How to get smoke smell out of a car

Many people dislike the smell of cigarette smoke, so if you’re planning on selling your vehicle or trading it in for another ride, then you’ll want to try and remove the odor. Vehicles that have the smell of smoke embedded into the interior tend to sell for a lot less. In fact, a vehicle can drop by several hundreds of dollars if the odor is bad enough.

On the other hand, if you’ve just purchased a vehicle that smells like cigarette smoke, and you’re bothered by it, then it’s in your best interest to remove it. The odor of cigarette smoke for some people can cause headaches and even nausea. Why let this smell ruin your overall driving experience? By eliminating this smell, you’re enjoy your vehicle that much more.

Removing the odor of cigarette smoke isn’t always easy, but there are a number of ways to accomplish this. Some involve cleaners while others are more natural. All the methods listed below are inexpensive, easy to perform, and are usually effective.

A few beginning steps

Before you apply one of the methods listed below, there are a few steps you’ll want to take. You should always take these steps no matter what method you decide to apply. If the smell of smoke isn’t too strong, then these steps may even eliminate the odor without having to apply any other smoke eliminating methods. So, what steps should you take?

  1. Ventilate the vehicle. Roll down the windows and let the vehicle air out. You can even let the air conditioning runs for a while too. Just make sure that you turn your air conditioning to the coldest temperature, and you don’t use the recirculation feature either
  2. Remove all the trash and empty the ashtrays. Cigarette butts and smoke ash will definitely stink up your vehicle.
  3. Wipe down the interior portion of your vehicle. The brand ArmorAll makes quality surface cleaning products for your vehicle. These can be purchased at almost any auto parts store. Make sure you also use a glass cleaner on the inside of both the front and rear windshields.
  4. Sweep out your vehicle. This includes the floor mats, rugs, and the seat covers too. You may even want to let the floor mats and rugs sit out in the sun for a while.

If you can still smell the odor of cigarette smoke in of your vehicle, then it’s time to move onto other methods. The methods listed below are effective and quite useful. You may however have to use more than one method if the odor is bad enough.

Use a good odor neutralizer

While your vehicle is running, and the air conditioning is on full speed, try taking a good neutralizer and spraying it down the vents near the front windshield. This will send the neutralizer down into the air intake system. If you’re unsure what brand you should choose, the products listed below are all great choices:

  •  Adam’s Odor Neutralizer
  • ArmorAll Fresh FX
  • Febreze
  • Zero Odor Pro
  • RMR Odor-X

These are just a few of the many effective neutralizers sold on the market today. There’s many more to choose from.

Replace the cabin filter

In addition to spraying neutralizer down the vents and into the intake system, you can also change the cabin filter as well. If you don’t know what the cabin filter is, this accessory filters the air that’s blown into the cabin area of the vehicle. The cabin filter can filter out dust, dirt, pollen, and even cigarette smoke. Cabin filters are usually pretty inexpensive and fairly easy to replace. On many vehicles, you have to unfasten the glove department to get to the cabin filter. If you don’t know how to replace this filter, you can go to YouTube for instructional videos.

Shampoo or steam the interior of your vehicle

Using a shampooer or a steam cleaner to clean your vehicle’s interior can also help remove smoke smells. A shampooer is mainly designed for the carpet in your vehicle where as a steam cleaner can be used to do it all including the carpet, the seats, the ceiling, and the fabric on the doors. It really is a very versatile machine. In fact, there are several reasons why people choose to use a steam cleaner over a shampooer.

  1. Steam cleaners don’t use toxic chemicals.
  2. Steam tends to penetrate much deeper into the fabric than a shampooer can.
  3. Steam cleaners can hit those hard to reach spots much easier than a shampooer.
  4. There’s no scrubbing involved when you use a steam cleaner. Rubbing the interior of your vehicle can result in signs of wear and tear.
  5. Steam cleaners are fast and tend to be a little bit more effective.

