Have you ever looked at a used car only to open the door and be taken aback by the smell of cigarette smoke? Smoking in a vehicle permeates every surface in the car, and many people think it is impossible to rid the car of that smell. Getting the smoke smell out of a vehicle is not easy, but it is doable if you have the right supplies and some patience. If you have a vehicle that you need to rid of cigarette smoke, then keep reading. We’ll tell you exactly how to get rid of that smoke smell and have the car smelling great again.
7 Steps To Remove The Smoke Smell From Your Car Interior
Are you wondering how to get the cigarette smell out of a car? Removing the smoke smell will not be easy, but your work will be worth it in the end. Doing the job right requires several steps and the appropriate supplies. Here is what you need to do to get that cigarette smell out of your vehicle.
#1. Remove All Ashes & Trash
If you want to get rid of smoke smell in your car, you first need to rid your vehicle of anything that might be causing the smell. This includes getting rid of any ashes or trash left in your vehicle. Clean out the ashtrays, as old ashes will continue to put more smoke smell into your car. Similarly, trash in your vehicle can hang on to those odors. Papers, cups, food waste, and any other trash in your vehicle need to be cleaned completely. Once you have eliminated the potential ongoing sources of the smoke odor, you can move on to the next step.
#2. Thoroughly Vacuum The Vehicle
The next step of the process requires vacuuming all the soft surfaces of the vehicle. You should thoroughly vacuum all carpet, floor mats, cloth seats, and other upholstery. You can even pass the vacuum over leather car seats to remove any small ash particles that may be hiding in them. Use the proper vacuum tools to get into all the nooks, crevices, and other small areas of the vehicle. You can even use a brush tool on the vacuum to go over the hard surfaces, air vents, and other parts of the vehicle. Once you have completely vacuumed the car, then you should have removed all debris, old ash, and other particles that might be contributing to a lingering smoke smell in the vehicle. Now it is time to move to the next step.
#3. Use Baking Soda On Carpet And Upholstery
Baking soda is a cheap odor neutralizer, and it can help remove smoke smell from the carpet and upholstery in your vehicle. Sprinkle some baking soda over the carpets, floor mats, and cloth seats in the vehicle. You can even gently rub some baking soda over the headliner, as many people forget that the headliner can also trap smoke smells in the vehicle. Let the baking soda sit overnight. You can also place a couple of open containers of baking soda in the vehicle to help with odor absorption. Once the baking soda has sat overnight, you should vacuum it up. Vacuum all the car upholstery again to remove all the baking soda from the interior surfaces. Here is a pro tip — you can also place open containers of coffee grounds or citrus peels in the vehicle overnight instead of baking soda.
#4. Clean All Hard Surfaces
Next, you will want to thoroughly clean all the hard surfaces in the vehicle to remove smoke residue and lingering smell from those surfaces. This includes the dashboard, steering wheel, seat belt latches, car windows, and any other surface that you can wipe down. You can use a microfiber cloth along with the cleaning product of your choice. Some people even use a water and white vinegar solution when cleaning the hard surfaces. The vinegar will help remove the smoke residue and smell from those surfaces. Grapefruit or limes can also be used as the citric acid in these can help cut through the residue, and some people wipe down these surfaces with dryer sheets as well. Don’t forget to clean inside the glove box, and now is the time to use a good leather cleaner and conditioner on the leather seats.
#5. Replace Cabin Air Filter
The cabin air filter helps to clean the air that circulates in your vehicle when you run the air conditioning. If the car has a smoke smell, then the cabin filter is likely saturated with smoke smell also. Replacing this filter is a must to remove the smell completely, and a new filter will also help keep the air in the vehicle clean and free of dust and other particles. Some cabin air filters have charcoal in them to help eliminate odors as the air passes through the filter. If you are trying to remove the smoke smell from a used vehicle, then you should get a charcoal cabin filter if one is available. You should refer to your owner’s manual for additional details on the type of cabin filter that is required for the car.
