How To Get Cigarette Smell Out Of Car? 5 Ways

If you’re a smoker you may not realize it, but most of the time you stink. You, your clothes, your house and definitely your car. Getting rid of cigarette smoke along with other smoke odors can be a real headache. See smokers don’t smell what non-smokers can smell so it may go unnoticed until someone else points it out.

Effects of Cigarette Smoke in Your car

Not only does smoke cause your vehicle to sting but can also be a health hazard. Secondhand and thirdhand smoke can cause cancer just as quickly as smoking the cigarette yourself and we don’t want our children breathing this in. A 2010 study reveals that third-hand smoke produces carcinogens in the air.

Another thing smoke odor can cause is a decrease in your car’s value. According to researchers, a car’s value will be decreased by 7.7% if it has been smoked in so that itself is a huge reason to want to remove any smoke odor or sign of smoking in your vehicle. Especially if you plan on selling and upgrading your car later on.

A woman smoking with a non-smoker beside her.

Well, what do we do about it? The answer is either to stop smoking or get rid of the smell. I choose to find a way for option number 2, to get rid of the smell instead of stopping smoking.

If you’re like me who doesn’t have the extra money to call in a technician or someone that specializes in this but they are some out there, in today’s life I think we can all agree that we live a fast-paced lifestyle, always on the go with very little spare time. We need to realize that some odors can’t be compared to dog odor or something and simple cleaning will not do the trick.

5 ways to get rid of Cigarette Smoke

Most of us probably spend a lot of time in our vehicles commuting to jobs or running errands. For those of us who smoke in it, it can get pretty stinky and who’s got the time to clean it, right? Well, today we are going to cover the top 5 ways to get the smoke smell out of your car.

Woman covering her nose from bad smell.

One of them does suggest that you let a solution set for around a total of 12 hours so be prepared to use this option on a free day where you will not be using your automobile as much. I’ve mentioned some name-brand cleaners I like to use but feel free to use the brands of your choice.

💡 Make sure you have removed all clothing items, books, extra rugs, etc. You can lay these items out in the sun after washing so that they can also air out, especially if you are planning on putting them back in your vehicle.

1. Avoid Smoking Inside Your Car

First of all one of the top ways of course would be to not smoke in your car. If you can get used to not smoking inside your vehicle this would be great and this eliminates your problem altogether. This is something I’ve tried to do many times, but it’s hard if you’re always on the run or in a hurry that cigarette can be very important on the way to work.

But however, if you choose not to smoke in your vehicle but someone else owned the car and smoked in it before you bought it, this could be a problem so we have other options. Unfortunately, they may take a little time but are all very efficient and may save you money in the long run.

2. Clean The Windows and Upholstery

Have you ever noticed you can’t see out your windows because of glare or smear? Well, that cloudy residue is smoke residue. Clean the windows with Windex or vinegar and water is another good solution, clean all upholstery thoroughly with an auto fabric-safe cleaner of your choice (Arm and Hammer is a good brand and they make several items with a good value), empty all the ashtrays and wash them and dispose of all the trash.

Cleaning car window.

If you can prevent yourself from using the ashtrays in your car after you get them clean, spray the fabric freshener of your choice afterward, I prefer Oxi Clean or Downy, and use auto incense to prolong the clean smell. I prefer a smoke odor eliminator like Oxi Clean.

Shampoo the carpet with a safe carpet cleaner for your automobile, Oxi Clean makes a safe cleaner for upholstery that has a smoke eliminator, you can do this by hand or with a shampooer, and leave the windows down to allow the carpet to dry and the smell to air out of your vehicle. If you choose you can use a Shop-Vac to help suck up some of the moisture and dry your carpet even faster.

4. Clean the Air Filter

Clean the vent system in your car. Use a mild and mildew type cleaner and be prepared to let this set up for 12-24 hrs. Also, change all the filters. If you’re not sure how to do this refer to your automobile’s owner manual, it should show you what and where these filters can be changed and how to change them.

Also, replace air fresheners, try putting some in the vent area. You can also place fresh cinnamon sticks or orange peels under the seat or somewhere it can set and not be knocked around.

5. Home remedies

Last but not least and definitely the top way is home remedies such as baking soda and vinegar solution, activated charcoal, coffee grinds, and lots of others just do a little research. My favorite is the baking soda and vinegar, I have used this many times and it definitely has been the most efficient. Details on the baking soda and vinegar solution for your vehicle are described below.

Baking Soda & Vinegar Solution

So after you have cleaned out your car and gotten rid of all the cigarette butts and trash along with old air fresheners and cleaned the windows, make sure you clean the vents and change the filters.

  • When this is all done take a 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 water solution and spray liberally on your carpet and upholstery. Don’t be shy it won’t hurt anything.
  • Now using Armor Hammer baking soda sprinkle generously on all the carpets and seats where you sprayed your vinegar solution. Sprinkle it everywhere it won’t hurt anything.
  • Next, take a plastic tarp or wrap, I used garbage bags and place them over the top of the baking soda and vinegar solution so that your carpet and seats are covered with the solution. This locks in your solution to trap the odors into the baking soda.
  • With the windows down let this solution sit about for 12 hours or so. When you come back remove the plastic and vacuum up your baking soda and vinegar solution. For light odors, you can sprinkle again with baking soda only and let sit for another hour or so then vacuum and enjoy.

For deeper, stronger odors you can do the whole baking soda and vinegar solution again. The solution of baking soda and vinegar should have pulled all the smoke out of the fabrics, leaving your car smelling brand new again.

Our verdict

I’m pretty confident that these options listed above can remove the smoke odor from any vehicle or household. I’ve personally used it for myself on both. Some of you may have questions you can refer to other articles related to this subject by doing a Google search. There is a lot of stuff out there.

A woman placing a Yankee vent clip for car fragrance.

Remember to use safety when using any chemicals. Some may opt to use all-natural things and that’s fine. One of my favorite car air fresheners is by Yankee candle, they make clip-ons and other really cool products to make your car smell nice and new again.

Experiment, as long as your chemicals are safe for the type of surface you are cleaning, then you will be fine. Don’t rush the cleaning process, be patient it will pay off in the end.

In Summary

To sum it up let’s go over these steps in a more simplified way. First, you want to clean all garbage and cigarette butts out of your vehicle, wash all the windows, and change the vent filters. After that will be the deep cleaning of the carpets and upholstery in whichever way you have decided to do so. Pretty simple, huh?

Just remember to always enjoy yourself, be creative, and have fun. In the end, hard work is always rewarded, your vehicle will be smoke odor-free and you will be much happier. To continue having this smoke odor-free vehicle keep your ashtrays emptied or try not to use them at all.

Also, remember to roll your windows down from time to time and let your vehicle air out. I have listed some resources here at the end you can refer to, also there is a lot of other content out there, use your resources and do a little research especially before selling and losing that 7-9% in value.

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About Matthew Webb

Hi, I am Matthew! I am a dedicated car nerd! During the day, I am a journalist, at night I enjoy working on my 2 project cars. I have been a car nerd all my life, and am excited to share my knowledge with you!

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