How To Get Air Freshener Smell Out of Car in 2023

The presence of air fresheners in cars is a common practice to combat unpleasant odors. However, these seemingly innocent accessories can sometimes lead to unforeseen problems. 

Overpowering air fresheners not only mask bad smells but also have the potential to create an overwhelming environment inside the car, making it difficult to breathe and concentrate. 

Furthermore, the strong scent emitted by these air fresheners can pose health risks, making it challenging to enjoy your drive. If you find yourself dealing with an overpowering air freshener in your car, fear not, as this article aims to provide you with valuable insights and practical solutions to help you eliminate the lingering smell. 

By following our comprehensive guide on how to remove an overpowering air freshener from your car, you will discover a variety of effective methods, ideas, and step-by-step instructions, as well as a list of necessary items. 

Whether you prefer quick do-it-yourself fixes or professional cleaning services, this guide is tailored to offer benefits and solutions to your air freshener woes.

Do Not Forget to Read About: Best and Latest Air Purifiers

How To Get Air Freshener Smell Out of Car – Identify the Source

Now we will provide a step-by-step guide to help you pinpoint the source of the air freshener smell in your car, emphasizing the importance of this process. 

We will explore possible sources such as vents, upholstery, carpets, dashboard, and center console, and discuss effective methods to address each one. By following these steps, you can restore freshness to your car and enjoy a more comfortable and pleasant journey.

Importance of Determining the Source:

Determining the source of the air freshener smell is a crucial first step in eliminating it. By identifying the specific area where the scent originates, you can direct your efforts towards the right solution, saving time and resources. 

Additionally, understanding the source allows you to adopt targeted strategies that effectively remove the odor and prevent it from lingering or returning. 

Whether the smell is emanating from the vents, upholstery, carpets, dashboard, or center console, each area requires a different approach, highlighting the significance of identifying the source accurately.

Possible Sources and Solutions:


If the smell is coming from the vents, removing the air freshener is the first step. Clean the vents by vacuuming or using a vent brush to remove any fragrance particles or buildup. This will help improve the airflow and eliminate the overpowering scent.


When the upholstery is the source, sprinkle baking soda on the affected area and let it sit for some time to absorb the odor. 

Vacuum the upholstery thoroughly to remove the baking soda and any residual scent. For a refreshing touch, use a fabric refresher to revitalize the upholstery’s scent.


In the case of a carpet-related smell, employ a carpet cleaner specifically designed to eliminate odors. Treat the affected areas, focusing on any noticeable stains. 

For stubborn stains, consider shampooing the carpets or using a stain remover. Thoroughly dry the carpets to prevent the growth of mold or mildew.

Dashboard and Center Console:

Sometimes, the source of the overpowering scent can be hidden in the nooks and crannies of the dashboard or center console. Disassemble these parts carefully, if possible, and clean them thoroughly using appropriate cleaning agents. Pay close attention to hard-to-reach areas and ensure their proper ventilation.

How To Get Air Freshener Smell Out of Car

How to Remove Car Air Freshener Too Strong Smell

There are effective methods to get rid of air freshener smells and create a fresh environment in your car. This article will guide you through the steps to tackle the issue and enjoy a pleasant driving experience.

Use Air Purifiers Specially Made For Cars:

Consider investing in air purifiers designed specifically for cars. These devices are equipped with filters that can capture and neutralize odors, including those from air fresheners. Place the air purifier in your car and let it work its magic to eliminate the unwanted smell.

Opt for a car freshener of your choice:

Instead of relying on artificial odor products, choose a car freshener that aligns with your preferences. This way, you can replace the existing air freshener with a scent you find more appealing, effectively eliminating the unwanted smell.

Air Out The Vehicle:

Before embarking on a long drive, it’s essential to air out the vehicle. Roll down the windows halfway as you park the car in a clean and dry location. Allowing fresh air to circulate inside the car will help dissipate the lingering scent and create a more pleasant atmosphere.

Thoroughly Clean The Interior:

To effectively remove air freshener smells, start by cleaning the interior of your car. Check all the nooks, crannies, glove box, and underneath the seats for any hidden food or trash that may contribute to the odor. A thorough cleaning will help eliminate the source of the unwanted smell.

Utilize Activated Charcoal:

Activated charcoal is a powerful odor absorber. Place a shallow pan filled with charcoal briquettes in your car and leave it there for a few days. The charcoal will absorb and neutralize the odors, leaving your car smelling fresh and clean.

Sprinkle Baking Soda On Seats And Upholstery:

Generously sprinkle baking soda over the car seats and upholstery. Let it sit for a few hours to allow the baking soda to absorb the odors. Afterward, thoroughly vacuum the area to remove the baking soda and any trapped fragrance particles.

Clean The Upholstery:

If the air freshener scent has deeply permeated the upholstery, a thorough cleaning is necessary. Use a shampoo and steamer to clean the upholstery, paying special attention to any spots that are heavily soiled with the fragrance. This will help eliminate the odor molecules embedded in the fabric.

Condition And Ventilate The Upholstery:

After cleaning, condition the upholstery according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Additionally, leave the upholstery alone for a while to allow the natural smell to return.

Regularly ventilate your car by rolling down the windows or using the car’s ventilation system to maintain a fresh environment.

Deodorize The Car:

Before driving, place odor-removing products in the car for an hour or two. These products can further eliminate lingering odors and create a more pleasant atmosphere. 

Ensure all traces of previous fragrances are completely removed before introducing a new car freshener.

