We want a detailed car to look good, but we also want it to smell clean. Opinions vary here. Some people like the ‘new car smell’ but this contains formaldehyde, which is not healthy with long term exposure. Other people equate a pleasant smell with no smell at all. This is probably a safe and healthy option; and at least we know there is no artificial smell covering up a toxic problem. Aiming for no smell is probably a good goal. Later we can add our own scented oils to a neutral environment if we so desire.
If there are obvious sources of odour in a car, have them removed. The likely suspects are foot mats, seat pockets, ash trays, seat covers, or anything that might be exposed to food waste or human sweat. Wash anything removable and clean all internal surfaces.
Microfiber cloths are excellent for almost any surface. Unlike other materials which only remove visible contaminants microfiber cloths also remove microscopic particles, including bacteria and other germs. This removes the need to solvents and chemical cleaners. Chemicals were always an issue with car interiors; some chemical cleaners would fade cloth, others would crack leather or damage plastic. But microfiber cloths are safe for all surfaces, and do away with the need for any liquid chemicals.
Sometimes the source of a car odour is hard to find. It might be an unexposed surface, or it might just seem to be in the air. A few chemical disinfectants can work here. But a more modern method is to use negative ion generators or ozone generators.
Ozone generators effectively kill airborne bacteria and spores, as well as mould and mildew. Ozone is a gas, consisting of three combined oxygen atoms. In high concentrations this gas is lethal to most animal and plant life, including humans. A car flooded with ozone will suffocate almost all bacteria and germs, and remove any foul odours. Afterward the ozone rapidly turns into normal oxygen. Cars must be unoccupied when treated with ozone, but otherwise the procedure is quite safe.
Negative ion generators attract airborne particles and clear the surrounding environment. They work in a manner similar to static charges. Unlike many other treatments they have no adverse effect on people. It is normal to leave a negative ion generator on in the background to keep the air clean. The only disadvantage is that treatment must be ongoing.
UV wands are used for some cleaning jobs. These are effective for almost any surface cleaning, and remove many odours. One precaution is that UV light causes fading in many materials, especially fabric and organic carpets, so some people avoid UV treatment in order to protect the internal appearance of their car. UV also cases Sunburn, though this is easy avoid when using a hand held wand.
Ozone treatment, UV light and microfiber surface cleaning can effectively give a clean, healthy environment inside your car.