How to Remove Odors From Your Semi-Truck

You’re on your way to pick up a big load, then turn right around and pick up another later that day. But as you open you back hatch to begin loading the product, the dispatcher turns you away. Why? A terrible smell is coming from your trailer, he says. Instead of hitting the road as planned, now you have to figure out the quickest and easiest way to get rid of the stench so you are not late to your next pick up. Smelly semi-trucks are a constant problem, and they get even worse in the summer months when odors increase due to the heat. To ensure that a bad smell doesn’t limit potential hauls or disrupt your pickup schedule, learn how to remove odors from your semi-truck trailer quickly and easily.

How to Remove Odors from Your Semi-Truck

A sweeping reform of U.S. food safety laws, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed into law by President Obama in January 2011, aims to prevent contamination before it occurs. The FSMA rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food, published in April 2016, requires truckers (all shippers, receivers, loaders, and carriers who transport food in the U.S. by motor or rail vehicle) to disinfect semi-trucks thoroughly before they receive their next load. They must follow best practices for sanitary transportation and ensure that all food is properly refrigerated and protected. Although many truckers already followed best practices prior to the law, the FMSA also mandates employee training, additional written communication, and record keeping requirements. Some small businesses have two years from the publication date (until April 2018) to comply with the rule, but all other businesses must currently be in compliance (as of April 2017).

As a part of the FSMA regulation, you may be wondering how to remove odors from your semi-truck. Keep the following tips in mind to ensure your semi-truck is odor-free:

1. Prevent bad smells in your truck trailer (when possible).

Sometimes a smelly semi-truck is inevitable. For example, transporting cargo like produce or tires can result in smelly odors in your trailer. If these items sit in your semi-truck trailer for long periods of time the smells can become harder and harder to remove. In order to prevent these smells from affecting your next haul, disinfect your semi-truck trailer immediately after you drop off your load. Do not let the trailer sit for long periods of time in between hauls without being disinfected. If you have a tight turn around schedule and do not have a break to disinfect your trailer, use the SafeSpace Disinfectant and Deodorizing Fogger, and place it in a (patent-pending) no-tip stand in between loads. (1 hour minimum needed to treat). As you are driving to your next load the fogger will go off and disinfect and deodorize your semi-truck trailer, leaving a freshly cleaned scent at your next pick up.

2. Prevent bad smells in your cab.

Other times a bad smell comes from the cab itself, so you may be able to prevent it. If possible eat outside your semi-truck (at rest stops, restaurants, or fast food joints) and when you can try to avoid spilling foods and drinks in your semi-truck. If spills do occur, do your best to clean them up immediately. In addition, don’t store smelly items in your semi-truck for long periods of time and clean the vehicle regularly. Of course, you can’t prevent every odor. When you do smell something foul, use the following tips to learn how to remove odors from your semi-truck.

3. Wipe it down and wash it out.

First and foremost, give your semi-truck a good scrub. This is key to getting rid of lingering smells. If you think the odor is just in one area, take a cloth and some good old soapy water and wipe the area down. Next, if you believe the smell comes from the cab, wipe down all surfaces with a disinfectant cloth; you may even need to shampoo the seats and/or the carpet. Lastly, the culprit could be the semi-truck’s exterior, so you may want to give that a scrub too. This takes some effort, but a good bath will take care of most unpleasant odors.

4. Check to see if your vehicle is to blame.

Have you considered that your semi-truck’s mechanics may be causing the unpleasant odor? Depending on what you’re smelling, it could be one of a number of issues. If it smells like burnt carpet, for instance, you may have a problem with your brakes. A rotten-egg smell usually points to catalytic converter damage, and a smell like a gym locker often means that the heater or air conditioner isn’t functioning properly. If you have already cleaned your semi-truck and you’re concerned the vehicle is to blame for the odor, find a mechanic.

5. Use an auto deodorizer.

As a final step, look into a deodorizing spray for your semi-truck. Simply spray this product in your semi-truck’s empty interior including the carpet, header, seats, cupholders, steering wheel and doors. Some of these products have disinfecting properties, so you can kill odor-inducing causing germs while deodorizing your space. Deodorizers are affordable and often come in a can small enough to fit in your semi-truck’s console or glove compartment, so that you can quickly and easily pull it out whenever you need.


If you need some help learning how to remove odors from your semi-truck, look at what SafeSpace Company® has to offer. Our Auto Odor & Germ Eliminator generates an ultra-fine, contact disinfectant mist that leaves no spots, stains, or residue and is perfect for semi-truck cabs. A 3-5 second release of the disinfectant mist into your semi-truck’s interior will kill germs and deodorize the space, leaving the interior smelling fresh and clean. To purchase an Auto Odor & Germ Eliminator today, visit the SafeSpace® website. For more information, give us a call at 1-800-735-2506.