Removing Smoke Smells from a Car

Removing the Smell of Cigarette Smoke in the Car

If you’ve got a smoker in your car, you might just have a nasty odor in your car.

Cigarette smoke is one of the most pervasive odors you can encounter and it can be tough to get rid of once it’s soaked into the upholstery of a car.

So many people have had the unfortunate experience of buying a used car; complete with new car smell, only to find after a few weeks’ time that the real scent of their car is used ashtray. Even if you are a smoker, you don’t really want your car to smell bad and there are great ways to prevent the odor from sinking in and taking hold inside the car.

Your attack on the odor will be three-fold. You have to remove the smell, improve the scent of the car and prevent it from coming back. If you allow someone to smoke in your car, you should take the following steps to keep the odor from sticking around.

Removing the Smell:

  1. Empty the ashtray of cigarette butts and ashes at the end of each day. The stale tobacco odor can be largely prevented if you keep the ashtray clean and empty. Just having a pack of cigarettes sitting in the car, especially if it’s a hot day, can make your car stinky in no time.
  2. Keep the windows open or cracked as much as possible if you are smoking in the car. The smoke will go out the window instead of getting trapped in the car.
  3. Use an odor control air freshener. There are products designed to eliminate odors rather than just mask them. Make these part of your process when cleaning and deodorizing your car.

Clean the Car:

Then there is vacuuming and cleaning the interior of the car. Smoke smell is so prevalent that this is really something that should be done weekly. If you can’t manage weekly, get to this as often as possible and occasionally spring for getting your car detailed.

If smoking isn’t allowed in your car, but you are stuck with the lingering odor of cigarette smoke and ashes, you can take a more direct and complete approach.

  1. Start with the floor mats. Remove the mats and shampoo them as best you can. Any upholstered surface in your vehicle is going to be a magnet for odors; smoke and otherwise. Get the mats as clean as you can and leave them outside to dry while you work your way through the car.
  2. Hit the seats hard. Use the best upholstery cleaner you can find for your seats. Take your time and do a thorough job, because most of the trapped odors in the car are emanating from the seats. If you can do this job on a day when you can leave the car open and get a breeze going, the job will go much better and the results will be much better smelling.
  3. If you have a vinyl or leather interior, use appropriate cleaners for the type you have.
  4. Not only do you want to clean the seats but give the door paneling, dashboard, gear shift, etc. a good cleaning too.
  5. Vacuum everything. There may be ashes trapped in all kinds of places in your car. Thoroughly vacuum every part of the car-getting into the tightest spots and removing anything that might contribute to the odor in your car.
  6. Leave the car open for as long as you can. If you can have the car covered from the elements and safe, like in a garage be sure to keep the doors and windows open whenever you can. This will naturally aerate the vehicle and help dissipate any residual odors.

Freshen the Air:

Once you’ve tackled the odor the best you can, it’s time to freshen the air in your car so you can mask any small odor that might be left after all your hard work. Smoke odors are hard to get rid of, but not impossible. If there is any stink left, or if you are still smoking in the car, you can try some of these remedies:

  • Hang an air freshener. Rear view mirror ornaments have come a long way and are available in a ton of scents.
  • Spray air fresheners and odor removers onto the seats and carpet. (check to make sure it won’t damage the material first).
  • You can also purchase air fresheners that fit in the air ducts of your car.

With some elbow grease and a little persistence, you can fully eliminate lingering cigarette smoke odors from your car.