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9 Effective Ways to Get Rid of the Fish Smell in Your Car

9 Effective Ways to Get Rid of the Fish Smell in Your Car

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Some smells can linger a lot more than others. We’re all looking at you, fish smell. Unfortunately, we all had to deal with the fish smell at one point.

It gets even worse if your car smells like fish because what’s worse than having a fish smell is having it chase you as you drive!

Perhaps you caught some fish and placed them in your car or you might have bought seafood and had some spill in your car at some point.

The reason doesn’t matter, but what matters is that you need to get rid of this smell as quickly as possible. 

In this article, we’ll show you eight different methods to get rid of the fish smell in your car. 

After you’re done cleaning, you may have the smell on your hands, so check my article on how to get the fish smell off of your hands.

1 – Find the Source

Most options we’ll mention in this article won’t completely solve the problem until you know why the smell appeared, to begin with.

For example, you can fill your car with a fragrant smell and air it out every day. However, if you don’t find the spill or the reason for the fish smell, the problem will persist.

2 – Take Care of Your Spill Fast

Pile Of Fresh Morning Newspapers On The Table At The Office

You found the source; it’s a spill!

If you spill some seafood in your car, you should address it quickly. 

Allowing the spill to go unchecked will lead to various problems, and it will become much more challenging to eliminate the odor completely.

If you notice the spill as it happens, you should try to prevent your car’s fabric from absorbing it. If not completely, then at least partially.

You should try to wipe up the spill and then do something to absorb it if you can.

One good option is to make use of newspapers or some old rags that you have sitting around. Cover up the spill and see and blot the spill to absorb as much liquid as possible. 

Newspapers work nicely because they’re going to absorb things well, so you might want to try to go the newspaper route. Just don’t scrub to avoid speeding up the absorption process by accident. 

3 – Cleaning with Soapy Water

Cleaning your car out with soapy water could be a good idea when you’re trying to eliminate fish smells. This is especially true if the spill just happened and you’re trying to take care of things before they get worse.

It’s important to understand that introducing soap should be done after you’ve absorbed as much liquid as possible using an old rag or a newspaper. Once you do that, you’ll acquire your car’s permission to start scrubbing!

Scrub the area with the fish smell using soapy water to get things cleaned up. A good example of soapy water is dish soap. Mix the soap with warm water to make it less viscous, then use a soft brush to scrub. 

You don’t have to scrub super hard if you’re worried about hurting the carpet, so feel free to be gentle.

If you happen to own a wet-dry vacuum, you could suck up the water and then clean things again. Keep doing this until you’re satisfied with the results.

4 – Use a Water and Vinegar Mixture

Bottle Labeled Vinegar Sitting On Sink

The smell doesn’t go away with soapy water? It’s time to call in the cavalry.

Vinegar is exceptionally effective in dealing with bad smells. Vinegar is a type of natural odor-absorbing cleaner that can work wonders.

It should allow you to get deep into the fibers of your carpeting so that you can get rid of the fish smell. Just make sure not to use it concentrated, or you’ll replace the fish smell with a vinegar smell.

Mix one cup of vinegar with two quarts of water, then use a brush or an old rag to scrub the fishy area. 

5 – Baking Soda Can Also Help

It’s always going to be wise to keep some baking soda around to help you handle little problems like this. You can go ahead and sprinkle some in your car wherever you think it is needed, not just for the fish smell. 

Determine which areas of your car are smelling fishy and then use the baking soda to try to eliminate those odors. However, just like soapy water, you should absorb as much of the spill first.

Much like vinegar, it’s remarkable how well baking soda neutralizes odors. It’s going to work nicely to eliminate any lingering fish smells that you are dealing with.

Extra information: It’s good to know that you can also use a combination of vinegar and baking soda to clean your grill after you’re done cooking your fish.

6 – Air Out Your Car

Car Door Opened Outdoors

Whenever a bad smell is present, allowing it to leave by opening the windows is always a good idea. This applies to your house, office, car, and anything that has windows.

Airing out your car is probably going to be a good idea when you’re dealing with a problem like this. The fish smell might linger longer than you would like if you keep things contained in the car.

Go ahead and roll down those windows. Doing so while driving will be even more helpful to refresh the air in the car. 

Of course, this is going to work much better if the weather is appropriate for it. Hot weather can make the fish smell worse when you don’t have the windows down, especially if the car is parked. 

Over time, your car should smell much nicer from being aired out like this. Fish smells are known for lingering, but airing your car out does make quite a difference.

However, airing out your car is more of a temporary solution than a permanent one. It’s best to find the spill and clean it as soon as possible to get rid of the smell for good.

7 – Use Odor Neutralizing Cleaning Products

If you want to use a more specific cleaner for your car than soapy water and baking soda, air fresheners might be a good option. It’s also an effective solution if you don’t like the smell of vinegar. 

There are odor-neutralizing cleaning products that you can purchase from the store such as Febreeze that will take smells away swiftly. 

You can find products with pleasant scents or you can go with something that doesn’t have a scent at all.

Either way, these products are going to be easy to use. You just spray the product on the area of your car carpeting that smells like fish and it takes away the odor.

For the most part, these cleaning products work well to eliminate fishy smells, but it might take several applications over time if you have a particularly bad problem.

The only real downside to this method is that you will have to pay for the product. Fortunately, you’ll find that most of these odor-neutralizing sprays are not all that expensive.

8 – Get Your Car Professionally Cleaned

Male Worker Cleaning Carpets Of Car

If you want to use a more specific cleaner for your car than soapy water and baking soda, air fresheners might be a good option. It’s also an effective solution if you don’t like the smell of vinegar. 

There are odor-neutralizing cleaning products that you can purchase from the store such as Febreeze that will take smells away swiftly. 

You can find products with pleasant scents or you can go with something that doesn’t have a scent at all.

Either way, these products are going to be easy to use. You just spray the product on the area of your car carpeting that smells like fish and it takes away the odor.

For the most part, these cleaning products work well to eliminate fishy smells, but it might take several applications over time if you have a particularly bad problem.

The only real downside to this method is that you will have to pay for the product. Fortunately, you’ll find that most of these odor-neutralizing sprays are not all that expensive.

9 – Get Your Car Professionally Cleaned

You’ve tried it all. You did your best. The fish smell won. You stand there defeated. It’s time to get more parties involved in this war. It’s time to go to the professionals!

If all fails, you could just consider taking your car to get it professionally cleaned. There are all sorts of car detail shops that will be happy to help you with your fish problem. 

Generally, these professionals will shampoo your carpets and take care of the fish smell expediently. You won’t only get rid of the fish smell but also replace it with the fresh smell of cleaners. 

The only negative aspect of professional cleaning is that you have to pay to get it done.

Try to find a respectable company that is going to give you a good deal while also doing a stellar job. If you’re able to do this, you should be able to walk away from this situation feeling happy.

Start Using Your Car Again

Now, you should be able to start using your car again without having to be afraid of that awful fish smell.

In the future, it’s likely going to be important to be more careful when you’re transporting fish or some type of meal with fish in it. You don’t want to spill things like that in your car, but at least you know how to handle things if the worst does happen.

Dealing with a fish smell in your car doesn’t have to be an onerous process if you take the time to read the recommendations above.

You have many options to fix things, and you might want to utilize several of these methods to get the best results. You can eliminate that fish smell, and your car will be back to smelling fantastic again.

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