How to get a Dead Animal Smell out of Your Car

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Marisol Pereira · Writer · Jan 27, 2021
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    There are many things that can create bad smells in your car, a spilled yogurt, a piece of lunch meat dropped under the seat, the dreaded hockey equipment that has been in your child’s locker for the last six games. But if you’re smelling a particularly bad smell in your vehicle and you can’t find its source in the cabin, its origin might be a dead carcass under your hood.
    It isn’t uncommon for small animals, like mice and rats, to crawl under the hood of cars and hang out by the engine bay for warmth. Problems arise when the car is turned on or the animal simply perishes on its own.
    Animals also have a habit of seeking warmth in your home and then dying in your walls, which is also a particularly miserable experience to rectify. If you’re looking for one piece of good news, cars are a lot easier to air out than entire homes.
    If you have a dead animal carcass under your hood, here’s how to get rid of the dead animal odor.

    Remove the dead animal

    To start chipping away at the smell, you have to remove the source. Put on gloves and a face mask, if you have one laying around, and start your search. Odds are, the dead animal is lodged somewhere under the hood of your car.
    If you can’t find the animal, it’s probably because it is nestled or tangled in your car’s machinery. In fact, you may have to remove some of your car’s mechanisms to access the carcass. If this is the case, it’s advisable to take your car to a professional for dead animal removal so you don’t risk ruining anything under your hood.

    Eliminate the lingering odor

    Once the animal has been removed, the smell is probably less intense, but still lingering. Leaving it to air out while hiding in your house probably won’t do the trick either; the affected area could potentially smell for months. So it’s a good idea to tackle the smell head-on.
    If the animal was found in the hood of the car in a place that was far away from the ventilation system, the odor might not have circulated too much. If that’s the case in your scenario, you can focus on cleaning the parts of the vehicle that had contact with the dead animal. Put on gloves and use a commercial disinfectant or a diluted bleach solution. Once that is done, let the car air out.
    However, if the animal died near the car’s ventilation system, the odor might have spread throughout the car. If this is the case, you will need to clean the whole vehicle by applying a commercial or homemade odor neutralizer, and airing out the car. Possible homemade odor neutralizers include baking soda, activated charcoal, white vinegar, and ground coffee.
    If the smell is still there after you’ve removed the dead animal, disinfected the car, and applied an odor neutralizer — it might be time to get professionals involved. Take your car to a car wash, explain the situation, and request a deep clean.
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