How To Get Rid Of Water Spilled In Car Smell? Useful Tips

The resulting dampness can lead to a musty smell in your vehicle, whether a spilled water bottle, wet clothes, or water tracked in from rain or snow.

This unpleasant odor can be annoying and persistent if not addressed promptly.

Fortunately, there are effective methods to get rid of water spilled in car smell and keep your vehicle interior smelling fresh and clean.

Why Does Water Spill In Car Smell?

water spilled in car smell

Water spilled in an automobile can emit an unpleasant smell due to several reasons:

Water Promotes Bacterial Growth

Water entering a car’s crevices, gaps, or carpets creates a moist environment promoting bacteria growth, mold, and mildew, sometimes leaving a fishy smell.

These microorganisms can produce foul odors as they break down organic matter, leading to a musty stink.

Water Can Seep Into Hard-To-Reach Areas

Water flows and seeps into hidden areas, such as under leather seats, carpet padding, or inside door panels.

If not cleaned and dried properly, the trapped water can cause odors that smell like pee, especially in the AC, to develop over time.

Water Can React With Existing Dirt And Debris

My car seats got wet and smelly. Why? If dirt, debris, or spilled liquids are already in the truck, water can mix with them and create a foul-smelling mixture.

This can happen, for example, when water comes into contact with food particles or spills from beverages, making a breeding ground for odors.

Water Can Cause Rust

If water gets into metal components of a car, such as metal screws, brackets, or fasteners, it can promote rust formation.

Rust can emit an awful smell, contributing to the overall unpleasant odor in the vehicle.

Water Can Damage Electronic Components

Water and electronics don’t mix well.

When liquid seeps into electronic components in an automobile, such as wiring, connectors, or control modules, it can trigger damage and malfunction.

As a result, the affected electronic parts can emit a burnt or electrical smell, worsening the bad scent in the automobile.

Water Can Mix With Spilled Liquids

When water comes into contact with other spilled liquids in the vehicle, like milk, juice, or soda, it can create a mixture emitting a sour smell.

For example, when water is spilled on seats or carpets and is not cleaned and dried properly, it gives off strange odors and a wet smell in car.

How To Get Rid Of Water Spilled In Car Smell?

how to get rid of wet carpet smell in car

How to get rid of water smell in car? 

Odor elimination requires a thorough cleaning, using odor-neutralizing products, baking soda, and an air purifier, and seeking professional cleaning.

By taking prompt action and following these basic steps, you can eliminate the unpleasant odor and enjoy a fresh smell interior once again.

Remove Any Standing Water

If you are dealing with a damp smell from water spilled in your automobile, the first step is to remove any standing water as soon as possible.

When my car got wet inside and stinks, I will find a clean towel, sponge, or a damp/dry vacuum to soak up the water and prevent further moisture buildup.

Remember to thoroughly remove all visible water from floor mats, carpets, upholstery, and other places.

Clean The Affected Area

How to get rid of wet smell in car? Once the standing water has been removed, cleaning the affected area carefully is important.

You should use a mild detergent or an automotive interior cleaner to wash the surface, paying special attention to the spots where the water was spilled.

Also, I recommend you use a soft brush or cloth to gently scrub the surface and eliminate any dirt, debris, or residue left by the water.

Use Baking Soda

What to do when the inside of car got wet and smells? Baking soda is known for its ability to absorb odors.

After cleaning the affected area, sprinkle generous cleaning supplies over the surface.

Let it sit for an extended period or overnight to allow the product to absorb any remaining moisture and neutralize bad odors.

Then, vacuum up the baking soda using a vacuum cleaner with a clean filter.

Use An Odor-Neutralizing Spray

How to get rid of wet car smell? There are various odor-neutralizing sprays available in the market that are specifically designed for the job.

You should look for a safe cleaning product for automotive use and follow the instructions on the label.

Be sure to spray the affected spots and any other places where the scent may have spread, such as air vents, floor mats, and upholstery.

For the best result, I often leave the car windows open for proper ventilation and let the spray work to neutralize the odors.

Use An Air Purifier

Investing in an automotive air purifier can help eliminate odors from the air inside the vehicle.

Look for an air purifier with a built-in odor-neutralizing feature and filters that capture dust, pollen, and pet dander.

When my car carpet is wet and smells, I usually place the air purifier in my car and let it run for a few hours to help freshen the air and get rid of any lingering odors.

Professional Cleaning

If your efforts to deodorize are unsuccessful, consider hiring a cleaning service.

Professional upholstery or car detailing services can completely clean the afflicted surfaces and put an end to any stubborn residual scents.

How To Avoid Further Water Spilled In Car Smell?

spilled water in car now smells

After you have learned how to get wet smell out of car, let’s discover further actions you can do to avoid the problem in the future:

Use Spill-Proof Containers

Using spill-proof containers prevents leaks and spills when carrying liquids in your automobile, like beverages or cleaning supplies.

I usually look for containers with tight-fitting lids or caps and avoid using open or loosely sealed containers that can easily spill.

Secure Your Containers

Make sure all containers are securely placed and properly sealed to prevent them from rolling or tipping over during transportation.

You can use cup holders, bottle holders, or other secure compartments in your car to hold the containers in place and minimize the risk of spills.

Check For Leaks

Regularly check containers for leaks or signs of damage. If you find any cracks or leaks in the containers, replace them immediately to prevent spills in your truck.

Also, pay attention to containers that may have been damaged during transit or storage, and replace them as needed.

Clean Up Spills Immediately

If a spill occurs in your vehicle, clean it up immediately to prevent the water from seeping into hard-to-reach areas and causing lingering odors.

When I spilled water in my car and it smells, I often use a clean towel or absorbent cloth to blot the spilled water and dry the affected place as much as possible.

Then, follow up with a thorough cleaning using a mild detergent or an automotive interior cleaner to erase any residue.

Keep Your Car Dry

Regularly check your truck for any signs of moisture buildup, such as window condensation or wet spots.

If you notice any regions that are consistently damp, address the issue promptly by identifying and fixing the source of the moisture, such as a leaky window or sunroof.


Can I Use Household Cleaning Products To Clean The Car Interior?

No. Using household cleaning supplies on your automobile’s interior is not advised since they could include abrasive chemicals that harm surfaces.

To avoid damage or odors, refer to automotive-specific cleansers safe for automobile interiors, according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, and test on a small space first.

Can Air Fresheners Get Rid Of The Smell Of Water Spilled In Cars?

Yes. The scent left behind by water spills in a car can be temporarily eliminated by using air fresheners, but they might not be a long-term fix.

It’s crucial to address the smell’s cause immediately by removing any standing water, cleaning the area, and employing odor-neutralizing techniques like baking soda, air purifiers, or expert cleaning.


Water spills can result in musty odors that can linger and make your vehicle’s interior uncomfortable.

Fortunately, by following the cleaning tips and tricks I have mentioned in this article, you can effectively solve the water spilled in car smell.

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