How To Remove VOCs From New Car? Simple Methods 2023

Getting a new car is an exhilarating experience, filled with anticipation and excitement. One of the things that make it truly memorable is the distinct smell that accompanies a brand-new vehicle. 

However, what many car owners are unaware of is that this cherished new car smell is actually caused by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in various components of the car’s interior. 

While this smell may be pleasing to some, it can pose potential health risks when inhaled or ingested. Understanding the impact of VOCs on our health and learning how to reduce their presence in a new car can significantly benefit car owners.

In this article, we will explore the techniques available to promote the release of VOCs, effectively minimizing their concentration in a new car. 

Additionally, we will address the presence of non-gaseous toxins, such as metals and flame retardants, which can also be found in new vehicles and should be addressed. 

Whether you are someone who enjoys the new car smell or finds it bothersome, our aim is to provide valuable information and solutions for eliminating the smell quickly. 

By doing so, we can help create a healthier car environment, reducing discomfort and potential sickness associated with VOC exposure. It is essential to be aware of the potential health risks linked to VOCs and take proactive steps to minimize their presence in our beloved new cars.

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How to Remove VOCs From New Car

Understanding the Chemicals in New Car Smell

We will delve into the chemicals responsible for the new car smell, explore common VOCs found in new cars, and discuss the potency of VOCs indoors. 

By understanding the potential risks associated with VOC exposure, car owners can take proactive steps to minimize their impact and create safer car environments.

The Composition of the New Car Smell:

The new car smell is a combination of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are emitted by the different materials used in the car’s interior. These VOCs contribute to the unique aroma that is often associated with a new vehicle.

Common VOCs Found in New Cars:

a. Benzene: Benzene is a well-known VOC and a human carcinogen. Prolonged exposure to benzene can have severe health implications.

b. Acetone: Acetone is a VOC that can irritate the mucous membranes, causing discomfort and potential respiratory issues.

c. Cyclohexanone: Classified as a possible human carcinogen, cyclohexanone is another VOC found in new cars that poses potential health risks.

d. Ethylbenzene and MIBK: Both ethylbenzene and MIBK are systemic toxic agents, meaning they can have adverse effects on various organs and systems in the body.

e. n-Hexane: n-Hexane is a neurotoxic agent that can negatively impact the nervous system.

f. Styrene: Styrene is considered a probable human carcinogen and can have serious health consequences with prolonged exposure.

g. Toluene: Toluene is a VOC known to cause dysfunction in the central nervous system, leading to potential neurological issues.

h. Xylene Isomers: These VOCs are toxic to fetal development, making them particularly concerning for pregnant individuals.

Persistence of Toxins in New Cars:

Research suggests that the toxins emitted by new cars can persist for extended periods, ranging up to six months or longer. Even after the initial month, the levels of air toxins remain significantly higher than recommended, exceeding exposure limits.

Health Implications and Potency of VOCs:

High concentrations of VOCs in new cars can result in adverse health effects. Disorientation, headaches, and respiratory problems are among the symptoms that individuals may experience due to the presence of high VOC levels. It can take up to three years for the VOC levels to decrease below the safe limit.

Impact of Hot Weather on VOC Concentrations:

VOC concentrations in cars can increase during hot weather. The elevated temperatures within a car, often filled with plastic components, can intensify the release of VOCs and even break down other chemicals into more toxic substances. This chemical reaction makes the car environment potentially hazardous.

Monitoring Indoor Air Quality in New Cars:

Regular monitoring of indoor air quality in new cars is crucial for understanding the persistence of VOCs and ensuring a healthier environment. This can involve using appropriate tools and techniques to assess VOC levels and identifying effective strategies for reducing exposure.

Importance of Awareness and Proactive Measures:

Being aware of the presence and potential health impacts of VOCs in new cars allows car owners to take proactive steps. These may include implementing ventilation techniques, using air purifiers, selecting cars with low VOC emissions, and minimizing exposure to toxic substances.

How To Remove VOCs From New Car?

Now, we will explore various techniques and strategies to remove VOCs from a new car, ensuring a safer and more pleasant driving experience.

Letting Fresh Air In

One of the simplest ways to reduce VOC levels in a car is through thorough ventilation. Rolling down the windows while driving allows fresh air to circulate and replace the trapped indoor air. This practice is especially important during the first 6 months of owning a new car when VOC emissions are typically high.

Heat and Ventilation

To speed up the release of chemicals, the “baking out” method can be employed. By combining heat and ventilation, this process encourages the VOCs to be released into the air. Start by leaving the car in the hot sun with the windows open for several hours. 

This allows the chemicals to be expelled from the car’s interior. Then, open the windows wide and thoroughly air out the vehicle.

Cleaning Internal Surfaces

Cleaning all internal surfaces is another effective step in VOC removal. Use a mild solution of water with vinegar or washing soda to wipe down surfaces. This helps to eliminate any lingering chemicals and prevent mold issues. Choose a sunny day for cleaning to ensure quick drying and minimize the risk of mold growth.

Activated Charcoal and Baking Soda

Activated charcoal and baking soda are well-known for their absorbent properties and ability to absorb chemical odors. Place disposable plastic boxes containing activated charcoal or baking soda under the car seat to absorb any additional chemicals emitted by the car interior. These materials help neutralize and reduce VOC levels.

