There are many reasons why the inside of your car can overflow with the strong smell of antifreeze solution. Maybe a recently purchased bottle spilled on the back seat, or perhaps the radiator has sprung a leak, or an intake manifold gasket has gone bad; 

Regardless of the cause, the very sweet, almost nauseating, syrupy aroma will have you wondering how to neutralize the smell of antifreeze in your car. Lucky you, because I have the information you need.

How Do You Get Rid Of Antifreeze Smell In Your Car?

To get rid of the antifreeze smell in your car, you need to properly identify the source. If the smell is caused by a spill inside your vehicle you will most likely have to resort to a professional cleaning and detailing service.

You should look for car washes that offer steam cleaning of all fabrics and carpets (leather cleaning and conditioning if your car requires it, as well as the use of specialized solutions to leave your car clean and smelling fresh, thus ridding it of the cloying smell of antifreeze.

A full cleaning to get the antifreeze smell out of your car

However, the method above will only work if the smell of antifreeze was caused by a localized spill. If the smell is caused by leakage from a bad hose or gasket, you will need to positively identify the issue and take measures to resolve it. Otherwise, getting your car clean will only neutralize the coolant smells for a very short while.

If you are not well-versed in car mechanics, the best advice I can give you is to take your vehicle to the shop and have the experts take a look.

If your car starts to smell like maple syrup all of a sudden, look out for puddles of brightly colored liquids under your vehicle. Typically, antifreeze is bright lime-green, pink, or blue.

Another common sign of leaking antifreeze or engine coolant is that your car will start running hot and may eventually overheat.

Is The Smell Of Antifreeze Dangerous?

Smelling antifreeze is safe, for the most part, but don’t smell it if you don’t have to. At high concentrations, the fumes released by the ethylene glycol found in antifreeze may cause irritation of the eyes and airways. 

However, according to the CDC, antifreeze presents a serious risk to small children and pets, who may be attracted to the sweet, maple syrup-like smell of antifreeze. If the antifreeze leak is internal, it shouldn’t be cause for concern; but, if the smell is coming from a spilled bottle, you should take immediate action to clean the spill and remove the smell.

Avoid smelling antifreeze

Antifreeze Poisoning

The most common symptoms of poisoning by antifreeze include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Uncoordinated movement
  • Grogginess
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness

If you notice these symptoms in your children or pets, contact a poison control center and seek medical attention. If left untreated, antifreeze poisoning can result in damage to the kidneys, lungs, and brain.

Be advised that the symptoms of poisoning by antifreeze can take several hours after ingesting it. In some extreme cases, it can take up to 3 days. So be especially wary around children, if you are dealing with antifreeze leaks.

Conclusion On Antifreeze Spills

If the smell is a spill, take your car to the carwash and pay to have it fully washed, including a thorough interior detailing service, and use any other methods that will mask the smells.

If the source of the smell is a mechanical issue with your vehicle, then a visit to the mechanic will be needed. Once the necessary repairs have been completed, and the car interior cleaned, you would be free of the sweet smell of antifreeze.