How to Get Rid of Bad Odors in Car Carpets (Chemical Free)

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If the carpets inside your car are starting to smell from pets and children (or you) spilling food and drinks inside the car, you’re not alone!  

I was looking for a safe way to clean the carpets inside my car without the use of chemicals as my dog and children are in contact with the carpets. 

The risk of using chemicals in close proximity to my children is not one I can take. You have to consider allergies, skin conditions and even pets can get bad reactions from sitting on the car carpets if cleaned with chemicals. 

So, what’s the solution?

One safe and natural method that kills 99% of all germs is steam cleaning.  

Steam cleaners can remove all sorts of odors from your car, including those pesky pet smells.

Plus, they don’t leave any chemical residue behind and are safe for fabrics. So, whether it’s lingering cigarette smoke or just some funky smell leftover from last week’s road trip with your buddies, we’ve got you covered.  

You deserve to drive in a clean car without having to worry about what people will think when they get in.  

Can steam cleaners be used on all areas of the car?

Steam cleaning is a chemical-free way to remove odors from your car’s carpets, seats, or fabric roofing. So how does it work?   

Standard steam cleaners heat water to boiling point (212 °F), where it is formed into steam. The water vapors projected from the steam cleaner, at force, penetrate the surface deep down.   

This allows the steam to destroy a substance’s odor molecules it has produced. Steam cleaning removes odor particles from the air around you producing a fresh, clean scent.   

Best steam cleaner for car odors

Finding the right steam cleaner for any first-time buyer can be hard. So, how do you know which to buy?   

In this situation, we are looking for a steam cleaner that is:  

  • Portable or handheld  
  • Long battery life   
  • Powerful   
  • Average water tank size  

I recommend the Bissell handheld steam cleaner. It’s the one I use in my family car which is an estate car, so it’s got a lot of fabric and carpets to clean. This small but capable cleaner has a ton of cleaning power to remove even the most stubborn stains. 

This cleaner comes with various attachments, one being a wand head attachment which we recommend for hard-to-reach places in your vehicle. It also comes with a safety cap and child lock to keep the family safe.

Does steam cleaning damage the car interior?

Steam cleaners are used as a chemical-free alternative when cleaning. This is because harsh chemicals, used in everyday cleaning products, have been known to damage, discolor, and weaken the protective shell of surfaces over time.  

While steam cleaners only use water to break down dirt and grime, the steam cleaning process will not damage any aspect of your car’s interior.

  • However, we do not recommend using a steam cleaners near electrical products e.g., radio, CD player, Sat Nav, and other electrical and sensitive areas of the car. 

Can car odors stick to your clothes?

Odors can stick to our clothes but some are more noticeable than others. All odor molecules can stick to our clothes but only noticeable from the scent it carries.    

Body odor is the most common found on clothes as they are in direct contact with one another.

Even after washing clothes, odors can still be found due to the bacteria that haven’t been washed out. The smell of the odor is enhanced when in contact with heat from the body. 

Different odor types found in cars

Odor molecules are constantly traveling around us in the air particles we breathe. Commonly they are odorless or scent-free. So, what’s that smell in your car?  

Smoke – Ash from a cigarette left on surfaces can leave a smoker’s scent embedded in the vehicle’s interior. Smoke also produces a tar-like substance that sticks to all surfaces. This substance can nest in the vents of a vehicle making it difficult to remove and to receive fresh air.   

Sickness – As everyone knows vomit isn’t the most pleasant of smells, especially in a confined space. Traveling with children or pets, wiping up the sick might not be enough to remove the odor fully. As the liquid dries into the fabric, deep steam clean is recommended.  

Sweat – On a hot day or just a busy day, sweat odor is one of the most commonly found odors in a vehicle. This odor can be strong and produced often.  


Overall, using a handheld steam cleaner is an eco-friendly and chemical-free way to remove odors and stains from your vehicle.   

The MIMLANT handheld, a portable steam cleaner, is perfect for your vehicle to penetrate deep down to remove harsh odors from your vehicle’s interior without damaging it.  

Do NOT steam clean your radio or CD player!  

Steam cleaning will remove all types of odors but as an extra precaution, use the Trettitre air purifier, perfect for vehicles. 

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