Now, that doesn’t mean that shampooers aren’t useful tools, because they are. They can get rid of those hard to remove smoke odors, but they’re usage is limited, and they use cleaners with chemicals that can be harmful to your health.

Odor Bomb

One of the most effective methods is the odor bomb. Odor bombs don’t just get rid of the odor, it gets rid of it for good. Although an odor bomb works well, it’s important to note that the fumes from the odor bomb should not be inhaled. Make sure you use it outdoors, and make sure you ventilate your vehicle well after the odor bomb gets done doing its job. The Dakota Odor Bomb Car Odor Eliminator is one of the best choices on the market today. This product comes in an easy-to-use spray can and will not result in a lingering fragrance. Simply spray it in your vehicle, and let it destroy the odor.

Remove those smoke odors naturally

Steam cleaners are an excellent alternative to neutralizers, odor bombs, and shampooers. However, if you don’t have access to a steam cleaner, there are other alternatives to using chemicals including natural choices. Some of these include:

1. White Vinegar

White vinegar is an excellent alternative to chemical cleaners. In fact, it works especially well for removing the smell of cigarette smoke from a vehicle. So, how do you use it? It’s very simple. Pour the white vinegar into a bowl, and let that bowl sit in your vehicle overnight. You’ll be surprised how well this remedy works.

2. Baking Soda

Baking soda has multiple uses, and one of these includes removing the smell of smoke from a vehicle. To use this method, simply sprinkle a little bit of baking soda here and there on your vehicle’s carpet and other areas of the floor. Let the baking soda sit for a bit and then vacuum it up.

3. Charcoal

This is a method that not very many people know about. Charcoal can actually help remove smoke smell from your vehicle. Simply put a bowl of charcoal in your vehicle for 2 to 3 days. The charcoal will absorb the odor and help leave your vehicle odor free. Charcoal is inexpensive and can be purchased almost anywhere.

4. Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits work wonders when it comes to getting the smell of cigarette smoke out of your car. All you have to do is take the peels from oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and/or limes and sprinkle them on the floor of your vehicle. Leave these peels lying on the floor of your vehicle for a few days. Not only will you eliminate the odor of smoke, you car will smell fresh and fruity.

5. Coffee Grounds

Coffee works great well for covering up the smell of cigarettes, but it doesn’t get rid of the odor for good. This is why using coffee to eliminate the smell of smoke should be used in combination with another method. To use coffee to mask the smell of smoke, sprinkle coffee beans on the floor of your vehicle, and let them sit for a few days.

6. Dryer Sheets

Take a few dryer sheets and wipe down the interior of your vehicle. Dryer sheets will deodorize the inside of your vehicle. It’s important to note though that you can only wipe down your vehicle’s interior if your vehicle has cloth seats. Do not use dryer sheets on leather.

7. Cat Litter

Just with the charcoal, cat litter will absorb the odor of cigarette smoke if you set a bowl of it in your vehicle for a few days. Cat litter is inexpensive and easy to use. When purchasing a bag of cat little, make sure you choose a product that advertises advance odor protection.

A Final Thought

When you’re trying to get the smell of smoke out of your vehicle, make sure you always start with the beginning steps, and then if need to be, use one or more of the methods listed here. If you’re concerned about using chemical cleaners in your vehicle, then try going with the more natural options. However, the methods involving chemical cleaners tend to work more effectively than the more natural options. Above all, if you’re going to let someone smoke in your car, have them roll down the window and take their butts with them. You’ll be glad you did.



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About Me

Hi there, I’m Rod. Honestly, I don’t do much cleaning around the house (and until recently – my car)…

But I’ve always been strict and disciplined in keeping with my workspace clean and organized; my office, my desk, my bookshelfs, etc. A lot of that discipline comes from studying Lean methodologies in the past.

One thing I’ve struggled with has been keeping my car clean! So lately I started buying a few items and putting in some work!

I became interested with “best practices” for detailing a car, and that’s what you’ll find on this website. Hope this information helps you!

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