Avoid Scent Blending:

To maintain a pleasant environment, avoid blending different smells in your car. The combination of scents in a small space can create an unpleasant and overwhelming experience. 

Focus on eliminating unwanted odors and choose a single freshener that suits your preferences.

Chemical Elements in Car Air Fresheners

Car air fresheners rely on a combination of chemical compounds to create pleasant scents that mask unpleasant odors. Understanding the common ingredients and their characteristics is important for using car air fresheners effectively and safely.

Alcohols: Producing a Clean Scent:

Alcohols, such as ethanol, are frequently used in car air fresheners. They contribute to the characteristic “clean” smell. Alcohols evaporate quickly, preventing the fragrance from becoming overwhelming. 

Manufacturers typically use lower concentrations of alcohol to avoid excessive drying and potential skin irritation.

Acids: Refreshing Scents and Odor Removal:

Acids, including citric acid, are key ingredients in car air fresheners. They release acidic vapors when exposed to air, resulting in refreshing scents like citrus, mint, and lavender. These acids not only provide pleasant fragrances but also help eliminate other odors present in the car. However, it is important to handle acids with care due to potential inhalation risks.

Fragrance Oils: Complex Mixtures for Desired Scents:

Fragrance oils are the primary components of air fresheners, responsible for the desired scent. They are intricate mixtures of chemicals, combining alcohols, esters, and ketones. 

Different oils, such as lemon, orange, rose, or jasmine, are blended to create unique and appealing fragrances. Fragrance oils also help mask existing odors, enhancing the overall scent experience.

Essential Oils: Natural Aromas with Added Benefits:

Extracted from plants, essential oils offer pleasant aromas in car air fresheners. They not only provide fragrance but also possess additional benefits. Essential oils, such as lavender or eucalyptus, have shown anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. 

They can purify the air, reduce the risk of respiratory infections, and even improve focus and concentration.

Solvents and Propellants: Ensuring Even Distribution:

Solvents, like ethanol and propylene glycol, dissolve the fragrant molecules present in air fresheners. They facilitate the even distribution of scents throughout the car’s interior. 

Propellants, such as butane and propane, aid in spraying the fragrance into the air. These solvents and propellants play essential roles in delivering a consistent and pleasant scent experience.

Caution and Proper Usage:

While car air fresheners can enhance the driving experience, caution must be exercised to ensure safe usage:

  • Use air fresheners sparingly to avoid excessive inhalation of chemicals.
  • Keep in mind that some ingredients, if inhaled in large quantities, can potentially cause harm.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding recommended usage and duration.
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to air freshener chemicals, especially in enclosed spaces.
  • Consider ventilation to maintain a fresh and well-aired environment inside the car.
  • If experiencing any adverse reactions or discomfort, discontinue use immediately.

How To Make Your Car Smell Good Without Air Fresheners

There are alternative methods to make your car smell good without relying on air fresheners. In this article, we will explore a variety of natural and effective ways to maintain a delightful fragrance inside your car.

Regular Cleaning:

The first step to achieving a pleasant-smelling car is to keep it clean. Regularly vacuum the interior to remove dust, dirt, and food particles that can contribute to unwanted odors. Pay extra attention to floor mats, upholstery, and the trunk area. 

Wipe down surfaces with a mild cleaner and ensure all trash is promptly removed. A clean car provides a neutral canvas for a pleasant scent.

Baking Soda:

Baking soda is a versatile and inexpensive ingredient that helps absorb odors. Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on the car’s fabric surfaces, such as the seats and carpets. 

Leave it overnight to allow the baking soda to absorb any lingering smells. The following day, vacuum thoroughly to remove the baking soda, leaving behind a fresh scent.

Natural Fragrances:

Harness the power of nature by incorporating natural fragrances into your car. Here are a few options to consider:

a. Essential Oils: Place a few drops of your favorite essential oil on a cotton ball or a small cloth and tuck it into a discreet corner of your car, such as the glove compartment or under the seats. 

Refresh the oil every few weeks to maintain a pleasant scent. Popular choices include lavender, citrus, peppermint, and eucalyptus.

b. Scented Wood Chips: Purchase scented wood chips, typically used for closets or drawers, and place them in a breathable sachet or small cloth bag. These chips release a gentle aroma and can be hung from the rearview mirror or tucked away in an inconspicuous spot.

c. Natural Herbs and Spices: Harness the delightful aromas of herbs and spices by placing small sachets filled with dried lavender, cinnamon sticks, cloves, or bay leaves in your car. Not only will these natural ingredients provide a pleasant scent, but they can also deter pests.


Allowing fresh air to circulate in your car is an effective way to eliminate odors. Whenever possible, roll down the windows or open the sunroof while driving, especially in areas with good air quality. 

This helps to remove stale air and replace it with the pleasant scents of nature. Additionally, periodically clean and replace your cabin air filter to improve air quality inside the vehicle.

Proper Odor Elimination:

In some cases, it may be necessary to address specific odors rather than simply masking them. Identify the source of the unpleasant smell, such as spills, pet accidents, or moldy upholstery, and take appropriate measures to eliminate it. 

Use specialized cleaning products, steam cleaners, or seek professional detailing services if required.

Kristen Park - Specialised Content Writer for Caresh Fresh

My name is Kristen Park and I am a senior writer specialising in how-to guides and home cleaning information at Cares Fresh. As a researcher, I take pride in digging deep to find every small detail on a topic and explaining it in a way that is easy for the reader to understand.