How to get the smoke smell out of your car?

A helpful guide on how to get stale smoke smell out of your car permanently in 2021

Whether you just bought a car with the smell of smoke or you smoke in your vehicle. Getting the smell of smoke out of your car can be a chore. The stale smell of cigarettes can get into all the crevices of your car and cause you to be embarrassed to have any passengers in your car.  

Is your wife tired of the smell of smoke in the car?

By Maurice Rodriguez
November 1, 2021

We have put together a well-researched guide to getting rid of those old smoke smells for good. We tested and researched the best step-by-step guide that will help you get your car smelling like new in no time. The process is quite simple and can be done in an afternoon. The ideal time to do this is in fair weather when it’s dry and sunny outside. This way you can air out your car and bring in fresh air.

Items needed before starting:

  • Spray bottle – any clean spray bottle
  • Microfiber towels
  • Cabin Filter
  • Vacuum
  • Distilled White Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Carpet Shampoo
  • Dryer sheets
  • Black Ice Bomb
  • Favorite Air freshener
  • Optional – Essential Oil Diffuser

How to get smoke out of car list:

  1. Open all the windows and doors and air out the car
  2. Clean out car
  3. Clean out ashtray
  4. Replace in-cabin filter
  5. Wipe down all hard surfaces
  6. Liberally apply baking soda to soft surfaces
  7. Vacuum out the baking soda
  8. Use Dryer sheets
  9. Shampoo carpets and cloth upholstery
  10. Use a Car fogger
  11. Use an air freshener
  12. Optional: Essential Oil Diffuser

Step 1: Open all the windows and doors and air out the car

The first step to getting those smoke smells out is to pick a day where it is sunny, dry, and warm. You want to air out your car by opening all the windows and doors. This is an important step in replacing the old air with clean fresh air.

Step 2: Clean out car

Remove any trash, garbage, old cigarettes butts, or anything smelly out of your car. Disposing of any offending items will ensure you aren’t ‘creating’ any new odors. Make sure you check under the seats and in the trunk. Especially if you have children, they can hide food, milk, or trash in strange places.

Step 3: Clean out the ashtray

Throw away any old cigarette butts and wipe down the ashtray with a moist paper towel. Any lingering ashes or tar will eventually cause the smoke smell to return when the car heats up and activates these odor-causing offenders.

Step 4: Replace in-cabin filter

Replacing your air filter will stop smoke smells trapped in your air ventilation system from recirculating those bad smells back into your cabin. Besides smoke smells, a new air filter will reduce musty smells, pollen if you have allergies, and improve the airflow in your car cabin for cleaner air. The average cost of an air filter is $15 to $25 if you replace it yourself. You can check Breathe Easy with activated charcoal for extra odor control.

Spearhead Premium Breathe Easy Cabin Filter

Check these activated charcoal air filters

Step 5: Wipe down all hard surfaces

Vinegar Spray 1:1 ratio

Wiping down all the hard surfaces with a microfiber cloth and a diluted solution of white distilled vinegar and water will go a long way to neutralize any lingering odors. A vinegar solution is a relatively cheap way to clean just about anything without breaking your budget if you can’t afford a professional product. It is cheap, effective, and you don’t have to worry about whether it will hurt the surfaces of your car.

Multi-Purpose Cleaner

If you have some funds in your budget for a good multi-surface cleaner from the professional detailers at CarGuys it is well worth it. This product can clean leather, vinyl, carpet upholstery, rubber, and plastic. It is water-based and does not need to be rinsed and does not leave a residue.

Step 6: Liberally apply baking soda to soft surfaces

Remove all mats and apply baking soda outside of the car in a place with no wind. Then liberally apply baking soda on all cloth and carpets and let soak for 30 minutes. Make sure you break up any large clumps of baking soda before applying.

Step 7: Vacuum out the baking soda

After letting the baking soda soak up embedded odors vacuum all the baking soda. This process is important and could be repeated if the smoke smell is very strong. Baking soda is very cheap and being thorough with this step will give you excellent results.

Step 8: Use Dryer sheets

Rub dryer sheets on cloth surfaces to impart a clean fresh scent. Lavender scented dryer sheets can also add a nice touch to your ride.

Step 9: Shampoo carpets and cloth upholstery

Shampooing your mats, floors, and cloth upholstery will clean any stains, odors, and musty smells out of your cars soft surfaces. You can take it to your local car wash and do it yourself with one of the shampooers or you can buy a product designed to clean car upholstery. We found that the Chemical Guys Easy-to-Use Drill Brush Carpet & Upholstery Fabric Cleaning Kit is very effective and you get everything you need to get the job done.

Step 10: Use a Car fogger

This step may seem extreme but we have had very effective results with these products. They require you to use them while your car is running, with the air recirculation on high and discharging a fogger in the car for 30 minutes. **CAUTION** YOU CANNOT USE THESE PRODUCTS WHILE THE CAR IS OCCUPIED. These products are intended to be used with no one in the car when the fogger is activated. We recommend Meguiar’s Whole Car Air Re-Fresher Odor Eliminator Mist in Black Chrome Scent. The scent is a very manly smell (think cologne) and does a very good job and is worth the money.

Step 11: Use an air freshener

Febreze Car Air Freshener

This is our favorite car air freshener from Febreze. They clip into your car’s air vents and provide a nice smell when your car air is running. You can control the scent by opening and closing your car’s air vent. They last up to 30 days each and come in a variety of scents.

• Ozium Air Sanitizer

Ozium is a small can air spray that can sanitize, deodorize, and eliminate stale smoke odors by using a special formula developed to kill bacteria, and germs in hospital settings. It can be applied in short sprays as it is very powerful and is VERY strong. You should apply a small amount and then close all the windows and doors and exit the vehicle. After 15 minutes’ air out the cabin for another 15 minutes to remove any lingering odors.

Optional: Car Essential Oil Diffuser with 3 Natural Essential Oils

A car essential oil diffuser can provide a continuous relaxing environment on your next commute. The diffuser has three settings to control the amount the intensity of the scent in your cabin. The diffuser comes with a sticky pad that sticks to your dash. It is wireless and takes about two hours to charge via USB. It comes with three essential oils that provide you with at least a few months of aromatherapy. The three relaxing all-natural essential oil scents are:

  • Cologne – Smells like cool water for men
  • Floral – A lavender, fruity scent
  • Marine – A clean citrus scent

A happy wife.

Conclusion: We hope this guide has been helpful in getting the smell of smoke out of your car. This is a long process but in the end, you will have a great smelling car that will be inviting to spend time in. If you followed all these steps and didn’t get all the smell out, you may have to repeat some of these steps until you succeed.

We are all things cars.

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