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How to Get New Car Smell With These Top Detailer Secrets

That new car scent... There’s just something about the factory-fresh scent from the dealership that we can’t get enough of. And when it’s finally faded away, we just want to get it back! Or maybe you’ve bought a used car that needs a freshen up!

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The Two-Step Interior Kit That Works

★★★★★ "I have a 2020 Cadillac XT6 with pearl white exterior and light oyster color interior your new interior kit is fantastic it is easy to work and the results are incredible. This product is just like all your other products I purchased from you to keep my car looking better than new.." - Lillian M.

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It’s a strange mix of odors, and probably not one that we’d ever choose in a lineup of aftershaves! But it’s come to symbolize the thrill that comes with taking delivery of a brand new car, of pristine perfection, and, of course, success.

Whatever the reason, we know that the new car smell comparable to a premium air freshener makes us feel like a million bucks. And we know we want it to last as long as possible.

If you’re keen to keep your ride smelling like brand-new without going to the car wash, read a little further to find out what you need to do.

What is New Car Smell? It Is Not Always Healthy!

We love the smell, but it might not be all good news...

In recent years, health organizations have been investigating the source of this scent, and its potential health effects. Most car interiors are made from a combination of plastics and synthetic fabrics, held together with glues and sealants. It’s these materials that produce that distinctive smell. Even premium interiors finished in wood and leather will have plenty of synthetic components hiding behind the scenes. For the first few months of a vehicle’s life, these substances slowly release a gassy cocktail of chemicals into the car’s cabin. That addictive scent is, in reality, the smell of plastic and glue “breathing”.

What are these chemicals?

When tested, the largest group of chemicals were Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), including alkanes, ketones, benzenes, and aldehydes. These airborne particles are emitted by petroleum-based products and, importantly, are considered air pollutants. When tested, as many as fifty different VOCs were found in the air inside some new cars!

Are the chemicals harmful?

There is some debate about the chemicals’ toxicity. However, Jeff Gearhart, the research director at the Ecology Center, stated that “automobiles function as chemical reactors, creating one of the most hazardous environments we spend time in.”

In another study, the Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) reported VOC levels of 64mg per m3 of interior space. Among the chemicals found were the known carcinogen benzene, and the possible carcinogens cyclohexanone and styrene. CSIRO reports that humans can start to feel negative effects, such as headaches; drowsiness; nausea; respiratory distress; and eye, nose, and throat irritation from levels as low as 10mg per m3!

Of course, we have all spent some time in new cars and most of us haven’t ever felt these symptoms. Unless you are particularly sensitive to chemicals, then you’re unlikely to notice the effects. That said, even if we don’t notice an immediate impact, high concentrations are still a potential health risk.

The good news is that the high levels of VOCs and other chemicals don’t last for long. Studies show that the quantity of airborne chemicals in a car’s cabin decreases drastically within just a few weeks of purchase. CSIRO found that the concentration was around 30x lower after six weeks, and around 40x lower after six months.

If you’ve already spent a lot of time in new cars, don’t worry. The risks are relatively minor. But, if you buying a car in the future, it’s worth cracking a window open or leaving the A/C on to keep the cabin well ventilated

Why Does Your Car Stink?

In some cars, the factory-fresh smell is nothing but a distant memory. The smell of chemicals having long been replaced by other, less enjoyable, scents!

Cars are a relatively closed environment. Unless they are kept clean, it doesn’t take long for them to become a stuffy breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria and smelly molds.

So, if your cabin has started to stink, what are the most likely causes?

  1. Smoking: The smelly side effects of smoking are well-known. Smoke contains tiny particles that will attach themselves to almost any surface. Fabrics, in particular, will absorb the particles, and removing them can take a lot of work.
  2. Mold and mildew: Does your car’s cabin smell old, stuffy, and stale? If so, the most likely causes are mold and mildew growing inside. These fungi thrive in damp, dirty environments with low airflow.
  3. Dust and dirt: General dust and dirt doesn’t take long to build up and can contain almost anything. It doesn’t have the distinctive smell of mold, but general dirt certainly doesn’t smell fresh, and it will also encourage the growth of mold and mildew.
  4. Pet and child accidents: We love them, but pets and kids sometimes (often!?) do things that are outside our control! Any accidents are guaranteed to stink out your interior. Plastics and hard surfaces are easy to clean, but upholstery can take a lot of work to return to its original freshness.

