Get Rid of the Bad Smell From a Car Heater

Have you ever been in the situation when you sit into your car and feel an unpleasant smell? You have to use all your strength to eliminate this awful odor. But how to find the source of “fragrance”? There is a persistent stereotype that the car heater spreads an unpleasant smell. This can also be true, but it would be more correct to consider the air conditioning system as a whole.

The fact is that often the odorous discomfort in the car is created by smelly bacteria that settle in the warm and humid environment. You should know that there is always dampness on the evaporator of the air conditioner which is hidden in the climatic block under the dashboard. 

Even though it is not the only reason for the bad smell in a car, these bacteria are among the most likely causes. If you want to breathe freely while driving, check this effective guide on how to get rid of the bad smell from a car heater.

What can stink in the car?

Fungi and mold in the air conditioner are deemed the most common causes of unpleasant odor in the car. After turning off the air conditioner, moisture settles on the cold metal of the evaporator. This is called condensate on which dust and small debris sticks. Fungi and bacteria inhabit such places immediately.

Mold in the air ducts and on the heater radiator is another cause of unpleasant odor from the heater. However, in many car models, moisture rarely gets on the heating radiator. But the consequences are generally similar to the case in the air conditioning system.


Dust and plant debris in the air ducts and on the heater radiator is quite rare but also a possible cause of the bad smell. Insects and leaves with plant inflorescences get into the channels of the heating system. It is atypical for them to emit odors, but some plant species can stink significantly.

However, there are more extreme and unpleasant cases. Sometimes, a rodent or a small bird can die somewhere in an isolated corner of the car (not necessarily in the area of the heater). This is more common in large cities, where animals have fewer natural places to create a refuge or cache for supplies.

For such cases, a persistent odor is not connected with the work of the air conditioning system. It is better not to neglect the situation and get rid of the dead animal as soon as possible. Otherwise, the interior details can absorb this awful smell and it would be more difficult to get rid of it.

How to eliminate unpleasant odors in the car

Mold, bacteria, and other causes of bad smell. Regardless of where they live (in the heater or the air conditioner) can be eliminated with the help of the same options. There are three types of remedies for bad smell in a car.

1. Odor control products

There are odor control products that have the form of an aerosol can with a long tube. The chemical is supplied inside of the climate system through this. Before the remedy is supplied into it, the air conditioning unit should be switched on at the maximum fan speed. The tube must be inserted into the branch pipe through which air is taken from the passenger compartment.

2. Professional method

Professional options for eliminating odors are supplied into the air ducts with the help of a special device that converts the mixture into a fine mist using ultrasound. This mist is sucked into the system with the help of recirculation mode. If the air ducts are heavily clogged, they can be completely cleaned of microorganisms only with professional equipment.

This method is considered the most effective since it allows all channels and cavities of the air distribution system to be filled with a cleaning agent. That’s why odorous mold or fungi have no chance to spoil the air in your car. If you lease a car, it is better not to risk and use professional tools to avoid damage or other unpleasant complications. 

3. DIY options

You can clean the heater and air conditioner on your own without spending money on branded products. You need to disassemble the air conditioner (possibly a dashboard) and wash all its nooks with a chlorine-containing detergent. A big plus of this method is that after such cleaning, the efficiency of both heating and air conditioning will increase significantly.

The bottom line

Due to the fact that many people tend to spend a lot of time in their cars, it is essential to create a pleasant environment there. Smells are one of the attributes of comfort. You should know that not only the air freshener on the dashboard, mold, or some objects forgotten under the seats create the odor in your car. 

Dust and dry leaves on rugs also affect the aromatic comfort in the interior. That’s why use a vacuum cleaner and a soft cloth regularly to make driving pleasant and comfortable.