A dog leans out the window of a car on a sunny bright day

How to Get Rid of Dog Smells in Your Car

We all love our furry friends, and we know they love car rides — windows down, tongues flapping in the breeze. But unfortunately, even if you spend every drive with the windows down, your vehicle still might be left with your dog’s unpleasant lingering scent. You know the one.

As it turns out, there’s some interesting science behind bad smells — particularly ones that come from your pup and other beloved pets. Often the odor is caused by yeast and bacteria molecules in your dog’s fur — molecules that then evaporate into the air of your car or burrow into the fabric of your seats and carpet. Even worse are pet urine odors, which can be particularly stubborn.

Truly effective odor elimination is about destroying or neutralizing the molecules causing those nasty smells, not just covering them up only for them to return later. If you want to keep taking Fido along for a ride without sacrificing the cleanliness of your vehicle’s interior, follow these steps to find out how to remove that stubborn dog smell from your car.

Three Steps to Remove Dog Odors in Your Car

  1. Get rid of dog hair
  2. Clean inside to remove odor sources
  3. Use Fresh Wave to prevent dog odors

First, Get Rid of All That Fur

Before you start scrubbing, spraying, and soaking, you’ll want to remove all that excess dog hair lying around your vehicle. Ideally, this will involve a handheld vacuum. Be sure to get the car’s floors, dashboard, seats, and seat backs — even those your dog may not sit in. Dog hair has a tendency to float around and become lodged in lots of nooks and crannies, so while your pup may not be in the driver’s seat for your treks, it doesn’t mean their fur doesn’t end up there later.

If you don’t have a handheld vacuum on-hand, consider a quick trip to your local car wash. Many have vacuum hoses available for quick use, and they’re small enough to suck up dog hair trapped between and under seats. Without access to a vacuum, a lint brush or roller will work for smaller areas in a pinch.

Next, Remove Dog Odor Molecules at the Source

It’s important to destroy or neutralize the odor molecules nestled deep in the fibers of your vehicle’s fabric and other surfaces. Luckily, you have several options for getting rid of dog smell from your car’s interior:

  • Grab a spray bottle, mix together equal parts white vinegar and water, and spray down seats and floors. The tiny droplets dispelled by the nozzle of the spray bottle will help you cover more ground more efficiently. Alternatively, wet a rag with the mixture and scrub everything down.
  • Homemade concoctions not quite doing the trick for extra-stubborn smells? Opt for a natural yet tough-on-odors solution like Fresh Wave’s odor neutralizing Sprays to instantly absorb and destroy stench-causing molecules

Keep Your Car Smelling Fresh 24/7 with Fresh Wave

If your dog has a designated seat or area of the car, consider laying down an old blanket or investing in a seat cover to make cleanup easy. Then, when your car begins to stink, simply throw the blanket or cover in the wash with a laundry additive specially formulated for odor removal

Next, swap out your fragrance-heavy car air fresheners in favor of an odor-absorbing solution. After all, Hawaiian Breeze doesn’t smell so great when it’s layered on top of musty dog stench.

Leaving a bowl of baking soda on the floor or dashboard overnight can help absorb lingering odors from time to time, but for true 24/7 odor control, try Fresh Wave Pods. Simply stick the pod under your glove box or on your windshield and replace the pack inside every 30 days to get rid of dog smell in your car for good.