Name That Smell!

Back when I was in college, I drove a 1995 Saturn. It was hunter green, drove like shit in the snow (which was plentiful in New England), and it went from 0-60 in about four minutes. I was able to tote around drunk friends as the ‘DD’. I was also able to drive to Blockbuster Video (my place of employment) to rent movies to couples that would inevitably watch two minutes of said movie, hook up, forget about the movie, return it late, and try bitching me out for a ‘credit’ (those f’ers!). I also got around the BEST DAMN COLLEGE TOWN IN THE NATION!! (Go UMass!)

While the Saturn had it’s own soul, it also had its own smell. It was a mix of air freshener, old buffalo chicken pizza, cheap cologne, and sweat. Boom! There you go! It wasn’t the ‘best’ of smells, but it was the Saturn’s smell. It was the aggregation of every single human that rode/drove it, plus any edible/non-edible item that made it into the vehicle.

For those of you that have kids, your vehicle has undoubtedly acquired it’s own smell. Gone are the days of fun-and-fancy-free odors. Now, it’s all about the kids and the stressed out parents, and the smells that go along with it.

The definition for the word ‘odoriferous’ has two meanings. The first meaning (according to Merriam-Webster) is ‘yielding an odor’. The minivan certainly does that. The second is ‘morally offensive’. Well, the odor is morally offensive to any nasal passage, so I’m going to say that the minivan ‘checks the box’ there as well.

What could the smell possibly be?! Lucky for you, I’ve compiled a list of things that it could possibly be, for I believe that it is completely within the realm of possibility that these things currently exist within our vehicle, but I have yet to find the time (and in some cases, the capability) to remove these potential items… if they exist….

  • Petrified Cheerios – When ‘DADDY, I WANNA SNACK!’ becomes ‘SHIT, HE SPILLED THEM ALL OVER THE PLACE!’
  • Moldy Chicken Nugget – You know, the one that’s between the front seat and the ‘storage-middle -part-whatever-the-F-it-is’ thing.
  • Dirty (#1) diaper – OK parents, confess! You definitely have one of the ‘pee pee’ diapers floating around in one of the compartments SOMEWHERE in the vehicle! Don’t. Lie. To. Me. If you have a dirty #2 diaper in your vehicle, well THAT’S JUST GROSS!! :)
  • Febreze – The inventor of Febreze has invested all of his/her profits in an offshore hedge fund, and has some private holdings stashed in Monaco. However, us (as sheep) continue to buy the ‘scented water’ and spray the crap out of everything. It smells nice for about 45 minutes, and then the ‘niceness’ fades, and you are spritzing the hell out of everything again. Then, you need a new bottle, and the inventor laughs his/her nuts/boobs off as you continue to fund his/her yacht club.
  • Tree Air Freshener – Not only have you febrezed the hell out of your vehicle, but you’ve bought a three pack (or a ‘tree’ pack.. nyuk nyuk!) of those tree air fresheners. The package says to cut a little opening on the package and hang it from your mirror. WHO THE HELL HANGS A FRESHENER WITH THE PLASTIC STILL ON IT FROM THEIR MIRROR?!?!?!?!?! So, you open the whole thing. The overwhelming scent/’high’ causes your eyeball to twitch and a splitting headache, but it sure smells like ‘new car’ all over again!!
  • Curdled Milk/Formula In Sippy Cup/Bottle- Need I say more?!
  • Old Coffee – Kids = Parents + Coffee = No time to clean out the Starbucks in the cup holder! It’ll smell slightly sour, but with a hint of caramel…. mmm… Starbucks!
  • Old Snot – Kids are sick often. They produce snot. If old snot has a smell, it is definitely in the car somewhere.
  • Cherry Lollipop – I smell it… but I don’t see it…. where the hell did my kid stick this thing?! (sigh)

So, parents and friends… what am I missing? Comment and let me know!


  1. LMAO! Okay I don’t live at Starbucks but being the faithful Canadian that I am I live off my Timmies! After 8 kiddies I have to say that nothing smells as bad as a bottle that has been tossed under the seat that is still half full of Nutrigamen (Milk free formula)! It was so bad I had to actually throw the bottle out. McDonald Cheeseburgers stuffed between seats is pretty bad, oand for some reason the fries give off a strange smell after a few months…….. apple juice in a sippy cup that has sat (under the seat of course where it was thrown during a fight no doubt) in a hot truck is disgusting, as are the pee diapers or underwear that somehow got left behind and let us not forget the smell of vomit – Lord help you, whatever you do it lingers in the vehicle for weeks!
    Thanks for the laugh!

    • Chris said:

      LOL! :) You are totally right, Chantel!… and I should have mentioned the element of heat and how that affects the smell! ‘Micky D’s’… how could I forget! The fries are a perfect shape to get wedged between every single crevice in the car. Thanks for the comment – I hope all is well :)

  2. lmao!!!! ok seriously cracked up :)

    • Chris said:

      Thanks much! :)

  3. A said:

    i know something- a 9 day old turkey and cheese sandwich. i had a friend just find her 3 yr’s in the seat back. she could not pinpoint the awful stench until then. i have had a cantaloupe roll out of the publix bag and get lodged between the seats. after 1 day that smells worse than any of the things you described in your post. keep track of the cantaloupes…thank goodness i figured it out 2 days later or i might have gotten rid of the car.

    • Chris said:

      Cantaloupes are definitely a stinky situation! I’d probably call in some CSI folks if I had left one of those bad boys in the van. Thanks for the comment! ;)

  4. This made me laugh!! Sounds like you and I have very similar car hygiene. I don’t think you missed any of the main odors, but could you explain to me why a spilled bottle of water has the ability to pull all those smells out of car carpet and transform them into a scent reminiscent of a decaying animal?
    Kids are gross!

    • Chris said:

      Good question, Hillary! Clearly evaporation is the enemy here…lol! What was once an ‘odor of the past’ can easily be resurrected. We took our twins for a cupcake awhile back, and that crap got into their stroller. Despite ‘cleaning’ the thing with a good wipe-down, it reeked a few days later. Yay for deep cleaning! Thanks for the comment! :)

%d bloggers like this: