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    Odors inside a car quickly become overpowering. The confined area, intense heat and porous fabrics magnify any kind of odor, and, once established, they can turn into chronic problems.

    You'll get much better results if you remove an odor rather than just cover it up. Tobacco smoke causes the most complaints, but its odors are caused by living organisms that will really put you to the test. It takes a strong disinfectant to eradicate mold, algae, mildew and odors from urine, blood and spilled food.

Types of Odor Control Chemicals

    Since odors are caused by a variety of circumstances, there is a range of odor control chemicals that address specific situations.

Odor Masks

bulletThese are products which introduce one odor in order to hide another. They are useful in hiding smells that will dissipate in time on their own.


bulletThese are agents which surround an odor source and prevent it from off-gassing.


bulletThese products speed the oxidation of a compound an deplete its ability to create odors. Oxidizers are used successfully, for instance, in handling skunk odors.


bulletNeutralizers, or "pairing agents" as they're sometimes called, stop odors by stopping chemical reactions. Sulfuric acid off-gasses sulfur and when neutralized will stop smelling like rotten eggs.


bulletThese are normally crystalline structures that attract odor molecules and trap them within their internal matrix. Activated charcoal is an absorbent.


bulletEnzymes and bacteria cultures actually eat organic residues, eliminating them as an odor source. Bio-enzymes can be extremely effective in bodily waste and some food spills.


bulletOdors caused by organic action, such as mold and mildew, can be stopped by the application of a disinfectant. Killing the organism stops its ability to generate odors. Disinfectants can be packaged as inexpensive aerosols or as part of sophisticated odor-elimination systems such as foggers or ozone systems.

 Search and Destroy


Locate the Source

bulletFor food spills, as well as for urine smells, an ion-wave ultraviolet light is almost indispensable. For other smells, your nose is still the best locating tool.

Remove as Much of the Source As Possible

bulletFollow instructions on our carpet cleaning page for spot cleaning. Vacuum, scrape dried deposits and clean spots thoroughly.
bulletUrine spots will respond better if you pre-treat with an acid rinse. This is because urine, although acid when fresh, dries to an alkaline deposit. Neutralization with an acid pre-rinse will help in removing most of the spot.

Treat the Residues

bulletFor organic odors, an enzyme product will normally eliminate any remaining contaminants. The exceptions are tobacco and mold.
bulletTobacco smoke is particularly difficult to remove because smoke migrates into areas which cannot be cleaned without disassembling the vehicle. For this reason, you need to be able to introduce a product that will go where the tobacco smoke went.
bulletThermal fogging is the one method devised that can place chemicals exactly where the smoke went. Thermal fogging consists of pumping a chemical (usually based on highly purified kerosene) through a fogging device. This produces a fog that is of much the same consistency and particle size as tobacco smoke.
bulletThe fogging chemical also contains an odor control component which will work on counteracting the tobacco smell.
bulletFor mold and mildew smells, you will need to treat with a disinfectant product. Mold requires darkness, stale air, moisture, a food source and a temperature range similar to that in which humans are comfortable.
bulletFrom this, you can judge that mold and mildew will usually occur under damp carpeting and in air-conditioning systems (during periods of non-use). You may need to lift the carpeting to get at mold for treatment.

    There is nothing magic in odor removal. By following the formula of locating the source, removing as much as possible and treating the residue you can usually succeed.

    No matter how much you clean, bacteria and plant spores are totally resistant to detergents.

    Finally you should carefully read the label of any cleaner and protectant you use on the interior of the car. You will be spending many hours inside with little or no ventilation. Make sure all of the products are non-hazardous; they should be completely safe for the automobile and the occupants.

    Some substances may be fine for outside the car but not for the inside. Talk to a detailer if you have any doubts.

Try our Carpet & Upholstery Treatment.  It eliminates odors as it removes stains!


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