Dog hair is also notorious for ruining clean interiors. Just a few journeys with a pet in the car can leave it looking and smelling like a kennel!

Inevitably, having kids or pets will make it doubly important to maintain a good cleaning regime.

  1. Stale food: Old burger box lurking under the passenger seat? Cookie crumbs embedded in the upholstery? Old food is a stink-magnet and will attract mold and bugs.

Why Air Fresheners Don’t Work?

Although popular, air fresheners have never really been a solution. Go to any gas station or auto shop and you can find an endless array of dangly cardboard things or bottles of vent-mounted perfume. But, the truth is that they only mask unpleasant smells by overpowering them with an artificial smell. The real underlying problem hasn’t gone away.

There are also a number of air fresheners that claim to give your ride that “new car smell”. Despite their high claims, we have never found them effective! That real, satisfying new car smell is the pure, undiluted scent of new products (have a browse on amazon or look at diy options!). Not new perfume with undertones of dirt and mold!

The Secret To A New Car Smell Is…

...keeping your ride’s interior clean and hygienic!

Eliminating sources of unwanted odors is the first step towards getting that perfect scent. The plastics and synthetics inside the car might not produce their smell forever, but having clean, odorless air will let it be detectable for as long as possible.

High-quality, car-specific cleaning products are also a great way to maintain and enhance the smell. A quality product will be designed to smell great, without being overpowering, and give your ride’s interior a premium, factory-fresh scent.

Here is how to banish those nasty interior odors…

Vacuum the Vehicle

The first step is to give every soft furnishing in the car a thorough vacuuming. In addition to visible dirt, this will pull smelly particles out from deep in the fabric’s fibers.

Work methodically around the vehicle, vacuuming one passenger space at a time; this will ensure that no spots gets missed. Using the crevice and upholstery attachments, pay particular attention to the areas under the driver’s seat and the seams in the upholstery. This is where that french fry from last year’s takeout likes to hide!

Using the upholstery brush, give the headliner a good vacuuming. The headliner is often forgotten because it rarely attracts visible dirt, so it can be a safe haven for smelly particles.

Wash the Seats, Carpet and Upholstery

Washing the interior fabrics will remove any dirt and particles that the vacuum couldn’t reach. You will need a specialized car interior wash product. It needs to be safe on fabrics and interior trim, and, of course, have that fresh smell that you’re looking for!

The Torque Detail Interior Kit is a killer combination of two class-leading products.

The first, Intra Clean, is a dedicated wash spray that cleans and deodorizes leather, cloth, and all dashboard surfaces. With Intra Clean by your side, those unpleasant odors don’t stand a chance!

The second, Torque Detail Intra Sheild, is a detailing spray. It takes an already clean interior up to the next level by providing ceramic and UV protectant to interior surfaces and rejuvenating their finish. If you’re looking for that new car smell, why not get that new car look too!?

Both products are totally safe on fabrics, and we stand behind every bottle we make with our 100%, no questions asked, money-back guarantee!  

If you have leather upholstery, you will want to give that premium hide a premium treatment. Well-cared-for leather should look great, feel great, and definitely smell great. See what our customers are saying about Leather Restore Ceramic Conditioner and show that hide the respect it deserves!

Finally, you’ll need some quality microfiber cloths to apply the products safely.

For more details on how to wash the interior fabrics, check out our comprehensive guide to interior cleaning here.

Wipe the Steering Wheel, Dashboard, Central Console and All Trim Panels

Smelly particles will sink deep into soft fabrics, but they can attach themselves to harder surfaces too.

To banish the unwanted odors, use a few good sprays of Intra Clean on a clean microfiber cloth and work it over every plastic or metal interior surface. You will be amazed at the difference it makes to their smell and their appearance!

