5 Cheap and Easy Ways to Make Your Car Smell Delightful

Happy driver
Photo by mimagephotography / Shutterstock.com

Americans spend a lot of time in their cars, so it can be pretty unpleasant if they are driving around in a less-than-fragrant environment.

Fortunately, there are many potential fixes for the problem — and some of them are inexpensive and chemical-free.

Following are five do-it-yourself ways to get your ride smelling swell.

1. Open a box of dryer sheets

Over on Reddit’s “Life Hacks” forum, a contributor who goes by j-mt suggests storing an opened box of dryer sheets under the front seat of your car. He says it’s cheaper and lasts longer — more than three months — than an air freshener or even Febreze.

And he suggests a bonus feature of using dryer sheets:

“If you smoke, smell like the restaurant you just ate at, or just need a freshness pick-up, you can take one out of the box and rub it all over your clothes for a freshly laundered smell.”

2. Fill a sock with coffee

Love the smell of fresh-brewed coffee in the morning? Keep that pleasant scent lingering all day by creating a coffee air freshener for your vehicle. The folks at Instructables suggest filling a sock — or two — with coffee beans or even ground coffee.

Tie the sock closed, and put it under the driver’s seat. If you have a second sock, stick that under the passenger seat.

If you don’t have a spare sock on hand, a bag would work as well. Coffee beans in a paper bag is one of the clever ways flight attendants use coffee to banish nasty smells.

If you simply can’t get enough of the smell, you can duplicate it in your home. According to Instructables:

“f you are looking for something pretty, then try this same thing only instead of a sock use a decorative bowl and only use coffee beans. In my office I have a bowl that used to have spare change and now it’s home for a half a bag of coffee beans. It makes the entire room smell amazing.”

3. Create a ribbon-and-cotton-ball air freshener

When Julie of Frugally Blonde shuttled her teen son and his friends to training sessions as the boys prepared for a mini-marathon, the experience opened her eyes — and tortured her nose.

“I honestly had no idea boys could smell that bad,” she says.

So, Julie broke out her favorite essential oils and — combined with a ribbon and cotton ball — created a car-vent air freshener. You can see the result on her blog. Julie says:

“They are not only cute, but because they go into the vent they make the car smell better than the hanging air fresheners. Plus they only cost a dollar or two to make.”

Essential oils aren’t exactly cheap on a per-ounce basis, but you can easily find them on Amazon, for example, for as little as $5 to $10 per bottle. Julie says she puts only four drops on a cotton ball. At that rate, even a small bottle should last you a long time.

4. Add essential oils to a clay disc

Kelly at Simple Life Mom suggests adding 10 to 15 drops of an essential oil to a clay disc. Once the clay has absorbed the oil, you simply place it in your car and enjoy the scented air.

“This method is so easy and actually lasts a long time. It’s probably my favorite,” Kelly says.

She uses a special-purpose clay disc that she says you can find at craft stores and kitchen specialty stores. But most any terra-cotta vessel — such as a flower-pot saucer you can buy for a buck or two at home improvement stores — can serve as an essential oil diffuser.

5. Pour a little baking soda

Sometimes, the best way to tackle a problem is to go back to the basics. Jenni of Sweet Pennies From Heaven suggests using baking soda, which has been eliminating odors of all kinds for generations.

Jenni sprinkles it on her carpets and seats, scrubs it in with a brush and lets it sit overnight before vacuuming it. She says, “It really helps take all the stink away that kids and pets leave!”

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