Car Smells and Odors

Cars are amazing creations.  We get to surround ourselves with technology designed to move us and protect us from the elements and other hazards.  Unlike our ancestors who had to travel exposed, we can enjoy getting from one place to another with the added protection all while listening to our favorite music and controlling the temperature.  

However, being kept in such a confined space can be a bad thing when there is unwelcome car smells in the car.  It can come from all sorts of things, from a milk spill, to food, to cigarette ash, to some hidden offender you haven’t quite found but certainly know is there.  It can make even a drive down the street unbearable and if you have a passenger it can be embarrassing. Unfortunately we have had people tell us that others don’t even notice how bad their vehicle smells at times.

Interior Detail Before and After

Interior Detail Before and After

Our Interior Detail Service  

Here at Onsite Detail our Interior Detail service has saved many a driver, and passenger, from having to face such an unwanted situation.  Our Interior Detail cleans and sanitizes every surface inside the vehicle, from steam cleaning the cracks and crevasses to shampooing carpet and upholstery.  However, it isn’t just us saying our Interior Detail service is great. Many of our clients have reviewed our services and have reported back satisfaction for helping with car smells.  This blog will look over what people have had to say as well as review our process for helping with bad car smells.

The Cleaning Process

Our Interior Detail is often a recommended first step to rid vehicles of unwanted interior odors.  Car smells that linger come in two forms- something you can throw away easily, and something you have to deep clean or extract.  When the detailers first clean the inside of the car, they clear out any debris and vacuum the car. Our detailers have shared with me that sometimes the bad smell in a car is as simple as food that rolled under the seat and molded, or a piece of trash that got to sit in the car long enough to stink.  These are usually as simple as tossing them in the garbage and making sure there is nothing “odor causing” remaining.Help those air fresheners out

Unfortunately not all bad odors are this easy to remedy.  Some of them get into the carpet, fabric or the leather and won’t come out no matter how nicely you ask them too.  I’ve had clients call in saying they tried to treat it themselves with steam cleaners or soap and water and it still comes back to haunt them.  Some have used so many air fresheners and sprays to try to get rid of it but in reality it’s just a temporary cover up. A lot of smells are so embedded in the car that the client can’t get it on their own, like cigarette smoke or a pet mess.  How do those get worked on?

When our detailers come and clean the inside of the car it helps to determine the different possible places where the smell might come from or what’s causing it the nasty odor.  Our detailers will vacuum, steam, shampoo, and scrub any cloth surface of a car and extract mats to get to deeper layers. For smells like cigarette smoke their steam cleaning can get it out of vents and crevices that might be holding onto it, as well as clean surface layers where the smell might linger.  Surfaces like cup holders, windows, and headliners are also cleaned entirely. If a smell has a risk of sticking around even after our service, we provide Odor Bombs for $25 each, which can be released in the car overnight and help eliminate anything that stays by killing and destroying any odor causing baterias.  

While we cannot guarantee the smell will be eliminated, over 90% of the time we are successful in cleaning out the smells after an Interior Detail and almost 100% with Odor Bombs in the worst cases.  

That’s not a claim we are making up either.  Here is a sample of reviews that address bad smells directly to back us up!

What Our Customers are Saying

Richard was a customer who needed lots of help with his new car.  Here is what he told us when our detailers finished the job!

Just purchased a car from a private seller. Definite heavy “kid stains” and a terrible smell that I thought must have been from a dairy spill. Welington and George from Onsite Detail came, spent over 3 hours on the car and did a fantastic job. They took out the spare tire which is stored in the interior under a floor cover and found the source of the smell!! Kids’ food molded over and other unidentified “stuff”. [I]t was ugly… I’m sure it’s probably standard for them to do that, but I’m sure some companies wouldn’t bother cleaning the spare tire compartment. I honestly wouldn’t have looked to check and would have been dealing with that smell still!”  -Richard

Among our most common bad smells are dairy-related ones.  Two reviewers, both named Dan, shared with us how we helped them with their situations.

