10 Simple Ways: How To Get Smoke Smell Out Of Car


The Ultimate Guide To DIY Car Smoke Odor Removal

Don’t you just hate it when the interior of your car starts smelling stale and funky? And when it comes to stale smells, cigarette smoke is one of the worst. It is so bad; even smokers don’t like it! But as you probably know, you don’t have to be a smoker to end up with a car that smells like a gentlemen’s lounge from the 1930’s.

All you need is a few rides with a friend or relative who has the habit. Or maybe you had the acute misfortune of buying a car from a chain-smoker. That is reason enough to scamper around for a car detailing smoke odor removal service.

But hiring a pro to remove smoke odor from car interior is best left as a last resort unless your car is begging for a detailing even without the smoke smell! Often, you can get the job done on your own, and save up some $$ in the process as well.

You could invoke your inner MacGyver and improvise some DIY deodorizers, or you could try some home detailing products out there. Either way, we got you covered with this in-depth guide on how to eliminate cigarette smoke odor in car:

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1. The Initial Sweep Up

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The best thing to do first of all is to clean the interior of your car thoroughly. Tobacco ash and cigarette butts are one of the main sources of smoky odors. Scour all the nooks and crannies with your car vacuum. And of course, do not forget to empty the ashtray (duh!).

One of the main challenges when dealing with car interiors is the different kinds of surfaces you have to clean. If the smoke has permeated into the upholstery, you might need to take further action.

But before that, take out the mats and clean them thoroughly using a vacuum or carpet cleaner.

As a final step, try hanging a new air freshener or vent clip. If you are lucky, the odors may have vanished by now. If not, at least the intensity should be a lot lesser than what it was in the beginning. But to learn how to get smoke smell out of car more effectively, check out the following steps.

2. Clean Out Your Car HVAC System

Unless you are an expert mechanic, you cannot perform a deep clean on the air circulation system inside your car. But you can still try to flush out the stale air. Open all the windows and doors. Start the engine, put the car in park and turn on the AC. Leave it in the coldest setting with the fan at full speed.

Also, don’t forget to make sure that the air recirculation system is disabled. This should help blow out any stale air inside the car.

If the odors persist, you can spray a deodorizer into the air vents located inside your car. Do this while the AC is still on full power. Spray something, like this Chemical Guys Odor Eliminator, directly into the air vents. Repeat the process until you no longer smell the tobacco smoke.

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3. Replace the Cabin Air Filter

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This component needs to be routinely replaced annually as it can get clogged with dust, mold, and of course tobacco ash and smoke particles as well. Replacing your old cabin air filter may go some way in solving your tobacco smell problems.

Check the owner’s manual for your car to figure out where the cabin air filter is located. It is usually hidden inside the hood, or sometimes behind the glovebox. Unclip or unscrew your way to it, and pull it free from the socket.

If it looks grimy and dirty, replace it with the new one you bought. EPAuto has some competent filters that suit a wide range of cars from different manufacturers. Once you put everything back together, use the vacuum and rags to clean up any dust or dirt.

Related: 10 Steps: How To Clean A Car Interior

4. Clean All Interior Surfaces

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Cigarette smoke has a nasty habit of seeping into upholstery and creating an oily film on windows and other hard surfaces. Unfortunately, you will probably need to clean all these surfaces if the odor intensity is particularly strong. This type of car detailing smoke odor removal is usually required if the car has been regularly used for smoking.

A simple home DIY option to deodorize your car upholstery is to use baking soda. This is especially effective when dealing with fabric-based upholstery. The process is simple: after cleaning all surfaces, apply baking soda powder liberally on the upholstery.

Allow it to remain for several minutes. Then use a vacuum to remove the stuff, and hopefully the smell as well.Cleaning the glass is a piece of cake. Use your regular glass cleaner. Invisible Glass is a very cheap yet effective option for home users.

Apply liberally on all the windows after cleaning, and wipe dry using the microfiber cloth. If you want a more organic option, vinegar mixed with water is a good option to clean glass surfaces.

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5. Five DIY Alternatives To Baking Soda

Coffee Grounds

This is the one for you if you love your daily cuppa latte or espresso. The idea here is to use the smell of coffee to overpower the cigarette smell. Now, this is obviously off the table if you detest the smell of coffee or don’t like the prospect of your car smelling like a Barista.

The process is simplicity itself: fill an open bowl with ground coffee beans and place it inside your car for a few hours, preferably overnight. Do note that this is an effective way to mask the smell of tobacco, not remove it outright.


You probably know about the absorbent qualities of charcoal already. This stuff can also be used to absorb smoke odors from your car. The method is identical to using coffee grounds but takes a longer time to work. There are different forms of charcoal out there.

In a pinch, you can try using the big lumps in a bowl.

Or you can buy activated charcoal, available in powder form from pet supply stores.

Even some cat litter products contain a lot of this stuff. So you can use that as well if you have cats. Add the charcoal product into a bowl and place inside the car for several days.

It should absorb all off-smells from the car. But this method does not add a fragrance or scent to replace the odors, so you will have to use your preferred car freshener, like these Little Trees.

Citrus Fruit Peels

If you want a more natural and fragrant alternative, citrus fruits can do the dirty job for you. Cut up some fresh lemon or orange peels and place them inside cups. Leave these cups inside your car for several days to get that pleasing all natural citrusy smell.


Do you still read print news in this day and age of online news? Well, that habit could help out in deodorizing your car. And it is also a great way to recycle old newsprint, instead of buying artificial chemicals.

Paper has absorbent qualities similar to charcoal but to a lesser degree. So this method might take a while. Crush several sheets of ordinary black and white newspaper and place them underneath your car seats. You should start seeing the effects within a few days.


A cup of ordinary white vinegar can remove smoke odors from your car interiors. Place it inside your cup holder and leave it overnight. The smoke smell should disappear within a few hours.

But this measure, while effective, comes at a minor cost. Your car will smell like vinegar for a little while. But fear not, the smell should dissipate pretty soon, and you can use a regular air freshener and some simple venting to accelerate that process.

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We have tried to minimize the use of harsh chemicals and focused more on organic and affordable measures in our guide on how to get smoke smell out of car. But if the problem persists, you may have to consider getting a professional car detailing service.

We hope you enjoyed this article and got to learn how to get smoke smell out of car. We are always eager to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Feel free to use the comments section below to connect with us. And if you enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it!

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