Some people are used to (and don't mind) their own stink. Take my Dad, for example, whose Nissan emitted a bouquet of cigar smoke and manliness. Everyone else, whether carpool pals, children or spouses, not so much.

Olfaction is one of our strongest senses, so it's no wonder we tend to pick up scents in vehicles and form a value judgment (people even go so far as to try to recreate the "new car smell" with artificial fresheners).

If you want to get the inside of your car smelling like a car instead of a locker room and don't feel like springing for a pro job, here are a few hints to quickly de-funk your interior, and/or keep it fresh-smelling:

Vacuum -- Even The Ceiling

Drivers should vacuum their cars at least once per month. Vacuuming gets the obvious dirt, hair, and soda straw wrappers off your floor, but it also yanks odors from the rugs, so be thorough. Inside tip: don't forget the ceiling. The laws of gravity still apply to the inside of your ride: tobacco smoke, soot and other foul-smelling toxins can embed themselves in the headliner of your car. Make sure to give it a once (or twice) over. But be careful: If you're working on an old car that's already showing signs of decay in the headliner area, you might want to skip the vacuuming up top; you don't want to create more problems in the service of cleanliness.

Air Fresheners Don't Work Alone

Forget the Christmas tree hanging from the rear view mirror. That's like dabbing your pits with cologne after two hours of playing hoops. The fresh pine smell combined with an old bag of McDonalds under the seat isn't fooling anyone. For nasty smells, use an odor eliminator once in a while (such as Febreze or Glade). These eliminators -- better described as "odor catchers" -- actually chemically mix with bad odors and lock them down.

I Forgot To Add The Fabric Softener!

More than keeping your clothes wrinkle-free, fabric softener sheets are some of the best air fresheners you can use (and they're incredibly cheap, too). One strategically-placed fabric sheet under the seat your child usually sits in will help absorb some nasty smells and cast out an evergreen freshness. Just don't use them in lieu of cleaning.

Dirty Plastics Contain Odor

Stink adheres to your steering wheel, handles and upholstery of your doors and every other interior surface. For cleaning these surfaces, Windex can be used in a pinch on most cars. Many drivers use the substance to clean down their dashboard, steering wheel, and center console. Just spray solution onto a rag or paper towel -- do not spray directly on surfaces -- and wipe it all, being careful around the electronics, naturally. Be careful to test Windex in a small area before using it all over your dashboard (check with your dealer for recommended cleaners, or even model-specific cleaners if they're available).

Skunk Smells Go Away With ... Mustard

Got skunk-funk? A little-known solution is to combat it with mustard and warm water. If you've recently smacked Pepe Le Pew or his cologne is otherwise clinging to the inside of your cockpit, pour a cup of dry mustard into a bucket of warm water, mix it up and splash it on the tires, wheels and, where you can reach, the underbody of your car. Fill a spray bottle with the last of the solution and spritz that around, too. Those outside components are the source of lingering skunk -- the nasty, sulfur-like chemical bath -- and if you neutralize them, their scent will stop sending the offending smell into your car's interior. This one may take a couple of tries before you get it all.

Keep 'Em Dry

How do your sneakers smell after you wear them in the rain with no socks? Exactly. Continuous use of wet floor mats without any cleaning will produce some serious funk (some owners buy all-weather mats for the winter -- just make sure they are the right fit for your car before you use them in action). Make sure to clean your floor mats more often during the rain or snow seasons. For special instances where all hell breaks loose and you've dumped that Big Gulp all over the interior, soak up what you can with paper towels or rags as soon as possible and use the big vacuum at the car wash to suck up the last bits of moisture. The sooner you absorb, the sooner you can catch the Dr. Pepper from living in your car for good.
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