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You just bought a new car or truck and you want to keep it fresh and clean for as long as you can. Luckily there’s lots of ways you can keep your car smelling new by following the tips in this guide.

After all, what’s the point in buying a new vehicle if it’s gonna smell like cheetos and cigarettes in a few weeks? You’re better than that, and we’re here to help.

What’s the New Car Smell, Anyway?

That new car smell doesn’t just happen by accident. Auto manufacturers have smell teams that spend countless hours improving the “interior atmosphere” of their vehicles. And although people typically refer to “new car smell” as if it’s all the same, the aroma is different for different vehicles.

Some higher end vehicles, like Bentley, will smell like a boat hangar because of the natural wood in the vehicle.

new car smell

The smell in other vehicles can come from the finishing products used to soften and treat the leather or other materials inside.

Years ago, the new car scent was fabricated with nasty chemicals that caused health problems, so nowadays manufacturers are trying to go the more natural route. And THAT is what we want to extend, because the wonderful scent of natural leathers and wood is a million times better than the dirty locker room scent that can come about if you don’t treat your vehicle with the respect it deserves.

Here’s how you can do it.

1. Don’t eat in your car

don't eat in your car

We all know someone who treats the inside of their car like a cafeteria. Sit shotgun in one of these vehicles for even a minute and you’ll see candy wrappers, fast food boxes, and remnants of who-knows-what along the floor and on the car seats.

You’ll know this when you see it, because after getting out of the car you’ll likely have gummy bear fragments and graham cracker crumbs stuck to your pants.

That’s not a good look…or smell!

Not only is eating food in your car a hazard to driving, it can also cause some pretty bad odors over time. So save your food for your home or a restaurant…and make sure your passengers are doing the same.

2. Don’t smoke in your car…or at all

There’s nothing like smoke that seeps into fabrics, leather and other materials and lingers for days, weeks or longer. You’ll know immediately when you get into a smoker’s car because the smell is overpowering…and it doesn’t matter how many air fresheners are used to try to mask it.

no smoking in the car

Skip smoking in your vehicle…and while you’re at it, anywhere, because even the cigarette smoked outside a vehicle can linger on clothing and make its way into the vehicle.

3. Don’t let dirty pets in your car

I’m a dog lover. I have the sweetest, low-riding hound-dog you’ve ever met. But if you want to keep your car smelling new, keep your pets at home. If you need to bring them in your vehicle, make sure they’re groomed, trimmed, and bathed regularly so your car doesn’t smell like your best friend after he’s been stuck outside in a rainstorm and sprayed by a skunk.

4. Don’t leave dirty items in your car: shoes, wet clothing, trash etc

You like to work out? Great. You like to hike? Awesome. You surf? Even better! Staying active and exercising regularly is great for your health…but if you’re leaving your used gear in your vehicle, it’s bound to smell like a locker room after a while.

If you do need to travel with fitness gear, make sure you keep it stored in airtight bags that will keep the odor contained until you can wash it properly at home.

5. Use a machine washable car seat cover

This one is especially important for our athletes and fitness buffs out there. Sweat and moisture can not only lead to bad odors, but can actually damage cloth and leather car seats over time. That means cracked leather, stained cloth, and serious wear and tear on your seats. This is where a good sweat-proof car seat cover comes in.

To protect your car from sweat and odors after a workout, you’ll want a car seat cover that is:

  • machine washable
  • breathable
  • sweat/water-proof

-easy to put on and take off

We’ve created a list of the best car seat covers on the market, and recommend the Dry Rub car seat covers (yes, we’re biased!).

6. Get a natural air freshener

Some air fresheners do more harm than good. The last thing you want to do is cover up the new car smell with a harmful air freshener that smells like unicorn farts after eating too many skittles. Going natural is best here – you can pick up charcoal air fresheners on Amazon that will absorb bad odors without that obnoxious chemical smell.

7. Vacuum regularly

Even if you’re keeping food, pets, and gym gear out of your vehicle, you’re sure to track some dirt and grime into your car from regular usage. Make it a habit to vacuum your car thoroughly to keep any debris and dirt out of your vehicle.

how to keep your car smelling new

8. Clean your seats

There’s lots of seat cleaning products available for both cloth and leather seats. If you don’t use a seat cover regularly, you’ll want to make sure you’re cleaning your seats every now and then to pull out any sweat and grime that’s collected. Even if you’re not working out before you drive, warm temperatures, stress and long drives can have you sweating more than you think.

9. Drive with the windows open every now and then

Don’t neglect the power of Mother Nature – driving with your windows down or your sunroof open can clear out any bad odors and help you keep your car smelling new.

To Sum it Up…

Keeping your car smelling new will take a little work, but it can be worth it. Keep the nasty stuff out, protect your vehicle with a car seat cover, and clean your interior regularly, and you’ll be enjoying that new car smell for a long time to come.


This post was brought to you by CEO and Founder of Dry Rub- Dan Cassidy- who is passionate about helping to protect the interior of your vehicle.

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