How To Get Smoke Smell Out Of A Car

The smell of cigarette smoke in a car is usually not too inviting. Here is a guide on how to get rid of cigarette odor from your car easily.

How To Remove Smoke Smell From Your Car

There’s nothing quite like the new car smell in a vehicle, but it never seems to last as long as we would like. Everyday travel, eating in the car, and having kids hop in after soccer practice can all add to the unpleasant smells that occur in the vehicle.

However, nothing is quite as hard to remove as cigarette smoke. Do you know how to get the smoke smell out of a car, so you can restore it to like-new condition?

To remove the smoke smell, you must first clean out the vehicle. All trash, particles, and fallen ash must be removed. You will also need to detail the entire interior, focusing heavily on the upholstery and air vents. You can purchase commercial cleaning products or choose a natural home remedy for odor removal. 

In this article, we outline the steps to remove the smoke smell from your vehicle. We also cover a few home remedies you might try. 

How to Get Smoke Smell Out of a Car

Step1: Remove Debris

Vacuum Clean Car

Before you can get rid of any obnoxious smells in the car, you must first clean it out. If there is trash and debris lying around, the smells will permeate the cabin once again.

After you remove the general dirt, pay attention to any surfaces where ash might have fallen. Get out your vacuum, and make sure nothing remains. 

Step 2: Clean the Ashtray

Car Ashtray Cigarette

If you are using the ashtray, it’s time to clean it out. After all, the smells will never disappear with an ashtray that’s full.

Remove the ashtray from the vehicle and wash it out thoroughly. Leave it out of the vehicle for at least 24 hours to dry and air before putting it back in. 

Step 3: Detail Interior Surfaces

Car Detail Interior

All of the interior surfaces must be cleaned for the smell to dissipate. You can use an automotive multi-surface cleaner on the majority of hard plastics. You must also clean the windows with a special glass cleaner. 

Make sure you choose an appropriate cleaner based on the type of upholstery you have. If you have leather seating, it will be detrimental to use cloth upholstery cleaner. 

Step 4: Replace the Cabin Filter

Cabin Air Filter

The cabin filter is responsible for removing allergens and contaminants from the interior of the vehicle. If you smoke in the car, this cabin filter is also soaking up the smell from cigarettes. 

Even if you aren’t a smoker, you will want to replace the cabin filter on a regular basis. Find the recommended service schedule in your owner’s manual. 

RELATED: 5 Symptoms of a Bad Cabin Air Filter

Get Smoke Smell Out of Car Vents

If you have cleaned the entire vehicle and still smell smoke, it might be coming from the HVAC vents. You can purchase an air vent cleaner to get deep into the system for a complete clean.

Spray the cleaner into the vents and turn on the air conditioning at full blast. Make sure the air recycler is also turned on. Allow the system to run for about 15 minutes to remove the odors. 

Get Smoke Smell out of Leather Seats

The leather seats require more care than the typical cloth upholstery. Cigarette smell can infiltrate the leather seating and create a problem when you are trying to remove the smell. 

We recommend opting for a special leather cleaner. Some products even provide a detachable brush to get deeper into the surface. Start by using a minimal amount of leather cleaner and gradually work your way up until the smell is removed. 

RELATED: 8 Car Odors & Smells You Shouldn’t Ignore

Home Remedies to Remove Smoke Smell from Car

1. White Vinegar

If you look at most household cleaning recipes, you will find white vinegar as an ingredient. Not only is the product inexpensive, but it contains acetic acid, making it ideal for removing smells. 

You can pour some white vinegar into a deep bowl or cup and leave it overnight in the car. When you come back in the morning, the cigarette smell should be dramatically lessened. You can also use it to clean off some of the surfaces. 

2. Baking Soda

If you want to remove smells in your home, it’s common to use baking soda. The powder absorbs smells with ease, which is why an opened box is often placed in the refrigerator.

You can also use baking soda to remove the smells in your car. Sprinkle some of the powder around on the carpeted surfaces and cloth upholstery. Let it sit for a few minutes before vacuuming it up. 

3. Charcoal

If you have a smelly home, you might have used charcoal briquettes in the past to freshen up the environment. Charcoal is known for eliminating smells, not simply masking them.

If you have some extra charcoal, you can also put it in a bowl in the vehicle for a few days. It should absorb the cigarette smell with ease. 

4. Citrus Fruits

Everyone loves the smell of citrus fruits, although it does have the tendency to make people hungry. If you want to brighten up the interior of your car, you could turn to some popular citrus fruits.

Use the peels of oranges, limes or lemons in your car for a pleasant odor. You can leave them inside the cabin for a few days for an invigorating experience. 

5. Coffee Grounds

The grounds of coffee are another food product that is known for removing odors. It’s also a great smell to help you wake up in the morning.

After you brew your coffee, keep the grounds to place in the vehicle. While it won’t eliminate the odor, the overpowering smell of coffee will help to mask the cigarette smoke. 

6. Dryer Sheets

While dryer sheets are commonly used in your laundry, there’s a purpose for them in the car as well. You can wipe down cloth seats with dryer sheets to eliminate some odor. 

While it won’t properly eliminate the smell in the car entirely, it will help to deodorize the car. Plus, you can choose a variety of scents based on your preferences. 

7. Cat Litter

The final home remedy is good old cat litter. You know how well it works to soak up oil in the driveway, but it can also be used to remove some odors, including cigarette smell. 

Put some cat litter in a bowl and leave it in the vehicle for a few days. If needed, repeat the process with fresh litter to get rid of stubborn smells.

Written by:

Magnus is the owner and main author of MechanicBase. He has been working as a mechanic for over 10 years, and the majority of them specialized in advanced diagnostics and troubleshooting. Certified Automotive Diagnostic Technician.