7 DIY Tricks That Will Make Your Car Smell Delightful

Smiling woman sitting in car
pikselstock / 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 some do-it-yourself ways to get your ride smelling swell.

1. Open a box of dryer sheets

Woman Smelling Clean Clothes
Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock.com

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

Coffee grounds
Beloborod / Shutterstock.com

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 taking a sock (or two) and filling them 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 had, 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:

“[I]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

A and J King / Shutterstock.com

A few years ago, 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, say, on Amazon.com and at Target for $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

essential oil
AmyLv / Shutterstock.com

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

Baking soda
Alexander Ruiz Acevedo / Shutterstock.com

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!”

6. Lay some fresh basil under the back window

Green basil leaves
Billion Photos / Shutterstock.com

Cheapism recommends buying some fresh basil, laying it on newspaper and placing it under the back window of the car. As the sun dries out the basil, your car will begin to smell heavenly.

Don’t like the smell of basil? Try other options, including:

  • Mint
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary

7. Place unlit candles or wax melts in the car

Set of tea light candles
DenisProduction.com / Shutterstock.com

During warmer weather, you can place an unlit, scented candle — or wax melts — in your car. As the sun beats down on the car and warms it up, the wax will begin to melt and release its odor-busting aroma.

Do you have other DIY tips for making your car smell great? Share them by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
What’s the Difference Between FICO and VantageScore Credit Scores?
What’s the Difference Between FICO and VantageScore Credit Scores?

There are lots of credit scores out there, but if you’re keeping an eye on your credit, here’s the one to watch.

Watch This: Organize Your Home With Dollar Tree Products
Watch This: Organize Your Home With Dollar Tree Products

Here’s how to organize every corner of your home using only items from a dollar store.

This Is the Best Age to Buy Long-Term Care Insurance
This Is the Best Age to Buy Long-Term Care Insurance

If you wait too long to apply for coverage, you could be denied. So, when’s the sweet spot to apply?

Eat This Food If You Want to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease
Eat This Food If You Want to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease

One type of food associated with the Mediterranean diet offers especially large benefits.

7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make
7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make

Sometimes a big-ticket purchase is nothing more than a big waste of money.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Shopping on Amazon
9 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Shopping on Amazon

Are you losing money due to any of these missteps?

Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?
Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?

The rules are complicated when it comes to eligibility for survivors benefits.

Can a Twice-Divorced Woman Claim Social Security Survivors Benefits?
Can a Twice-Divorced Woman Claim Social Security Survivors Benefits?

Understanding survivors benefits rules is the key to getting the most from your benefit.

These Are the 10 Worst Cars for Depreciation
These Are the 10 Worst Cars for Depreciation

Two types of vehicles are especially likely to see steep plunges in value.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s
10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s

From snacks to sweets to side dishes, stock your cart with these time-tested favorites on your next TJ’s run.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

13 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021
5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021

These adjustments will affect both workers and retirees in the new year.

11 ‘Disposable’ Items You Should Be Reusing
8 Things You Should Buy at Restaurant Supply Stores
8 Things You Should Buy at Restaurant Supply Stores

You don’t have to be a chef or a restaurant owner to shop here.

Stop Buying These 19 Things Online
Stop Buying These 19 Things Online

The internet has changed how we shop. But for some things, you’re still better off buying the old-fashioned way.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

There are easy high-paying majors available in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required. We’re here to help you find easy degrees that pay well.

Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early
Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early

Like the idea of financial independence? Part of the FIRE equation is cutting costs.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Food Supply
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Food Supply

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing emergency food supply. Is your pantry well-prepared for emergencies? Knowing what to stock up on for emergencies can be a difficult task and we’re here to help.

4 Tax Credits That Will Be More Generous in 2021
4 Tax Credits That Will Be More Generous in 2021

If you are eligible for these tax breaks, they will slash your federal income tax bill — dollar for dollar.

5 Secrets of Seniors Who Keep Their Minds ‘Young’
5 Secrets of Seniors Who Keep Their Minds ‘Young’

Here is why some seniors’ brains work as well as those of people who are decades younger.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.