Free Your Car of Toxic Chemicals with the Summer Sun

Over the years in my consulting work, I have had people contact me because they were getting sick from new car smells, used cars that had been detailed, used cars with car air fresheners, and used cars with smoke smells.  Most of my clients react to the concentrated chemicals in the small enclosed space in a car until there is no odor left. The following tips have been game changers for many as it was for a woman with a new car that spent 2 hours a day commuting to work. She told me she was going to have to quit her job and sell the car because she just couldn’t be in the car that long! She started the process I describe below on weekends, incorporated the “Next Steps” described, and was able to keep her job and keep her car!



There is no better time of year to take advantage of the heat (especially with the current heat waves across the country!) as summertime. We have heard from a lot of you that you struggle with ensuring your car is a space free of toxic fragrance and cleaners. But thankfully, you can take control of your car environment, just like you can inside your home!

Think about how strong the smell is when you open up a hot new car.  The heat drives the smells of the volatile organic chemicals, VOCs (tobacco and air fresheners, new car odors) out of the materials making the car smell even stronger, but if you open the doors up and let the smells escape, they do not reincorporate into the materials and the odor is reduced. Just repeating that sunning process is a great help.



Get Started

Step One: HEPA vacuum all interior surfaces of the car – ceiling, dashboard, doors, floors, etc. Remove all mats, scrub with Branch Basics All-Purpose (made with Branch Basics Concentrate and water) and place in the sun.

Step Two: Spray and wipe all surfaces of the car (dashboard, inside of doors, headrests, etc.) with All-Purpose and a microfiber. Spray floor carpet with All-Purpose and agitate with a brush.

Step Three: If you have leather seats, spray the All-Purpose in an inconspicuous area to see how the material responds first. If all seems well, spray and wipe. If you have cloth seats, test as above then agitate the fibers with a brush.

Step Four: Open all car doors, windows, and trunk and let dry in the sun. Then, close all of the doors and windows to give time for VOC’s to build up for 30 minutes to an hour and reopen to let the VOCs escape. *Repeating this closing up and building up of the VOCs and then opening the car to release odors will continue to reduce the smell in the car.*

Next Steps

Further measures may be taken to hasten the full outgassing of the car and reduce your exposure while driving during this period.  

Step One: Turn on the car with the air conditioner running and spray a fine mist of full strength B.O.C. from Medina, pointing the spray bottle up into the air letting a light mist fall on to the surfaces in the car.  

Step Two: Close the car up (make sure windows are up) and keep it running for a couple of minutes to circulate the B.O.C. in the air through the vents.  Do not directly spray surfaces with B.O.C. – the goal is not to wet any area, just to create a fine mist in the car that settles on surfaces and runs through the vents.

Step Three: Turn off the car, close the doors and let sit for 30 minutes.  The B.O.C. will further draw odors out of the materials. Then open all doors to air and sun. If there is no wind – put fans on to blow air across the surfaces.  Repeat as needed.

Step Four: Use 4-6  Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag in the car to continue mopping up the chemicals between bakeout sessions. They are made of a sustainable bamboo charcoal that effectively absorbs and removes odors, allergens and harmful pollutants. They are fragrance free, chemical free and non-toxic. They also can help mold, mildew and bacteria from forming by absorbing excess moisture. Recharge bags by placing them in the sun for an hour while your car is baking out. Works for VOCs and tobacco smells!

Step Five: Consider using a car air purifier to reduce your exposure while in process of baking the car out


Have you tried outgassing your car? Let us know in the comments below!



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  1. This is great! Thank you! Do you have any recommendations for removing possible mold from spilled water bottles in the carpet the clean way and to keep it from coming back? (The water was never detected when it spilt)😬

    1. Dear Sarah,

      Thank you for your question. Does your car smell like mold? If so, you need to open up the car to the sun. You can also sprinkle baking soda liberally on the stained area and let it sit for at least 24 hours. Then you should vacuum it up – hopefully with a sealed HEPA vacuum. Then,retreat the spot with Branch Basics all-purpose spray. You may also consider using BOC – from Medina.

      Hope this helps!

  2. Thank you for this helpful information.

    I remember someone commenting about using BB for windshield wiper fluid. Is this a possibility and if so, what ratio would you recommend for BB and filtered water ?

    Thank you in advance,

    1. Hello Melissa,

      Yes, you can use Branch Basics as windshield wiper fluid. Just use the streak-free formula. However, if you live in a cold climate, it will freeze in the winter, so be sure to use it up before the temperature drops! 🙂

  3. Hello everyone!
    I must share my story because I am pleasantly surprised at how well this product worked on cleaning the filthy floor mats in my 2003 vehicle. I recently purchased Branch Basics since I’m doing toxic product cleanse overall and decided to try this product on the floor mats in my car. For years, I have tried everything + spent so much money on products to clean my floor mats and nothing has worked, not to mention the chemicals that were in them. I was about to purchase new floor mats (which cost a fortune..) but today, after reading this blog post, I decided to try Branch Basics ALL PURPOSE cleaner on my floor mats. I am in SHOCK at how it fully removed ALL THE STAINS! Grease + dirt is all gone. I didn’t even have to let the product sit, all I did was spray the All Purpose product directly onto the mats + brush and watched the stains disappear.
    I highly recommend trying this, it will change your car cleaning routine for the better!!! And of course, it won’t make you sick from the toxic smells.

  4. Hi Marilee,

    Years ago you told me how to treat my cars HVAC system, which is moldy, with , I think, Mystical.
    Can you tell me that process again? Would BOC work in it’s place?


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