How to Remove Musty Car Smell Using Car Disinfection and Sanitisation

How to Remove Musty Car Smell Using Car Disinfection and Sanitisation

Lambency Detailing

When you enter your car, the first thing you will notice is the smell. It can smell fresh and clean like it just came out of the showroom or your favourite air freshener. As a result, you get compliments about the pleasant smell of your car.

However, that pleasant smell can diminish over time, leaving your car smelling stale and musty while causing you to have multiple nose-scrunching episodes. It can also make your car interior appear unpleasant. So how do you get rid of the musty car smell?

If you thought of adding an air freshener, know that this will not be enough because the scent will escape whenever you open the doors or windows. The best way for you to remove musty car smells is by opting for a car interior detailing service in Singapore.

Having said that, let’s take a look at the common causes of car odours and how you can disinfect and sanitise your car to remove the musty smell. On top of that, we include the dos and don’ts before disinfecting your car.

Common Causes of Car Odours 

While the upholstery and carpets are generally areas that harbour unpleasant smells in your car, the door panels, mats, and other hard and semi-soft surfaces are also to blame for the bad smell. Here are some of the common causes of car odours:

1. Mould and mildew

Mould and mildew odours are common with Singapore’s tropical climate as the hot and humid weather can provide a suitable growing environment in your car for microorganisms such as fungi.

Since mould typically lives in porous materials like leather, foam, felt, and paper, while mildew can grow on non-porous surfaces such as vinyl and plastic, you will need to conduct a deep clean of your car interior to remove the musty smell.

2. Cigarette smoke

Cigarette smoke is one of the strongest and hardest odours to remove in any car interior because it penetrates the upholstery, carpet, hard surfaces and infiltrates the air conditioning system.

On top of that, smoking leaves behind tar, which is a sticky substance. You will need to wipe down the interior panels as well as steam clean the upholstery to completely get rid of the smoke smell.

3. Spilled food and drink

If you often eat in your car, the likelihood of your car interior having traces of food residues and spilled drink are high. Besides, condensation can occur with both hot and cold drinks, leaving water marks around your drink holders.

Over time, these residues can cause a bad smell to develop, giving your car interior an acrid smell and appear unpleasant. Hence, the need for a regular car interior cleaning.

4. Air conditioning system

Every car is equipped with an air conditioning system that keeps us cool during the hot weather. When the system is in use, the evaporator is inherently wet as it forces water out of the air, which drips through a tube outside your car.

However, when the drain tube is clogged, the water might leak into your car, soaking the carpets. If your air conditioning system is left in the recirculate mode, the evaporator may not dry completely, causing mildew to grow on it and in the air box.

Car Disinfection and Sanitisation Guide 

The best way to get rid of the musty smells in your car is to detail the entire cabin thoroughly. This includes vacuuming all the surfaces in your car before you start cleaning and disinfecting it using various methods. Here’s a guide for you when it comes to detailing your car.

1. Vacuum every surface before starting

Before you start cleaning and disinfecting every surface of your car’s cabin, you will need to vacuum every nook and cranny to get rid of odour-causing debris. Use a tool that allows you to reach into the crevices and openings such as a brush. If you don’t remove all sources of odour, musty smells can reappear quickly.

2. Use soap and water or alcohol solutions

Household cleaning products may be effective at killing germs and bacteria but they can damage your car’s upholstery and leather. Instead, use soap and water or alcohol solutions to wipe the various surfaces. Avoid over-saturating your upholstery or leather because water can seep into the cushion and cause mould to grow.

3. Steam clean your car

Steam cleaning your car’s cabin is the most efficient way to remove musty car smells and freshen the interior. The powerful steam emission with high-temperature steam, powerful nozzles and highly heated cleaning cloths ensure that the steam eliminates 99.99% of all common bacteria on your car’s surface.

4. Opt for a self-disinfecting coating

Car interior detailing services in Singapore like Lambency Detailing exists for a reason – to give your car a deep clean. After all, their SONAX Signature Interior Detailing involves applying Self-Disinfecting Coating (Anti-Microbial) to prevent fungi and moulds from growing in your car.

5. Don’t forget to clean the engine bay

If you assumed that cleaning your car interior is enough to remove the musty smells, the engine bay can also cause bad odours due to dirt and grime build-up. These smells can migrate to the cabin through your air conditioning system. So, don’t forget to clean the engine bay and finish by wiping it down with a microfiber cloth.

Do’s and Don’ts Before Sanitising Your Car  

To ensure that your car no longer has that musty smell after a car interior detailing, you will need to heed the following do’s and don’ts before it undergoes all the disinfection and sanitation process.


1. Remove all the trash in your car to make it easier for you to clean the interiors.

2. Regularly clean common touchpoints such as the steering wheel, door handles, seat belts and buckles, keys and fobs, window button, radio, etc.

3. Use wet wipes to remove dust and dirt from the surfaces.


1. Eat in the car because the smallest particles left in your car can become a breeding ground for bacterial growth.

2. Use any kind of household cleaning products as they can damage the vinyl and plastic surfaces in your car.

3. Keep large bottles of hand sanitiser in your car as high temperatures can cause the alcohol to boil, causing the bottle to expand.

Get your car professionally cleaned at Lambency Detailing  

Providing your car with regular disinfection and sanitisation is your best bet at reducing musty smells in your car. If you’re looking for professional car interior detailing in Singapore, Lambency Detailing is a one-stop automotive centre for all your car needs.

We offer comprehensive car interior detailing services that use only 100% genuine SONAX products from Germany to ensure the quality of your car’s surface.

Find out more about Lambency Detailing’s different products and services. Book an appointment with us to get your car interior detailing now! WhatsApp: (65) 9658 5808 Email: lambency@quantum-globe.com

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