#6. Deodorize A/C System
In addition to the cabin air filter, other parts of your car’s air system can also become permeated with smoke. This includes the vents and passages in the car’s A/C system. When attempting to remove a smoke smell from the car, you will need to thoroughly deodorize the A/C system. This is not an extremely difficult process, although you will need the right products. Deodorizing the A/C system starts by purchasing a deodorizer that can be recirculated through the system. Start by opening all the windows in the vehicle and locating the A/C return vent. Turn the A/C system to the recirculate setting, and set the fan speed to high. Spray the deodorizer into the return vent, and let the system run for a few minutes. Turn the car off and let it sit with the windows down for at least an hour for the deodorizer to settle. If you are unsure of how to properly perform this deodorization, you can contact your dealership for assistance.
#7. Use Deodorizing Air Freshener
Finally, once all the steps above have been completed, you can use a deodorizing air freshener to help keep your car smelling fresh and clean. The best car air fresheners don’t just cover up the smell of the smoke, but they help to eliminate any lingering smells that might still be there. Adam’s Odor Neutralizer is a great option if you are looking for the right air freshener. It can help eliminate pet odors, smoke smells, and any other foul smells in your vehicle. Keep your car cleaned regularly, and do not allow anyone to smoke in the car again. If you follow these tips, your car will smell great for years to come!
How Long Does It Take To Remove A Cigarette Smell From Your Car?
The length of time it takes to remove a cigarette smell from your car depends on a few factors. If the previous owner smoked in the car for years, it would take longer to remove the smell than a car that was only smoked in a couple of times. If you need to perform an extremely thorough detail on the car as outlined in the steps above, it will usually take a few days to remove the smoke smell. The process can be time-consuming, but it will be worth it in the end. In some cases, it might even take weeks before the smell is completely gone.
Cost Of Professional Car Interior Detailing
If this all seems like too much for you to tackle on your own, you can always pay a professional to detail your vehicle. However, remember that smoke smell removal is not included in the cost of most car detail jobs. An average car detail will cost you $150 to $250, and this includes both the interior and exterior surfaces. It typically includes vacuuming, cleaning all hard surfaces, washing, waxing, and sometimes shampooing the seats and carpets. If you want a full deodorizing, then the cost will be more.
It can cost $400 to $500 for smoke odor elimination. Some professionals use an ozone machine to remove the smoke smell from the interior. Others perform a full detail and utilize deodorizing cleansers to remove the smell. Since it requires more work, the cost will be more for a detail that includes the elimination of a smoke smell.
The Bottom Line
If your car smells like smoke, there are steps you can take to eliminate that smell. The process can be lengthy and painstaking, but the results will be worth it. You will need to thoroughly clean, vacuum, and deodorize every square inch of the vehicle. Plus, you’ll need to replace the cabin filter and deodorize the A/C system. You can take a DIY approach and do the work yourself, or you can pay a professional detailer to do the work for you. Since removing smoke odors is difficult, be prepared to pay a detailer several hundred dollars for the job.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it possible to get the smoke smell out of a car?
Yes, it is possible to get the smoke smell out of a car, but it is not easy in some cases. It requires a thorough cleaning of every surface of the vehicle, replacement of air filters and cabin filters, and deodorizing of the A/C system. You might even find that you need to replace the carpet, headliner, or even the cloth seats in the most severe cases. The process can take several days, but you can end up with a vehicle that no longer smells like cigarette smoke.
What neutralizes the smell of smoke?
There are several odor neutralizers that will help neutralize the smell of smoke. Baking soda, coffee grounds, dryer sheets, grapefruits, limes, and a few other things will help neutralize the odor. Sometimes a combination of these items will get the best result. In addition to these items, many odor neutralizer sprays are available in the car care section of most auto parts stores. These smoke odor eliminators have been developed to help eliminate odors instead of simply masking them with a different odor.
What do car dealers use to get rid of smoke smell?
Car dealers often use an ozone machine to help get rid of smoke smell in used cars. They also use industrial-strength deodorizers that remove the smoke smell from the vehicle. However, in addition to these things, they perform a thorough cleaning and detail of the vehicle. If the car is not cleaned properly, the smoke smell will return because it is trapped inside the soft surfaces of the car. The smoke residue will also be trapped on the hard surfaces of the vehicle. A thorough cleaning and detail, combined with the odor eliminators, will get the car smelling fresh and clean again.