Every time a furry friend enters your life—and, inevitably, your car—there's a very particular kind of hijacking. Alongside your usual and comforting delights of leather, spilled soda, Chinese take-out and heat-soaked dashboard plastic comes the threat of Wet Dog Smell: a cornucopia of strange and slightly terrifying animal scents that seep into your car's vents, seat fabrics, carpet, and resale value.
There are two ways to deal with this invasion. You could become one with the smell and explain that it comes with the pet-owning territory (much to the dismay of your friends, family, and any coworkers unfortunate enough to accept a ride). Or, you could eliminate the stench and move on with your life. Here's how to take your car back while still respecting your magnificent creature's signature scent.
Roll the windows down
If lazy and obvious is your style: Get in your car, open the windows, drive somewhere far, preferably at a high rate of speed, and feel the wind rushing past you—through your hair, through your pet's hair. Some pets love long road trips, and others will be audibly miserable the whole time, so your mileage may literally vary. But if you need to blow the dust, cobwebs, and smell out, sometimes the simplest method works. (This one's kind of a no brainer.) Plus, every fellow motorist who sees a smiling dog with its head out the window will feel his or her day brightened by at least 75 percent. It's science.
Towels, mats and pads
A pet mat can keep hairs, dirt, and various bodily effluvia off your seats and carpet. Such covers always stay clean if you take them out of the car and chuck them in a washing machine—a feat you can't pull off with a car's backseat.
Clean the cloth
For years, odors cling to cloth seats and fabric headliners. Leather seats can stain and crack. The seams between bolsters can trap all kinds of tiny grotesqueries. An odor-neutralizing cleaner like Turtle Wax Power Out! Upholstery Cleaner can undo the damage that your pet's paws have wreaked. It's a scrub-in foam for soiled fabrics. Think of it as body wash for your car seats.
Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum
Never underestimate the power of a Shop-Vac from your local hardware store. Just a simple little two-horsepower model with a gallon or two's capacity can be worth its weight in clearance-sale gold. Rejoice as a deep clean wet-dry vacuuming from top to bottom will eliminate the various elements your pets have tracked and shed that cause your beloved whip to smell like, well, them.
The air-freshening bomb
Better than an air freshener, more effective than any air-vent plug-in, there's the set-it-and-forget-it option that far outweighs any hanging tree on your rearview mirror. Stick a Turtle Wax Odor-X Whole Car Blast in your center console, roll up the windows, and close the doors, and in 15 minutes the automatic misting action will spread throughout the cabin, searching and destroying all odors with extreme prejudice. Plus, an included mini spray bottle can target specific malodorous spots to leave you odor free (at last).