How do you clean smelly car vents?

My commute to work each way is about 30 minutes, but I don’t normally mind the drive. However, my car has recently been inundated with a musty, gross smell when I turn on the heat or air conditioning, and it’s starting to get unbearable. How can I clean my smelly car vents?

Sitting in a smelly car when commuting is the worst! Luckily, getting rid of the smell coming from your car’s vents is easy. You basically only need some spray disinfectant and a few minutes of free time.
What you’re smelling is likely caused by some bacteria or mold that has built up in your vehicle’s heating and cooling system. It’s a somewhat common issue, so don’t think you’ve done anything to cause the problem. Once you have a disinfectant spray like Lysol or an auto air conditioner cleaner, follow these steps:
  • Turn the car’s fan setting to high and open the windows
  • Find your car’s HVAC system’s air intake vent located by the base of your windshield on the outside of the vehicle
  • Spray a generous amount of the disinfectant into both sides of the intake vent and let it work through the HVAC system
  • Allow the fans to run for a few minutes and repeat if necessary
The disinfectant will kill the bacteria and mold growing in the heating and cooling system and, hopefully, eliminate the smell. If the smell lingers, use an odor eliminator on the interior fabric and replace your cabin air filter as a backup plan.
To make the most of the time spent waiting for the car to air out, download the Jerry app.
Jerry is the easiest and most effective way to find a car insurance policy that is customized for you. After providing you with a comprehensive cross-analysis of the best policies across providers, Jerry will handle the phone calls, paperwork, and renewals so that you don’t have to.
Jack Walsh
Answered on Nov 15, 2021

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