How to Make a Car Smell New Again

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Mmmm, you can’t beat that new car smell, it’s one of the many perks of buying a brand-new car. Unfortunately it doesn’t last all that long. But in this guide, we’ll shed the secrets of new car smell and how you can get it back once and for all.

What is the New Car Smell?

The smell that we know as ‘new car smell’, is emitted by the vinyl and leather materials in our vehicles, known as volatile organic compound. According to, there is a mix of 50 to 60 volatile organic compounds used in the production of new cars.

In simple terms, the chemical or petroleum-based products are the factors which create the new car smell. Although it was never designed for a perfume effect, luckily the odours are not dangerous, it is just because of the process of creating new materials for a new vehicle.

How Long Does New Car Smell Last?

How long the new car smell lasts will completely depend upon how quickly you replace those natural odours coming from the plastic with your own everyday odours. Most consumers would agree that the new car smell lasts for about 4-6 weeks. However, if you want to keep your car smelling fresher for longer, avoid smoking in the car and having frequent take away food.

Car manufacturers are reducing the number of materials used in vehicles that are based on petroleum, this means that the ‘new car smell’ we all know and love is on it’s way out. You may notice that brand new cars do not have as strong new car smell as previously.

However, many car dealerships appreciate that their customers enjoy the new car smell, and will use air fresheners and sprays specifically designed to smell like the ‘new car smell’, but without the volatile organic compounds.

How to Get the New Car Smell Back

By now you’ll have learnt that the secret to the ‘new car smell’ is to minimise any odours that will over power the scents emitted by the vinyl and leather in your car.

Here are some proven ways to get your new smell back:

  • Get a professional air conditioner refresh, car dealerships offer this service and this method removes odours which occur in car air conditioning units.
  • Vacuum regularly – dirty shoes and food crumbs can cause lingering smells. However, don’t use shake-n-vac or any other vacuuming products as these will have their own odour.
  • Wash the interior of the car – car mats and seats, use a special car shampoo that is designed to be used on fabric.
  • Take the car to a professional valet, if professional help is needed.

Tips for Removing Unnatural Odours

Here are some examples of natural products which help to remove nasty odours from car interiors:

  • White Vinegar – this has a potent smell, so only use a little and dilute with water. Use on areas that have an odour.
  • Essential Oils – the scent of essential oils is quite strong, so a few dabs of this on a tissue will give an area which is affected by odour, a new fresh smell.
  • Baking Soda – is a natural yet hard duty odour remover. It just needs to be sprinkled over a smelly area and vacuumed after 15 minutes.
  • Activated Charcoal – This is a high impact natural odour remover, the activated charcoal is versatile within its usage and it leaves a fresh, clean scent.

Products with New Car Scent

As mentioned earlier, many manufacturers and dealerships use products that have been formulated to replicate the new car smell. Here are some of our favourites:

Little Trees – New Car Fragrance

  • Instantly recognisable tree shape.
  • Exceptional new car fragrance.
  • An iconic favourite.

Yankee Candle Vent Sticks

  • True to real life new car scent.
  • Part of the Yankee Candle brand.
  • The smell can last up to six weeks.
  • Discrete and stylish.
  • Unique design.

Dakota Odour Bomb

  • Destroys odours quickly and permanently.
  • It’s an odour eliminator.
  • Destroys odours such as: urine, rancidity, fire and tobacco.

Meguiar’s Interior Dash & Trim Protectant

  • Non-greasy formula
  • UV Blocking for durable protection and it prevents cracking.
  • Leaves a refreshing ‘new car scent’ whilst eliminating odours.
  • Removes daily dirt and grime whilst providing a rich satin sheen.

Turtle Wax Fresh Shine Interior Cleaner

  • Protects and freshens, plastic protectant and 8-day air-freshener.
  • Professional smell.
  • High quality ‘new car’ fragrance.
  • Keeps all interior plastic clean and shiny without dust and finger marks.

Autoglym Autofresh

  • Non-staining spray formulation.
  • Refreshing fragrance.
  • Simply apply to carpets or trim fabric, as required.
  • Counteracts odours caused by pets, dampness, traffic fumes and tobacco.
  • Long lasting.

Final Thoughts

Nothing beats a good deep clean to eliminate odours and get your car smelling as good as new.

Whilst we might be seeing the new car smell gradually come to an end in new production vehicles as manufacturers move away from petroleum based vinyls and plastics, the smell that is close to our hearts will live on through products formulated to reproduce it’s scent.