I had a kid spill a half cup of milk in my car on the floorboard. I went home that night and scrubbed it good with soapy water. A month later a water bottle leaked in the same spot and brought all those sour smells back. I called Onsite Detail and they came to the rescue. The customer service was really great. Andy was very professional and knowledgeable. He cleaned it and now it smells like roses! I’ll definitely be using them again.” -Dan


So my daughter spilled milk in the back of our car and got on a the seat and floorboards. We immediately tried to clean it with a shop vac and wet rag only to find out later it had that horrible sour milk smell. We called Onsite Detail and they were very responsive and came to bail us out. They got the milk and smell out and were very professional to work with. I have used them since and trust them with my vehicles.” -Dan

Even if there isn’t a specific smell, there is a special benefit to having a car smelling nice.  Ashley and Alex show us how happy this makes them in their reviews:

William came to the rescue! My car is exceptionally clean and smelling amazing. He was so sweet and great to work with. I highly recommend Onsite and ask for William! Thanks again” -Ashley


My kids make plenty of spills all over our back seats that are fabric. They were able to clean every spill making it look and smell like a new car again. Thanks again Onsite Detail!” -Alex

In summary, keeping your car smelling clean and fresh is an important part of keeping you and your family and friends happier and healthier.  Our service has helped many people achieve cleaning and eliminating even the worst smells, and we are ready to tackle yours too! Get the nasty odors and smells taken care of before the weather heats up and makes them worse! Call or text us or fill out a request form today.  We look forward to serving you and your vehicle!

by Miranda Hughes, Onsite Detail

Freaky Details

Detailing is not a job for the Faint Hearted

Halloween is just around the corner, and October is a month for frights and all things peculiar.  Some people indulge in haunted houses or horror movies to get their fill of spooky things, and everyone can expect to hear a scary story one way or another.

At Onsite Detail, however, the strange side of things doesn’t end on November 1st.  Cars need to be detailed all year long, and so we’ve experienced freaky things that to this day are fun to share. Here are a few of our favorites!

What’s Living In Your Car?

Rodent in Car

One of our detailers shared a time when they were assigned an Interior Detail.  Upon opening the driver’s side door, they were greeted by a dead mouse. Not just a dead mouse, mind you, but one that had been there long enough to rot and stick to the carpet.  The further they cleaned, the more they found mice, both dead and alive! Yuck! We highly recommend having an exterminator out before hiring any detailer in this case because just cleaning may not fix the problem.

Apparently it’s not too uncommon to find rodents and other creatures living in a vehicle.  Another detailer shared how they have had to deal with cars that had wasp nests. They expressed how it was especially tricky because they weren’t informed of the nest and were therefore ill-equipped to handle it.  The job was done, but only after a few stings.

Not all vehicles with things living in them have been infested, however.  A couple of detailers went to deep clean a boat, but the owner had forgotten to mention a cat lived in it. They had an amusing time working their way around the curious feline.  

Of course, that only accounts for the living critters.  One detailer was sent to do an Interior Detail and Engine Detail. The owner had mentioned the car was not starting and asked if it could be jump started.  Upon opening the hood the problem was found. They pulled out… a dead squirrel that had managed to electrocute itself between the battery posts. The engine worked fine after that.

Oh That’s Gross!

As with all jobs requiring cleaning, there are the nasty jobs that go beyond clutter and a layer of dirt or pet hair.  When I get calls as the main scheduler some people are shy about how dirty their car is and worry we will judge them for it.  So believe me when I say we have seen some disgusting cars, and yours is likely not one of them.

A few weeks ago one detailer was sent to do some Interior Detailing and came back looking horrified.  When we asked how it went he explained how garbage had been forgotten in the car so long maggots had appeared.  Eww!

Another detailer told of when they had to clean chili off the car floor that had been there a long time but remained liquid.  The owner had continued driving the car for awhile so the movement had caused it to spread even to the sliding passenger doors.  The smell and the texture were the worst parts. As he shared, another recalled when he found a rotten watermelon, or what was left of it, in the trunk of the car that had been there for months over a Utah summer.  He said you could smell it from a few yards away!

Cleaning out cup holders can yield interesting results, from forgotten kid’s snacks to spilled drinks.  However, one detailer topped everyone by sharing when he found vomit in a cupholder. I hope he was tipped well for that one!

How Did That Happen?

As much as we tend to prefer normalcy at times, sometimes life just happens and we get unusual human experiences.  Every so often we get a detail job that may seem by-the-book but has a story behind it that makes it memorable.

 come clean a car right away, as his wife had just had her baby inside the car mere hours before!  What made it unfortunate outside of our not being able to schedule it was that he had insisted on driving his nice new car to the hospital instead of their older, more beat-up vehicle.  At least the baby was delivered in style?


