How to Remove AC Smells in Your Car?

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How to Remove AC Smells in Your Car?

Air conditioning systems in cars are a blessing during the hot summer days of Dubai, providing a comfortable driving experience. However, Car AC is likely to give off a foul smell over time, due to multiple reasons. Having such a smell while driving on busy roads is very uncomfortable. The odor can be caused by a buildup of moisture, bacteria, mold, or even dead insects within the system.

If you’re experiencing a foul smell from your car’s AC, don’t worry; there are steps you can take to eliminate the AC smells and improve the air quality in your car. In this guide, we’ll walk you through identifying the smell’s source, followed by providing you with effective methods to remove AC smells in your car. With these simple tips and tricks, you can remove AC smells in your car.

Common Causes of AC Smell in Your Car

You may experience a foul smell releasing from your Car AC for multiple reasons. Up ahead, we’ve explained some reasons that cause the AC in your car cabin to smell bad.

  • Mold: When moisture stays trapped in the car’s AC system for long, it can create mold and mildew. This, in turn, can produce an unpleasant smell that can ruin your mood and day.
  • Dirty air filter: Your car’s air filter can be blocked with debris and dirt accumulation. This causes the cooling system to work less efficiently and produce unpleasant smells.
  • Gas leaks: Gas is present in your car AC to cool the air. If there is a gas leak in the car’s AC system, it can produce a strong bad smell that is similar to the scent of rotten eggs.

Step-By-Step Guide to Remove AC Smells in Your Car

Unpleasant smells from the AC system can be a significant issue. This guide will help you remove those unpleasant odors and keep your car’s AC smelling fresh and clean.

1. Identify the Cause of the Smell

Mold and mildew are common causes of AC smells in cars. They grow in dark, damp places, like the evaporator and air ducts, causing a musty odor. Find out if you have mold and mildew in your car cooling system.

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If not, you might be having bacteria accumulation. Bacteria and fungi can thrive in your car’s AC system due to moisture accumulation, producing a foul smell when you turn on the AC. Don’t forget to check the cabin filter. A clogged cabin filter can trap dust, dirt, and debris, leading to a buildup of contaminants and causing unpleasant odors.

2. Clean the Cabin Air Filter

Cleaning the cabin air filters will help you improve your car AC’s air quality. You can do it by yourself by following these steps given below:

  1. Every car has an air filter located in different places. Try to find your car’s cabin air filter using the manual guide.
  1. Once you’ve located it, carefully remove the filter without disturbing any other cooling system part.
  1. Use some water and detergent to clean the filter. It should be fully dried before you reinstall it.

You can use it again after cleaning if it’s not damaged from anywhere. If it’s very dirty or damaged, you’ll have to replace it with a new one. Find some car AC service in Dubai to get the professional installation of cabin air filters in your car.

3. Clean the Evaporator and AC Ducts

The AC ducts are another area where bacteria, mold, and debris can accumulate. It can lead to a bad smell coming from the vents. In addition to the unpleasant odor, these contaminants can also impact the air quality in your car. Cleaning the evaporator and AC ducts will help eliminate the bad smell’s source. You can effectively clean the evaporator and AC ducts with this method.

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  1. Buy a foaming cleaner specifically designed for car AC systems. These cleaners can break mold and mildew buildup in the evaporator and air ducts.
  1. Follow the cleaner’s packaging instructions to apply it to the evaporator and ducts. Turn off the AC and open the windows while applying the cleaner to ensure proper ventilation.
  1. Let the cleaner work for the recommended time, then start the engine and turn the AC on to remove the debris and cleaner from the AC ducts.

4. Use an Odor Eliminator

An odor eliminator is a great way to remove bad odors from your car’s AC system. An odor eliminator is a product designed to neutralize and eliminate odors rather than just masking them with a fragrance. Here are a few useful tips for using an odor eliminator.

  1. Find an odor eliminator specifically designed for car use to neutralize lingering smells.
  1. Apply the odor eliminator to your car’s interior, paying special attention to the AC vents.
  1. Give some time to let it work, and then turn on your AC again to see if all the bad smell is gone.

5. Maintenance and Prevention

Maintenance and prevention are key to removing bad smells from your car’s AC system. It will prevent them from coming back. Here is how to keep the bad smell away from your car cooling system.

  1. Check and replace your car’s cabin air filter to prevent the buildup of contaminants and smells.
  1. To promote airflow, run your AC system regularly, even during colder months.
  1. Use your AC system’s “fresh air” setting to bring fresh air from outside.

Following these points will prevent stale air from circulating in the cabin. Remove unpleasant smells from your car’s AC system and maintain a fresh and clean environment by taking good care of the air conditioning system. 

Additional Tips for Keeping Your Car Smelling Fresh

  • Consider using natural odor absorbers such as charcoal bags or sachets filled with dried lavender or other herbs.
  • Avoid leaving moist goods in your car, including towels or gym bags, and use a dehumidifier if necessary. Keep your car dry for fresh air quality in your car cabin. Mold and bacteria can grow and reproduce in moist environments, so keeping the car dry is important. 
  • Food items like garlic, onions, and fish can leave strong odors in the car. Avoid eating these foods in the car, or keep them in a sealed packet to prevent the smell from spreading. In addition, smoking in your car can also cause a bad smell in your car.
  • Use a carpet and upholstery cleaner to thoroughly clean these surfaces and remove lingering smells. Over time, debris can accumulate in the carpet and upholstery, causing unpleasant odors. 
  • Keeping the car ventilated can help prevent odors from becoming trapped in the car’s interior. Open some portion of your windows or use the vent setting to circulate fresh air into the car cabin.


In conclusion, AC smells in your car can be a nuisance, but with some preventative measures and DIY solutions, they can be removed effectively. Regular maintenance of the car’s AC system, cleaning the car’s interior regularly, and using natural odor absorbers can help keep your car smelling fresh. If you cannot do it yourself, consider reaching out to AC experts near you. Professional solutions such as AC system cleaning services and odor eliminator treatments are also a good idea. 

Dylan Miller

I am a Chicago native and regular contributor to "Locar Deals". I have a master's degree in English, am an automobile content creation specialist, and have written professionally for a variety of automotive companies over the past few years. I write on a variety of vehicles, from high-end luxury cars to ten-year-old gas guzzlers and everything in between. And I love sharing valuable car buying tips with consumers from all walks of life.

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