful when you want to know how to get a bad smell out of car in general.

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How to Get Rid of Perfume Smell in Car

If someone has applied cologne or perfume in the confined space of your car, fragrance molecules can get into the upholstery and carpets. Here is what to do:

How to Remove Perfume Smell From Car and Oil-Based Stains

If the strong fragrance is from a perfume or cologne spill or stain, our comprehensive guide on how to remove stains from car seats can help you address this problem. Note that some perfumes and colognes have oil-based formulas. And these oils can adhere to surfaces and be more challenging to evaporate or dissipate compared to water-based formulations. Do the following:

If you have time, check out our tips on how to deep clean car interior. Fragrance molecules can settle into various surfaces inside a car, including upholstery, carpets, and the headliner. Once absorbed, these molecules continue to release scent over time, contributing to a lingering smell.

Vacuum to Finish

Once you have completed the steps on how to get air freshener smell out of car, or a strong perfume scent, vacuum the seats again for a professional-looking finish.

Finally, we know that it’s not just air fresheners or perfumes that leave behind an odor. So, if you need some additional car care tips, follow these guides:

Products to Neutralize Perfume or Cologne Odors

While some people associate strong scents with cleanliness, others may find it too much. So, if you prefer a more neutral or natural scent that doesn’t overpower, here are 3 recommendations:

Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag, from $12.95. Hang or place a bag in your car to absorb and neutralize odors. Each fragrance-free bag can last up to 2 years. You can rejuvenate them by placing them in sunlight once a month for an hour.

Arm & Hammer Fridge-n-Freezer Odor Absorber, from $1.75 for 14 oz. Available from Walmart and Target. Although this product is for your fridge or freezer, you can also use it in your car.

Fresh Wave Odor Removing Gel, from $9.99 for 11 oz. Available from Target. This plant-based product is made from eco-friendly ingredients. Remove the seal and replace the slotted lid. As the gel slowly evaporates, so do strong perfume smells and odors.

How to Keep Your Vehicle Smell-Free

Incorporating these habits into your car care routine can help you maintain a clean and fresh-smelling car:

  • Regular professional auto detailing appointments will ensure strong perfumy scents and bad odors don’t spoil your driving experience. For example, DetailXPerts’ car interior detailing service includes upholstery steam cleaning to eliminate odors. This method is more effective than some air fresheners that simply mask bad smells.
  • Avoid using strong air fresheners. Choose milder scents or natural options that don’t overpower your car interior. See our tips on how to get new car smell.
  • If you own a steam cleaner for cars, deep clean car seats and upholstery to maintain a fresh car interior without needing perfumed car fragrances.
  • Also, bear in mind that heat can accelerate the release of fragrance from an air freshener. So, avoid parking your car in direct sunlight.


To sum up, if your car air freshener is too strong, or you want to know how to remove perfume smell from car, our simple steps will eliminate the problem. Proper ventilation and using natural odor-neutralizers can help up to a point. However, you may need deep-cleaning methods, such as steam cleaning, to eliminate strong fragrances embedded in upholstery and surfaces.

Finally, if you don’t have time to remove strong smells from your vehicle, leave this task to the auto detailing professionals. Our friendly team will steam clean and refresh your car interior, leaving it smelling like new.

For more details on our greener clean, download our Eco Wash Benefit Guide:

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