One story came not from a detailer, but from our accounting person.  She shared how she got a call from someone asking if we could

A detailer told me once about how he was cleaning a car out as normal for a gentleman who said it was his sister’s car.  Part way through the job, an older woman approached him and asked if he knew what had happened to the driver. When the detailer said no, the woman explained it was her daughter’s, but her daughter had just been murdered a few weeks before.  The detailer explained  that and the job felt much more creepy, but he did his best to make the car especially nice-looking.

gun in car


This one comes from a call I received and partly mentioned in the blog Top 5 Reasons People Get Their Car Detailed.  A client 

called and explained she wanted her car thoroughly cleaned and revealed it had recently been stolen. It felt unsafe for her to drive until she had it cleaned completely.  Thankfully our Full Combo Detail did the job and she was driving in it again by the next day, but knowing it was once a stolen vehicle was scary!

The final story in this category was shared from a detail job we at Onsite Detail didn’t receive, but one of our detailers experienced before working here at a different job.  They were asked to clean a vehicle and to not worry about the middle compartments, as there was a gun in it for drive bys. It was laughed off as a joke until the detailer did in fact lift the middle compartment and found a gun, just as explained.  He said he closed the compartment and left it alone without saying anything else.


Despite the extra-gross or extra-creepy things our detailers have experienced, they come in everyday ready to work and do their best.  When collecting the stories for this blog I made sure to express how much I appreciated what they did, it sure makes my scheduling work seem much nicer!  If you make an appointment with us, don’t you worry if your car is too bad off, because believe me, we have seen it all!

by Miranda Hughes, Onsite Detail

First Time Experience at Mobile Tech Expo

My First Time Experience at Mobile Tech Expo 2018 

By Chris Blaisdell, CD, from Onsite Detail 

Before the Expo I really was not sure what to expect. I had only heard good things about it and was pretty excited to get there and see it for myself.  

DAY 1. Education Day. 

I arrived early and got my badge. I was really looking forward to the International Detailing Association classes and some of the other classes in the detailing category. There were also multiple classes on business in general and digital marketing. The only thing I was a little disappointed about was that I could not be in two (or 3) places at once to hear and be a part of each class in the detailing category. I was really impressed with the spread of knowledge and experiences that were shared. There were topics ranging from proper business setup (legally speaking) to being more efficient in your detailing operation(s) to ceramic coatings, etc. 

If MTE was just the education day it would be worth the trip. I do think some topics were basic but absolutely necessary for every detailer and detailing business owner to know and understand.  

DAY 2. Expo Day 1 

On Saturday morning Renny Doyle was the keynote speaking for the whole show. It was the first time a detailer had been given that honor. His speech was nothing less than motivational. People were talking about it all day. When the Expo hall opened and throughout the day it was a madhouse. Every booth was full of people anxious to see what was new and to ask questions about products and services. It was great but hard to really get the one on one time needed to ask and get information. Although throughout the day I was able to talk with many other detailers and business owners from all over the country. There were guys who were the one man show type and others with multiple shops and employees. 

In the afternoon the IDA put on an incredible webinar and to be there in person was different than just logging in online. There was a panel of experts, or guys with a lot of experience in their respective areas. It was an open forum where we and those online could ask questions and get plenty of great feedback. Afterwords I was able to chat with Renny one on one for a bit and that’s just something that I didn’t expect before going to MTE. 

In the evening the IDA hosted the Annual Business Meeting where we heard the goals for 2018 laid out by Justin LabatoKeith Duplessie gave an awesome state of the industry speech. We heard from many other of the board members (past and present) as well as what the goals are moving forward this year. The 2018 award winners were also announced. Congrats to each of them again! It was awesome to see many members of the IDA together in one room supporting each other and rejoicing in the success of others.  

DAY 3. Expo Day 2 

This was the day when things calmed down a bit and I was able to visit with many people individually and get more info on things one on one. I really enjoyed meeting up with people in the industry and discussing the different aspects of detailing, including products, equipment, business and just where everyone is coming from. Everyone has a story of how they got into detailing and how it has now become a part of their life. Being at the expo with others in the detailing world and other members of the IDA, I really understood the vision of what the IDA stands for and what it is doing for the Industry.  

highly recommend attending the Mobile Tech Expo in 2019. I know I’ll be there. Also join the IDA and see what you can do to help improve our industry and make it better for everyone involved.