Why Your Car Smells Like Garbage & How to Fix It

It’s not only uncomfortable if your car starts to smell like trash; it’s also bad for your health. I mean, being stuck in a small place for a long time with a bad smell is scary, and driving can be tiring. You don’t have to deal with that smell, though.

What causes a car to suddenly smell like garbage?

People who want to know why my car smells like a dumpster or trash should read this. Food spills, animal poop, and wetness that has been there for a long time are common reasons why cars smell like garbage all of a sudden. Others could be problems with the car itself, like a broken engine or fluid leaks.

1. Food spills or remnants

One big reason your car smells so bad is that food has been spilled or left behind. There’s a chance that food crumbs or spilled food in your car got to a hard-to-reach spot by accident or because of other people in the car.

Sometimes, you or someone else in the car may have forgotten to bring a food pack. These things can start to go bad after a while, giving your car that garbage-like smell.

2. Animal droppings or intrusion

For people who love pets or move animals, one of your pets or animals may have peed or pooped in your car without you knowing.

In other cases, mice, bugs, or rats may be able to get into your car if you park it in an area where these animals live. And many of them will leave droppings or even die in your car, which will always smell bad. People who want to know why their car smells like a dead animal should read this.

Also Read:  Tips for Cleaning the Throttle Body Without Taking it Out

3. Moisture

Water can get inside sometimes through the window or roof seals. Mold or mildew can grow in your car over time because of this, especially when it’s warm outside. It’s also possible to leave sweaty gym or sports clothes in a bag inside your car. Both of these things give off a wet, bad smell over time.

4. Car issues

If your car has problems like a bad muffler or oil leaks, it can also smell bad. If your exhaust or other exhaust parts aren’t working right, they could leak or cause pollution problems, which would let exhaust fumes into your car.

If you have an oil leak and it happens on a hot part of your car, like the engine, it can give off a burning smell that makes its way inside. Even though these don’t happen very often, they can sometimes be the cause of your car smelling like trash.

How do you fix the garbage smell from your car?

Here are some easy ways to make your car smell like fresh garbage.

1. Identify and remove the source of the smell

In order to fix the garbage smell in your car, you must first find the source of the smell. There may be food and drink spills, animal droppings, dead animals, dirty gym clothes, old grocery bags, and other things you may have left in the car. Check the trunk, under the seats, and any other strange places.

In those hard-to-reach places, use a flashlight. You can use your nose to find the smell’s source if you want to. Just smell where the smell is strongest.

Also Read:  Cleaning Your Leather Steering Wheel: A Simple Guide

2. Thoroughly clean the car

If you find anything that might be causing the smell, clean it up. Pay extra attention to the floors, seats, and fabrics.

3. Clean the air filter and deodorize the AC system

The smell could sometimes be coming from the air filter because dust and other things have built up there over time. There you have it. You now know why your car air smells like garbage.

If the air filter is dirty, you should get a new one. You can also use any spray made to get rid of smells that is made for air filters to clean it. This will lessen the smell, but it won’t get rid of it completely because the smell’s cause is still there.

4. Use odour eliminators or air fresheners/essential oils

Once you’ve gotten rid of everything that might be causing the smell, you can use any odor remover to make your car smell fresh again. Odour eliminators have ingredients that not only get rid of smells but also cover them up.

Putting air fresheners and essential oils in your car is another way to make it smell better after cleaning it. You can make your car smell good again with a few drops of essential oil or sprays of scent.

On the market, you can find different kinds of air fresheners. Plug-in air fresheners are another option if you don’t like sprays. But don’t use too much; too much of it can be annoying.

5. Seek professional help

If the smell keeps coming back or you’re not sure you can do what was mentioned above, you might need to hire a professional. Professionals who clean cars have the right tools and know-how to get rid of that garbage smell.

Also Read:  Exposed Wire in Tire: Causes, Dangers, and How to Avoid


The main reasons your car smells like garbage all of a sudden are food spills, animal droppings, and water. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make your car smell good again. Get rid of the thing that smells bad and clear the car to get rid of the smell’s source. As needed, use an air cleaner or something that gets rid of smells.

By doing the things above, you can also keep your car from smelling bad. But most importantly, get rid of whatever is making the smell quickly. The longer it goes, the harder it is to make your car smell good again.

Leave a Comment