Maintenance Tips, Tricks And Hacks For Your Vehicle

How Can I Make My Cabin Air Filter Smell Better? (Answered!)




Your car’s cabin air filter is responsible for filtering out dust, pollen, and other particles from the air that circulates inside your vehicle. If this filter becomes clogged, it can lead to decreased airflow and an unpleasant odor.

In this blog post, we’ll offer some simple solutions on how to make your cabin air filter smell better using just a few tricks!

Key Takeaway

  • To make your cabin air filter smell better, you can use a dry spray air freshener like Febreze, which can be sprayed directly onto the filter to eliminate odors and keep it smelling fresh.
  • A cabin air filter is a component in vehicles that purifies the air coming into the interior through the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, trapping dust, pollen, and other particles to improve air quality and protect the HVAC system.

What Is a Cabin Air Filter?

A cabin air filter is a crucial component in most modern vehicles that cleans the air that comes into the interior of the car through the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system.

It works to trap dust, pollen, and other foreign particles, preventing them from entering the vehicle and keeping the air inside your car clean and healthy.

The filter can also prevent allergens, smog, and even exhaust fumes from entering the cabin, which is particularly beneficial for passengers with respiratory issues or allergies.

In addition to improving air quality, a cabin air filter also helps protect the vehicle’s HVAC system by preventing debris from clogging its components.

How Can I Make My Cabin Air Filter Smell Better?

You can make your cabin air filter smell better by spraying it with a non-oil-based air freshener like Febreze or placing an air freshener on top of the air filter.

Here is how to do it:

1. Required materials

  • Pin or paper clip
  • Car air freshener
  • New cabin air filter (optional)

2. Locate the cabin air filter

How Can I Make My Cabin Air Filter Smell Better?

The cabin air filter for your vehicle’s cabin air filter can be found in the glovebox on the passenger side, below and to the right of the steering wheel. This rectangular black box measures six inches wide by four inches tall.

To open the glovebox, pull on the lever above. Inside there are several compartments – one for your owner’s manual, another for maps, and another for cabin air filters.

3. Detach the hinges that hold the glove box door

How Can I Make My Cabin Air Filter Smell Better?

Most cars have hinges at the bottom of the door that must be released before they can be pulled out. You can open these with a screwdriver or do it manually with your fingers.

After doing so, the glove box compartment door will drop all the way down and give you access to remove the cabin air filter.

4. Pull out the cabin air filter

How Can I Make My Cabin Air Filter Smell Better?

On some vehicles, the cabin air filter may be secured in place with clips. To free it, pop up the clips and remove the air filter.

Depending on how dirty your filter is, you have two options: wash it in warm water with baking soda or replace it with a new one – the choice is yours!

5. Attach the air freshener to the cabin air filter

How Can I Make My Cabin Air Filter Smell Better

Once you’ve cleaned or replaced the cabin air filter, it’s time to attach the air freshener. Since air will pass through it, it’s best if you secure it in place with either a pin or paper clip on multiple sides of the air freshener.

Before reinstalling the cabin air filter, test its stability by moving it up and down several times.

6. Adjust the intensity of the smell

Some air fresheners can be too strong, but you don’t need to worry. You have two options: leave it in its bag for slow dispersion of smell, or cut it in half before installing.

Whatever works for you best. As a starting point, try using an entire air freshener and assess if its intensity is acceptable before making any decisions.

Note: If you leave the air freshener in a bag it will last for about five months. If you open it, it will last for about a good three months says E46Fanatics.

7. Reinstall the cabin air filter

Reinstall the cabin air filter by placing it in its plastic frame and sliding it back into the glove box compartment. Don’t forget to reattach the hinges of the compartment door as well.

Cabin air filters typically last 12-24 months while air fresheners only last three to five months. Just be careful when attaching pins or paper clips so as not to damage the filter itself. Now your cabin should smell much fresher!

(See also: How To Clean Your Car AC Filter At Home (With Pictures))

Why Does My Cabin Air Filter Smell Bad?

A cabin air filter may smell bad due to the accumulation of dust, dirt, and other contaminants, or the growth of mold or mildew on it, especially when exposed to moisture, and in some cases, an excessively contaminated filter or a new filter with a bad odor can also contribute to the unpleasant smell.

If the bad smell persists even after replacing the filter, the problem might be mold or mildew in the car’s ventilation system itself.

Can You Put Essential Oils On a Cabin Air Filter?

Yes, adding essential oils to a cabin air filter can have many beneficial effects such as improving air quality and relieving stress. However, it’s best to only use essential oils during summer months due to the potential damage they could do to their properties in cold temperatures.

Essential oils should be stored cold or at room temperature. When you first open the bottle of oil, you might notice a strong scent; this is because the oil is evaporating and its pure form has more potency. As time passes and more diffuses into the air, however, that initial intensity will fade away as you use it more regularly.

Some people like to put a few drops of oil onto a tissue and place it near their vents, while others prefer adding drops directly into their car’s air filter.

As a general guideline, start with five drops and adjust according to desired aroma intensity. Too many drops could overpower the essential oil’s aroma while too few may not produce enough of an effect.

