Can I Use an Ozone Generator in a Car Safely?


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We've all been there. You open your car door and instantly, your nose is invaded by unpleasant odors. Whether it's the remnants of a long-forgotten fast food bag or the lingering scent of wet dog, these odors cling to the upholstery and just won't let go.

But what if there was a solution? A magic button that could make these unwelcome smells disappear?

Ozone generators promise a breath of fresh air, literally. They convert oxygen into ozone, an odor eliminating miracle worker.

No more enduring those persistent smells.

Let's delve deeper into what these devices offer, and most importantly, if they can be safely used in your car.

What Are Common Sources Of Car Odors?

You might wonder, where do these pesky car smells come from? Well, there are a few usual suspects.

  1. Food and Drink Spills: Leftover fries? Spilled coffee? They can leave a lasting legacy. And it's not just the initial smell. Over time, they decay. That's when the real stench kicks in.
  2. Smoke: Ah, the stubborn scent of smoke. Whether it's cigarettes, cigars or weed, smoke clings. It's a scent that doesn't want to say goodbye.
  3. Pet Odors: We love our furry friends. But let's face it. They can leave a mark. Wet fur, doggy breath, even “accidents.” They can all make your car a smelly sanctuary.
  4. Mold and Mildew: These uninvited guests thrive in damp environments. Left unchecked, they can turn your car into a mold and mildew infested mess.

These odors can make your car a less-than-pleasant place, but you can get rid of them.

Why Do Odors Linger In Cars?

Have you ever asked yourself, why do car smells linger? It's all down to a few main factors

First, the materials in your car can be odor sponges.

  • Fabric Seats: These love to hold onto odors.
  • Carpet: The carpet gets all of the worst things from our feet, so the more carpet your vehicle has, the worse it will smell when it isn't cleaned.
  • Headliner: These are almost always fabric and while they're touched the least, they're the most difficult to clean without damaging them.
  • Air Vents: Those hidden corners in your ventilation system? They're perfect for trapping smells, but can be difficult to clean.

Then, there's the matter of humidity and temperature. They're like a tag team when it comes to boosting odors.

  • Humidity: It makes your car's interior damp. Remember, moisture makes scents stronger and leaks in your windows can lead to mold odor.
  • Temperature: Heat amplifies odors short term, but can make them worse long term.

These factors can make your car a fortress of foul odors. But, an ozone generator is capable of being the key to winning this odor battle.

Let's dive into the how and why next!

How Do You Choose The Right Ozone Generator For Your Car?

Ready to buy an ozone generator? Here are a few things to consider.

  • Ozone Output: The more ozone, the quicker it eliminates odors. Ensure you choose the correct size unit for your situation.
  • Size and Portability: A compact and lightweight model is ideal for use in cars.
  • Timer Feature: This allows you to set the running time. It's a handy feature for safety and convenience. Simply set it and walk away until the timer expires.
  • Price: High-quality generators might cost more. But they're often more durable and effective. You want a more than capable machine, but massive overkill is not the best option.

Small units designed for use in vehicles only are available (like this one on Amazon). Still, if you intend to use an ozone generator in your home, it's best to purchase a larger unit that you can use for both purposes and set the timer for less run time for each blast. We have a list of the leading domestic ozone devices that give you the options and information you need to make educated decisions.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

How To Use An Ozone Generator In A Car


First, Clean Your Car

cleaning car interior

Clean your car to the best of your ability first. An ozone generator should be used to remove lingering odors after the car has already been cleaned, not as a first solution.

This includes:

  • Removing all trash
  • Cleaning all hard surfaces
  • Using upholstery cleaner to extract the seats and carpets

If you don't do these things first, the ozone generator won't work as effectively and odors will return easily.


Set Up The Generator

Place the generator in your car. Connect it to an extension cord if needed.

Then, close the doors and windows, but leave a small crack in at least one side window.

If your ozone generator has an air duct and tubing, you can connect it and run the tube into the window.

Remember, ozone is produced by converting oxygen to ozone. If the car is sealed tight, soon there will be no oxygen to convert. It's critical to leave a crack in the side windows.

Pro-Tip: It's always best to have an ozone generator with a timer.


Run The Generator

run the ozone generator in the car

How long? It depends on the odor and ozone generator. A light smell might need a half hour. A stronger one? It could take a few hours. You're better off giving it 30-minute to 2 hour shock treatments for stubborn and persistent odors.

You must remain outside of the vehicle while the ozone generator is running and during ventilation afterward. This gas can cause respiratory distress and death.


Ventilate After Treatment

ventilate car after ozone treatment

Open all doors and windows after running the generator.

Let fresh air circulate through the open vehicle for at least an hour to allow the ozone to dissipate completely. Do not get in the car during this time period, because it isn't safe to do so.


Inspect Vehicle Post-Treatment

Your car may still smell slightly of ozone after treatment, but you should be able to tell how much odor was removed at this point.

If it didn't remove all of the odor, wait a day, and repeat the treatment process.

At times, and especially with smoke odors, the odors may return after a few days, just keep repeating the process every few days until it no longer returns.

Ozone leaves no residue behind on surfaces, so you don't need to wipe down your interior again.


It's time to take control and refuse to let foul smells rule your car. Choose the right ozone generator and safely reclaim your fresh, clean ride.

You've got this! With a little help from ozone, your car can smell as good as new.


How long does it take to remove car odors with an ozone generator?

It can take 30 minutes to several hours, depending on the severity of the odor.

Is it safe to be in the car during ozone treatment?

No, it's not safe. High levels of ozone can cause respiratory issues and even death. I promise, if you get in it while saturated with ozone, you'll remove yourself fast. It's a severe respiratory irritant. It's not like you will not know instantly.

How often should I use an ozone generator in my car?

It depends on the persistence of the odor. If smells quickly return, you might need to use it more frequently. Smoke and mildew odors may take several treatments.

Are ozone generators safe for pets and children?

No. Just like adult humans, pets and children should never be exposed to high levels of ozone.

Can ozone generators harm my car’s interior?

Generally, no. However, it's always a good idea to check the manufacturer's guidelines.

How can I prolong the lifespan of my ozone generator?

Regular cleaning and proper storage can help prolong the lifespan of your ozone generator.

Can I use an ozone generator for other odor problems in my home?

Yes, ozone generators can be used to combat various types of odors in the home.

Are there legal restrictions on the use of ozone generators?

Some areas have restrictions on ozone generators, including a complete ban on them in California.

What should I do if the odor persists even after using an ozone generator?

If odors persist, you may need to run the ozone generator for longer, seek professional cleaning services, or replace the affected item completely.

Can I use an ozone generator in my car to kill viruses and bacteria?

Yes, ozone generators are known to eliminate various pathogens, including viruses and bacteria.

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