The Easiest Way to Get Rid of the Musty Smell Coming From Your Car’s AC

The Easiest Way to Get Rid of the Musty Smell Coming From Your Car’s AC

When the weather gets warm, and you switch on the air conditioning in your car, you may find that in addition to the cool breeze, you’re also hit with a strong, musty smell. Fortunately, banishing that odour is a relatively straightforward task. Here’s what to know.

Why your car’s air conditioning smells musty

So where is this musty odour coming from?

“What you’re probably smelling is the condensation that comes from the evaporator inside your heating and cooling system,” says Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ senior director of auto testing. “Basically, water collects in that area and, if it sits long enough, creates the musty smell.”

The stench may also be coming from built-up dust and bacteria in your cabin air filter.

How to get rid of the musty smell

Here’s how to take care of that musty odour, according to automotive experts at Consumer Reports:

  1. Open the windows of the vehicle.
  2. Switch on the car’s interior fan, and put it on the low setting.
  3. Remove your cabin air filter.
  4. Spray household or automotive disinfectant into both sides of the air intake vent, which is located at the base of your car’s windshield, where the wipers are attached.
  5. Leave the fan running and keep the windows open. This will give the disinfectant a chance to kill the bacteria causing the musty odour.
  6. Take a look at your cabin air filter before you put it back in. If it looks dirty or dusty, this would be a good time to replace it with a new one. This previous Lifehacker post walks you through that process.

Once your vents are clean, you can help prevent the moisture from coming back by switching the AC off for the last few minutes of your trip, and turning the fan on instead.

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