Mouldy AC evaporator? Smelly cabin? Maybe it’s time you learned to ‘love the bomb’.

If your car has developed an unpleasant smell that won't go away, it might be time for drastic measures.

And it doesn't get more drastic-sounding than an "aircon bomb".

In reality, an air-con bomb is simply a sophisticated air freshener can that shoots a deodorising spray into the cabin, with the car’s AC set to 'recirculate' on the coolest setting. This circulates the vapour through the car's air conditioning system and cabin.


Tackle mould deep in your AC

An AC bomb - car ac deodorizer - may be especially effective at reaching components of the AC system - such as the evaporator and evaporator case - which can trap moisture, creating the perfect environment for mould and bacteria to multiply.

Mould in particular is to be avoided, as it may trigger allergic reactions, wheezing and other respiratory problems.

With luck, using an air con cleaner bomb should leave your vehicle smelling fresh for weeks or even months - and reduce or eliminate any mould.

Note that some products have less dramatic names like 'air con sanitiser'.

Is an air-con bomb better than a regular air freshener?

Air con bomb manufacturers claim that because the air freshener vapour circulates through the vehicle's AC system, it disinfects or neutralises the various causes of bad odours, which can get stuck inside the car's vents and AC mechanics.

A regular air freshener - such as a spray or 'Magic Tree' - only masks any unpleasant odours; a car AC deodorizer bomb purportedly removes the causes of the smells.

Do air-con bombs really work?

Many motorists are pleased with the results of using a car air conditioner bomb. However, be sure you like the fragrance, because you'll be stuck with it for weeks or months!

Additionally, some products may be more effective than others, so be sure to read reviews before purchasing. AC bombs cost £10-20.


Air conditioning system switched on


How to use an air-con bomb:

The following is a rough guide to how to use a car air conditioning bomb; read and follow your product's instructions to learn how to deploy it effectively and safely.

  • Ensure there are no occupants or pets in the vehicle.
  • Open the box and remove the can of air freshener.
  • Place the can in an upright position and in the specified location, as directed in the instructions. Some products come with a stand (which may simply be the packaging) to ensure the can doesn't tip over. Some products specify being placed in the footwell of the passenger seat, others on the central binnacle.
  • Open all air vents.
  • With the engine on, set the air conditioning to recirculate on full blast - on cool/cold mode.
  • Depress the button on the air-con bomb until it clicks into place. A constant jet of air freshener should shoot up from the can.
  • Close all the windows and doors and leave for 10 minutes, or as directed in the instructions.
  • It's unwise to leave the aircon running for too long, since this might result in a flat battery.
  • After 10 minutes, turn off the air-con, then open doors and windows and leave for a further 10 minutes.
  • Wipe off any excess residue from the glass and surfaces.

Top tips for air con bomb use:

  • Store the can at room temperature, away from heat sources - including sunlight. As with all pressurised cans, there's a risk of explosion if it gets too hot. Air con bombs use propellants such as butane, isobutane, and propane - all of which expand under heat and can explode. Note that in the marketing 'bomb' is used in reference to the dramatic effect it has on how a car's cabin smells, rather than any literal explosive properties.
  • Deploy the air con bomb in a well-ventilated area.
  • Take care when choosing a fragrance, as it will last a long time.