You’re living the dream: you’ve got a summer job running pizzas all across town. You’re a hero to your friends, savior to many late night snackers, and the first highlight of the night for many families getting ready for their weekly movie. The only problem is that now every time you land a match on Tinder, you’re worried about the odiferous state of your vehicle. How do you get rid of the pizza smell?!
Lucky for you, pizza odor in your car isn’t a death sentence. It may not always have a permanent fix when you’re five minutes away from picking someone up—but that’s what aerosol scented sprays are for! When you’ve got the time after a long week of work, and you’re trying to freshen things up, we’ve got the list of all the remedies you need to get that cheesy, saucy smell out the door.
Try any one or more of these helpful tips and you’re sure be smelling that non-pizza fresh scent again in no time. If something doesn’t work the first time around, you may just need to hit it a little harder. When you deliver that many pizza’s, the lingering effects can be more than you bargained for.
Vacuum + Wipe
Start with the vacuum and wipe combo. The reality is that much of what you’re smelling isn’t just some ghost of pizzas past, but rather the stains of grease, dried pepperoni slices and lingering cheese that somehow escaped the box and carrier.
But it’s OK, not all is lost. However gross it may seem, it’s not something that a little bit of wiping and vacuuming can’t fix.
Start with a brush. That’s going to comb through all of the fuzzy upholstery and carpeting that’s trapping some of those dried signs of employment. Once you’ve done a rough once-over of the car, you’ll have a much easier time vacuuming up any undercover culprits who were hiding the odious powers in the dark.
Now go through with the vacuum. This should get the remaining pieces off of the seats and carpet, leaving you with at worst, some lingering grease and smell. That’s when you come in with the wipe.
You may have a chemical of choice, but if you’re afraid of the lingering effects of typical cleaning products, you can also try a combination of water and vinegar. It may not at first seem like a more pleasant alternative, but it’s a great way to lift up that lingering stench.
Afterwards, you can pop in an air freshener, waft out the windows, and have your old familiar car-smell back again.
If this job calls for a little bit more firepower, then you may need the big guns of baking soda. If you’re a little skeptical, go take a look at your mother’s refrigerator. You’ll probably find a semi-open box of the stuff lingering somewhere in the back.
No, that’s not because she has to bake something cold later—that’s actually been absorbing all of the odors in the fridge so that your deli meats don’t smell like dairy. Come to think of it, that’s probably why your college fridge was always so disgusting.
Here’s the trick with baking soda: first, make sure that your car is totally dry. If you tried to wipe down the seats or carpeting and it’s wet, that could hurt you here, because it will cause the baking soda to clump. Once everything is dry, sprinkle baking soda on your seats and carpets, and let it sit for a few hours.
Come back, and hit everything with the vacuum. Hopefully during the hours that you were gone, the baking soda absorbed pretty much all of the stench. The vacuum is just to keep yourself from looking like Tony Montana after every car ride after.
If the last one is taking a page out of mom’s playbook, this one goes out to all of the BBQ-lovin’, bad-joke-tellin’, dad-bod-havin’ dads out there. It’s a surprising helpful tip that you’ll doubt right up until the second it works. It’s essentially the same play as the baking soda, but with different ingredients. Classic dad.
Take some charcoal briquettes, probably from the bag you were going to use for Saturday’s barbeque, and stick them in your car (if you are worried about getting the upholstery super dirty, you can always put them in a tray or dish—as you can also do with the baking soda). Let them sit for a few hours, or even overnight, and by morning they should have absorbed much of the smell.
Now your car just smells like summer.
Coffee Can/Tea Bags
This last one is definitely the Hail Mary of the group—but desperate times call for desperate measures, and it’s never stopped you before. It turns out that ground coffee can be a great fix in a tight pinch. The good news is it doesn’t have to be that hipster stuff your roommate is always trying to push on you, either.
Just grab a can of grocery store ground coffee, and let it sit in your car overnight. Alternatively you can hang several tea bags around the car. Both act as absorbing agents.
Whatever your smelly problem, take heart: there is a solution. Keep fighting until you find it. It will save you when the time comes to leave your boxes behind.