DIY CERAMIC COATING - 1yr of Protection
The Two-Step Interior Kit That Works

★★★★★ "I have a 2020 Cadillac XT6 with pearl white exterior and light oyster color interior your new interior kit is fantastic it is easy to work and the results are incredible. This product is just like all your other products I purchased from you to keep my car looking better than new.." - Lillian M.

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Deodorize the Cabin

The best bet for deodorizing your cabin is a good, thorough clean. Vacuuming and a spay and wipe down with Intra Clean, followed by Intra Shield will work as a great odor eliminator nine times out of ten.

In rare cases, some additional deodorizing power might be required. If you just can’t seem to shift those smells, here are some popular remedies you can try.

Baking soda: Baking soda is a well-known natural deodorizer and bad scent absorber. When your upholstery is 100% dry, sprinkle it with a good coating of baking soda. Don’t rub it in, just leave it to sit for at least six hours.

Afterwards, just vacuum the baking soda up and it should have absorbed the odors that clung to your fabrics.

This is a messy job, but it should help if you’re in a pinch!

Borax: Similar to baking soda, Borax also has mold-killing properties. Mix equal parts Borax with baking soda and then repeat the steps above.

Air purifier: Air purifiers are designed to remove allergens and bacteria from the air inside your car. Their particle filtration systems have also been shown to reduce odors, leading to a fresher-smelling environment for you and your family.

If you want to breathe the healthiest and cleanest air possible, then an air purifier is a good idea. But beware, they cannot solve the root of the problem. Dirt and mold will pollute your air faster than a purifier can clean it, so think of purifiers as a finishing touch and not a complete solution.

Ozonator: There is some confusion surrounding ozonators. So let’s clear it up... Ozone treatment works by releasing ozone gas into the air. The gas kills bacteria and viruses.

Ozone treatments DO work in cars, but only when performed professionally. The Environmental Protection Agency found that for the ozone treatment to be effective, it must be delivered in concentrations that far exceed public safety standards. In other words, a professional can blitz your car’s interior while you are safely out of harm’s way. But shop-bought ozonators can only deliver the gas in such tiny quantities that it is rendered ineffective.

Clean The Vents And Change the Air Filters

It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to forget about the ventilation system!

Your car’s interior can be spotless, but if the air-con is fuzzed up with dust and mold, then that musty smell will follow you everywhere.

Turn the air on full blast to dislodge any extra particles and give all the vents a good vacuuming. Then spray and wipe down with Torque Detail Intra Clean. A microfiber cloth on a thin stick can be useful for getting into all the tiny gaps in the air vents.

Next, check out your air filter. It will be hidden away, so consult the owner’s manual, and if it’s dirty then get a replacement.

The New Car Smell May Soon Cease To Exist

Sadly, for people of us who love the new car smell, this distinctive odor might be fading into history. An increasing number of automakers are working to eliminate it due to the potential health risks associated with VOCs. Toyota, Mazda, Ford, VW, and General Motors all now employ teams of people to manage the concentration of odors in their cars. Mazda, for example, has already reported a 78% reduction in VOC emissions from its vehicles!

Another factor is the shift to renewable materials. As the industry trends away from using petroleum-based products for interior finishes, the distinctive smell of these glues and plastics is becoming less and less common.

DIY CERAMIC COATING - 1yr of Protection
The Two-Step Interior Kit That Works

★★★★★ "I have a 2020 Cadillac XT6 with pearl white exterior and light oyster color interior your new interior kit is fantastic it is easy to work and the results are incredible. This product is just like all your other products I purchased from you to keep my car looking better than new.." - Lillian M.

SHOP NOW

Conclusion

The smell of a new car has always been a pleasure that we as car owners want to savor. But evidence suggests that it doesn’t do our health any good.

Thankfully, car companies are reducing the amount of VOCs that new vehicles produce. And that, of course, means that they will have a milder smell. So, the best way to maximize that strangely addictive scent is to ensure that smells from dirt and grime never get the chance to cover it up.

A good, frequent cleaning regime will let that new car smell shine through for as long as possible. And, when it has finally faded, quality cleaning products will give your ride a subtle, fresh scent that will keep it feeling like it has just rolled off the factory floor.

  • Published on Jun 23, 2021
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