HEPA and Activated Charcoal Filters

Air purifiers equipped with HEPA filters and activated charcoal filters are highly effective in reducing exposure to ongoing interior chemical emissions. 

These filters capture and trap VOCs, improving air quality inside the car. Consider investing in a reliable in-car air purifier to further minimize VOC exposure.

You can also use: Best Air Purifier for Car

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

Regularly cleaning the car’s interior is crucial for removing chemicals that continue to be released and settle on surfaces. Dust, vacuum, and wipe down surfaces regularly to minimize VOC buildup. 

Additionally, parking the car in the sun whenever possible and ventilating it before driving off helps to release accumulated chemicals.

Minimizing Time Spent in the Car

Reducing the time spent in the car is an effective way to minimize exposure to harmful VOCs. Whenever feasible, consider alternative transportation methods like walking, taking the bus, or cycling. 

Not only does this reduce exposure to VOCs, but it also benefits the environment and saves on fuel costs.

Car Manufacturers’ Efforts

Car manufacturers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of reducing toxic new car smells and VOC emissions. Many companies are taking steps to switch to water-based glues and incorporate more natural materials in their vehicles. 

Before purchasing a new car, check the manufacturer’s website or ask the dealer about their efforts to reduce VOCs in car interiors.

Further Information: How To Get Dog Smell Out of Car


Using sealants in a vehicle can slow down the off-gassing process, prolonging the duration of VOC release. However, it is generally recommended to prioritize off-gassing with heat and air before considering sealants.

Ozone: An Option with Caution

Ozone treatment can effectively eliminate specific odors like smoke and fragrance residue and denature mold. However, ozone can interact with VOCs in unpredictable ways and leave behind unpleasant oxidation smells. 

It is essential to be cautious when using ozone in cars due to potential unknowns and side effects. Results may vary, and it is advisable to seek professional advice if considering ozone treatment.

Absorptive Powders for Seats

Sprinkling baking soda or zeolite powder on seats can help absorb VOCs emitted from the upholstery. Leave the powder on the seats for approximately 12 hours, allowing it to absorb the chemicals, and then vacuum it up. 

However, be cautious as certain powders, like baking soda particles, can get stuck in certain fabrics.

Experimentation and Finding the Best Approach

Each car and individual may respond differently to VOC removal methods. Experiment with various techniques and combinations of strategies to find the most effective approach for your specific car. 

Keep in mind that what works for one may not work for another, so it’s important to find the best fit for your situation.

Regular Maintenance and Eco-Friendly Materials

In addition to specific removal strategies, regular maintenance and adopting eco-friendly materials in car manufacturing contribute to reducing VOC emissions and creating safer car interiors. 

Keeping up with maintenance schedules and choosing vehicles with environmentally conscious materials can help mitigate VOC exposure.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take a new car to Offgas?

The duration for a new car to offgas, or release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), can vary. Generally, the off-gassing process can last for a few weeks to a few months. However, it’s important to note that the intensity of the odor typically diminishes significantly within the first few days or weeks.

How do you get rid of new-car smell?

To reduce or eliminate the new-car smell, you can try the following methods:

Ventilation: Open the windows and let fresh air circulate through the car to help dissipate the odor.

Activated charcoal or baking soda: Place bowls of activated charcoal or baking soda in the car to absorb odors.

Air fresheners: Use car air fresheners or odor-neutralizing sprays to mask the smell temporarily.

Cleaning: Wipe down surfaces with a mixture of vinegar and water or use specialized automotive interior cleaners to remove any residual odors.

Do new cars have VOCs?

Yes, new cars often contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These compounds are emitted as gases from various materials used in car manufacturing, such as adhesives, upholstery, carpeting, and plastics. VOCs can contribute to the characteristic “new car smell” but may also have potential health effects if present in high concentrations.

Will ozone remove new-car smell?

Ozone generators are sometimes used to eliminate odors, including the new-car smell. Ozone (O3) is a powerful oxidizing agent that can break down organic compounds, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs). However, it’s important to note that ozone generators should be used with caution, as high concentrations of ozone can be harmful to human health and can also degrade certain materials in the car.

Is new car smell unhealthy?

The new car smell itself is not inherently unhealthy, but it is associated with the presence of VOCs. Some VOCs can have adverse health effects, such as eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, and even long-term health risks. However, the concentration of VOCs in new cars is typically low and diminishes over time, so the health risks are generally considered to be minimal.

Why do brand new cars smell?

The distinct smell of a brand new car is often a result of the off-gassing of various materials used in its manufacturing process. VOCs released from adhesives, upholstery, carpeting, plastics, and other components contribute to the unique smell. The intensity of the smell can vary depending on the specific materials and manufacturing processes used in the car.

How do dealerships make new cars smell like that?

Dealerships do not typically add any specific fragrance to new cars to create the new car smell. Instead, the smell is a natural result of the materials used in the car’s interior. The unique combination of adhesives, upholstery, plastics, and other components releases VOCs, which contribute to the characteristic new car smell.

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.