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In Love with that New Car Smell?


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In Love with that New Car Smell

A Safer Journey: Avoid VOCs in the Vehicle

Who knew? That new car smell that we all love so much, right up there with pine trees and new shoes? It’s really the scent of volatile organic compounds that are emanating out of the vinyl and plastic in the door panels and dashboard! And with each appreciative whiff, we’re breathing them in!

What Are VOCs?

VOCs from the New Car SmellOrganic compounds are chemicals that contain carbon and are found in all living things. Volatile organic compounds, also known as VOCs, are organic compounds that easily become vapors or gases. Along with carbon, they contain elements like chlorine, fluorine, hydrogen, oxygen, sulfur, bromine or nitrogen.

VOCs include compounds like formaldehyde, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) used as flame retardants, and phthalic acid esters (phthalates), which are emitted from materials and finishes used to make car interiors—things like plastics, textiles, seat cushions, glues, sealants, wood and leather.

Can VOCs Make You Sick?

The known health effects of VOCs on humans vary from highly toxic to none at all. For many, exposure to these substances can make allergy and asthma symptoms worse and cause eye, nose and throat irritation as well as coughs, headaches, flu-like symptoms and even skin irritation. Some, like formaldehyde, also are known to cause cancer and neurological effects.

So What to Do?

You can’t very well reduce VOCs with house plants in your car like you can do at home, but there is good news. Automakers are now working to reduce VOCs. For example, Toyota plans to increase its usage of low-VOC paints and is working with suppliers to reduce formaldehyde, and Ford is now using soy-based foam instead of petroleum-based. If you suspect VOCs may be in your vehicle, there are steps you can take to reduce them:

  • Try letting your car “bake out” by airing out in the hot sun with the windows down and then thoroughly cleaning the interior.
  • You can also drive with windows down to help minimize the impact of hazardous chemicals, especially in the first six months of new car ownership.
  • Even after your vehicle has off-gassed the worst of its chemical odors, you should still clean the interior often to remove any chemicals that continue to be released.

Avoid the Cardboard Disc!

Car Air Freshner cover New Car Smell

One final note: If you’re someone who enjoys a ride that’s pleasantly scented, you’ll want to steer clear of those fragranced cardboard air fresheners. Care2.org reports that many popular cardboard air fresheners contain a proprietary mix of chemical ingredients that can lead to headaches, nausea, breathing difficulties and/or dizziness.

Rather than bringing even more harsh chemicals into your car’s interior, why not choose a more natural option to get the fresh clean scent you want? I’d suggest a set of our new Norwex ceramic Car Vent Clips with one of our Essential Oils!

comment_2Were you aware of the potential perils of that new car smell? We’d love to hear your comments. Just drop us a line below!

Resources:

I like my car to have a nice, fresh scent.

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Yes:
 
86%
No:
 
14%
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Kimberley Russell
Kimberley Russell
3 years ago

Yes, I am aware of the effects of VOCs! My sister-in-law bought a new car earlier this year and had a severe asthma attack after driving in it for several hours. She had to “bake” it as mentioned in the article. She also had the car detailed.

Andrea
Andrea
3 years ago

Wow! This is good information. I knew the “new car” smell couldn’t be good, but didn’t realize just how bad it actually is. Thanks for the info.

Susan
Susan
3 years ago

“New car” scent has bothered me since childhood. It often makes me feel car sick. I have to drive with the window cracked open pretty much year round! The scent disc is a great way for me to have a scent other than plastics.

Sharon Campese
Sharon Campese
3 years ago

I always use essential oils in my car. My favourite is mint and citrus. I have been asked why my car always smells like a Pina Colada 😉

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Moderator
3 years ago
Reply to  Sharon Campese

Haha, thanks for sharing Sharon! Glad to know you’ve found a safer way to scent your car!

Stacy Leakakos
Stacy Leakakos
3 years ago

Ugh, I used to be addicted to the “pine green clean” smell! So glad i finally stopped using those!!

Heather Wiese
Heather Wiese
3 years ago

Cars and homes have a lot of chemicals in their components. It’s amazing that humans are still alive!!!

Rebekah Beasley
Rebekah Beasley
3 years ago

The car vent clips are my new favorite product!!

Jenny Van Ryswyk
Jenny Van Ryswyk
3 years ago

I am aware of that and also aware of the VOC’s in some of the familiar ‘dollar stores’ or other low-price chain stores that have ridiculously low prices. They smell full of VOC’s

Tanya Aoyagi
Tanya Aoyagi
3 years ago

Yes, we are doing what we can to reduce VOCs in our home. I love the tips for getting them out of your car, and I absolutely love my new fragrance disc with my favorite EO!

Donna Silsbee
Donna Silsbee
3 years ago

Good to know.

Jeanette West
Jeanette West
3 years ago

I just bought a “new” used car and the dealership had a vent clip scented item in it. Although I threw it out right away, the car still smells and it aggravates my allergies & asthma. I’ve aired it out and am cleaning it out. I need to put in my Norwex Air Freshener bag in to see if it can absorb some of this stink! Any additional smells will likely come from essential oils or when I haul home fresh cut greenery.

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Moderator
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeanette West

Those sound like much safer alternatives! Thanks for sharing, Jeanette!

Gingi Freeman
Gingi Freeman
3 years ago

Norwex needs to start selling vinyl UV protector…then there would be a FULL green clean car package!! I hate having to use Armorall!

Kimberley Crook
Kimberley Crook
2 years ago

This article was so informative. I was talking to my sister about it last night and the side effects of the car freshener…she realized she has had a headache since putting it in her car and now suspects that might be the reason. Thank you

Amy Dabbelt
Amy Dabbelt
7 months ago

I was not aware of this!! My husband just purchased a new vehicle and we were all saying today how we loved the new care smell! It’s time to get my Norwex Envirocloth out and clean the interior. He may not be pleased, but he will understand after i tell him about this article. thank you!!

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Admin
Moderator
7 months ago
Reply to  Amy Dabbelt

Thanks for sharing, Amy, and thanks for spreading the word to your husband also. The more we know, the bigger the impact we can make at home—and on the road!