Posted by James Dudra on January 30, 2014
What you say? Get rid of that new car smell? No! Maybe it's a rite of passage for new car owners who find that new car smell intoxicating. But little do many know that what they are smelling is not actually bliss. Instead, those pleasant sweet smells are actually toxins. Seriously. You see, when car manufacturers assemble the interiors they use all sorts of adhesives and sealers to hold everything together. Since your car is still new, these adhesives have not settled and continue to "offgas" as VOCs into the atmosphere (aka your car's interior). It's a similar process to when you paint a room and it smells for a few days. The chemicals need to settle and offgas before the smell dissipates.
VOCs are what's known as "volatile organic compounds" which cause a host of health and environmental issues. We won't go into a ton of detail here, but just google "VOCs" and you'll find the risks associated with them.
Now, onto why you're reading this fine article. How do I get rid of that new car smell?
Quite honestly, the best thing you can do is wait. Yep. I know it's not what many people want to hear, but time will eventually allow the VOCs to complete their off-gassing. It could take a few weeks. It could take a few months. It all depends on the make and model of your car.
However, there are a few things you can do to help speed UP the process of VOC off-gassing.
Heat It Up and Bake It Out
Roll down your car windows about an inch and pull the vehicle into a sunny location. Let mother nature literally 'bake' out the VOCs from the interior. You see, elevating the car's interior temperature can help the off-gassing process. Alternatively you can also crank up the heat and leave the car running for a few hours. After the car's nice and toasty, give the interior a quick wipe-down with a microfiber. You may have to go through this process multiple times to start to see results.
Go to Your Local Detailer
One place you can actually make quite an impact on the smell is on the fabric seats and carpeting. If you have leather sorry, you're out of luck here. But ask your local detailer to use a hot water extractor on the seating and carpeting. Of course, you need to make sure they are using an eco-friendly cleaner in their machine (ahem, see Eco Touch Carpet and Upholstery). But a hot-water extractor uses...well...hot water and a cleaning agent to pull dirt and debris from fabric. This should help give you some relief on the new car smell when it comes to these surface.
Drive With Your Windows Down
This can help slightly with the process, especially during the hot summer months. If you're in a very hot climate, make sure you don't have the air set on re-circulate so you're continually pulling in fresh air.
If you can, try and get a used car. Or, if you have to get a new car, try and find one that's been on the dealer's lot for a bit longer. The dealership will have the production date on the car so you can work backwards from there.