There are many benefits of using essential oils on cabin air filters. Some of the reasons include:

  • Essential oils can help to purify the air and remove harmful toxins.
  • They can help to kill bacteria and viruses and neutralize any unpleasant odors.
  • They can also help to improve your respiratory health and provide relief from congestion, allergies, and asthma.

So if you want to breathe clean, healthy air while you’re on your next vacation, be sure to add some essential oils to your cabin air filter!

Can You Spray Febreeze On The Cabin Air Filter?

Yes, you can spray Febreeze on a cabin air filter to keep it fresh and clean. As an effective odor eliminator, Febreze will eliminate any unpleasant odors trapped within the filter. Furthermore, using Febreze helps keep filters free of dust and dirt accumulation.

If your car has a built-in cabin air filter, make sure to spray it with Febreeze periodically. And if not, you can buy and install one yourself; cabin air filters are an effective way to keep the air inside your car clean and fresh. So if you want to ensure the air in your automobile stays fresh, be sure to spray Febreeze onto its filter!

Febreeze can also help eliminate smoke smells or pet smells in your cabin air filter. If you have a smoker in the family or pets, spraying Febreeze on the cabin air filter can help eliminate those unpleasant odors. Plus, since Febreeze acts as a deodorizer, it will eliminate any other unpleasant odors present in the car.

How often you should apply Febreeze depends on the size and shape of your cabin air filter. For small filters, we suggest spraying with Febreeze every time you vacuum; while larger ones need only apply once every other vacuum cycle.

If your cabin air filter is particularly dirty, we suggest spraying it twice with Febreeze before vacuuming it. Be sure to let the Febreeze dry completely before replacing the filter in your car.

Can You Put Dryer Sheets In The Cabin Air Filter?

No, dryer sheets contain perfumes and chemicals that can be hazardous to your health. Plus, the dryer sheets clog up filters in order to restrict airflow.

Plus, their perfumes linger in the cabin, giving you a headache–which is why fabric softener sheets should always be used instead of dryer sheets when drying clothes.

Fabric softener sheets contain safer ingredients that won’t clog up filters; plus, their perfume won’t linger inside your cabin either.

Dryer sheets contain hazardous chemicals like benzene and chloroform, which can lead to respiratory problems, skin irritation and cancer.

When you place a dryer sheet into the cabin air filter of an automobile, these fumes from the sheet are released into the atmosphere – meaning you breathe them in!

Therefore it’s best to avoid using dryer sheets whenever possible.

If you want to give your car a pleasant aroma, add some essential oil to a tissue and place it in the cupholder. Not only will this provide an all-natural scent to your ride, but it’s free from harmful chemicals as well.

There are better solutions that will keep your air clean and free of static.

One option is to apply fabric softener on a cloth and wipe down the cabin air filter with it.

If you don’t have access to a fabric air softener, you can also try mixing one part vinegar with three parts water for an effective solution.

Be sure to thoroughly rinse the filter after using any of these methods.


Q: How do I know if my cabin air filter needs to be replaced?

A: Signs that your cabin air filter needs to be replaced may include a musty odor in the cabin, reduced airflow from the vents, or increased allergy symptoms while driving.

Q: Can I clean my cabin air filter instead of replacing it?

A: While it may be possible to clean a cabin air filter in some cases, it is generally recommended to replace it as cleaning may not effectively remove all contaminants and may not restore its optimal performance.

Q: How often should I replace my cabin air filter?

A: It is recommended to replace your cabin air filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles or once a year, depending on your driving conditions and the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Q: Can a cabin air filter improve the smell of my car?

A: Yes, a fresh and clean cabin air filter can help improve the smell of your car by removing odors and filtering out pollutants that contribute to unpleasant odors.

Q: What are some tips to make my cabin air filter smell better?

A: Some tips to make your cabin air filter smell better include using an air freshener specifically designed for cars, keeping your vehicle clean and free from food or other odorous items, and periodically running the HVAC system with the windows open to ventilate the cabin.

Q: Can I use an activated carbon cabin air filter to eliminate odors?

A: Yes, activated carbon cabin air filters are designed to absorb odors and can be effective in reducing unpleasant smells in the cabin of your vehicle.

Q: Can I change my cabin air filter myself?

A: Yes, changing a cabin air filter is generally a simple task that can be done by following the instructions provided in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. However, if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, a professional technician can easily replace it for you.

Q: Will a cabin air filter affect the performance of my HVAC system?

A: A clean and properly functioning cabin air filter allows for better airflow and helps maintain the performance of your HVAC system. A clogged or dirty filter can restrict airflow and negatively impact the efficiency of the system.

In Conclusion

The idea of cleaning and freshening your car’s cabin air filter may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.

Following the steps outlined above will help ensure that you get the best results possible in terms of eliminating odors from your vehicle’s interior.



Vide Polowenski, Senior Mechanic

The information in this article is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest mechanic SOPs.

Please take the time to leave a comment if this article has helped you in any way, you need additional help, or you have a suggestion.

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