How to Deodorize Air Vents

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum with attachments

  • Screwdriver

  • Toothbrush

  • Water

  • White vinegar

  • Plastic spray bottle

  • Paper towels or soft cloth

  • Dryer sheet

Deodorize air vents with a solution of white vinegar and water.
Image Credit: Jupiterimages/ Images

Sources of unpleasant odors in your home or car include tobacco smoke, dust, dirt, mold, pet dander and engine fumes which get trapped in the air vents. Clean and deodorize the air vents in your home and car regularly to keep the circulating air smelling fresh.


Deodorizing Air Vents in the Home

Step 1

Look closely at the screws holding the air vent in place and note which type of screwdriver you need. Unscrew all the screws and place them in a small bowl or receptacle for safekeeping. Remove the air vent cover to clean it properly.

Step 2

Vacuum the dust and debris from the front and back of the air vent slats. Use the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner for a thorough cleaning.

Step 3

Place the air vent cover under warm running water in the sink or bathtub. Use an old toothbrush to get at embedded dirt and scrub between the slats in the air vent cover.


Step 4

Soak the air vent cover in a 1:1 solution of white vinegar and water. White vinegar is an environmentally safe product that acts as a natural deodorizer.

Step 5

Vacuum away any dust and debris from inside the air duct using. Use the crevice tool attachment on your vacuum cleaner for a thorough cleaning.

Step 6

Combine 1/4 cup white vinegar with 2 cups water in a plastic spray bottle and shake vigorously. Spray the solution very lightly into the air duct. Don't saturate the surface or allow any of the solution to drip down into the air duct. Allow the sprayed solution to dry.


Step 7

Wipe the air vent cover with paper towels or a soft cloth. After the air vent has dried, screw it back in place over the air duct.

Step 8

Change any heating or air conditioner filters regularly. Dust, mold and other debris can build up on the filters and cause odors, especially if the units are exposed to moisture from outside or in the basement.

Deodorizing Air Vents in the Car

Step 1

Vacuum the car air vents. Use your vacuum cleaner's brush or crevice attachment for a thorough cleaning.


Step 2

Use an old toothbrush and a soft cloth to scrub the interior vents in your car with a deodorizing solution containing 1/4 cup white vinegar to 2 cups water.

Step 3

Change the car's air filter regularly. The air filter in your car traps dirt and debris, and if not changed routinely, it can be the source of some annoying odors.

Step 4

Remove the air conditioner cover and make sure the drain holes are free of dirt. Drain the water from the collection pan and clean it with a mild soap and water.


Tape the vacuum attachments to the hose when cleaning air vents and ducts to prevent them from falling off into the duct as you clean. Hang or tape a dryer sheet in your favorite fragrance behind the air vent cover to circulate the scent. Do not to block the entire vent. Use a commercial disinfectant cleaner as an alternative to a white vinegar and water solution to deodorize your air vents.



Kathryn Meininger

Kathryn Meininger began writing and publishing poetry in 1967. She was co-founder and editor of the professional magazine "Footsteps" and began writing articles online in 2010. She earned a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine from Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine and a Bachelor of Arts in biology from William Paterson University.