How to Get Rid of a Smoke Smell in Your Car

No one wants a ride that smells like cigarettes.

smoking in carFedortcov/Shutterstock

Whether you’ve purchased a used car that someone smoked in or finally kicked the bad habit yourself, you may be itching to learn how to get rid of that smoke smell in your car.

Air it out

The first thing you need to do to get rid of the smoke smell is clean, clean, clean! Drive your car to a well-ventilated area. Roll down the windows, remove any belongings, and take out every scrap of trash. Check out some more of the best tricks for cleaning the inside of your car.

Vacuum all surfaces

Next, remove seat covers and floor mats and begin to vacuum every inch of your interior. A handheld vacuum or a vacuum with an attachment meant for getting into the deepest nooks and crannies is ideal for this job. Vacuum your seat covers (or launder them at home or at a self-service laundry if the tag says they’re washable) and floor mats separately, after they’ve aired out in the sun for a bit.

Wash all surfaces

Now, combine white vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio in a spray bottle and spritz your upholstery. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe down all of the interior upholstery, interior side panels, steering wheel, dashboard, etc. You should also use a glass cleaner to remove any cigarette residue on your windows and windshield. Find out some things you should never, ever to do your car.


Next, start your engine, and turn the fan on high and the air conditioner to the lowest temperature. With the windows rolled down, allow the car’s air ventilation/filtration system to pull the smoke smell out of the car. With the fan and AC still on, spray an odor neutralizer into the vents. Repeat the process, but this time, turn the heat all the way up before spraying the neutralizer into the vents again. Plus, if you have a bad smell in your house, here’s how to get rid of it.

More drastic measures

Despite your best efforts, sometimes the smell of smoke has permeated so deeply that it is nearly impossible to eliminate. In that case, consider taking more drastic measures, like replacing the upholstery, headliner (roof material), and carpets.

If your car smells of smoke from a bonfire instead of cigarettes, you can usually get rid of that smell by putting your car in a well-ventilated area with the windows down to let it air out. After a little while, sprinkle some baking soda on the carpet and floor mats and vacuum it off.

If you have no interest in doing this job yourself, hire a pro! It costs anywhere from $125 to $200 for a thorough interior cleaning, depending on your location and the size of your vehicle.

Buy odor neutralizer here on Amazon.

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The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman

Alexa Erickson
Alexa is an experienced lifestyle and news writer currently working with Reader's Digest, Shape Magazine, and various other publications. She loves writing about her travels, health, wellness, home decor, food and drink, fashion, beauty, and scientific news. Follow her travel adventures on Instagram: @living_by_lex, send her a message: [email protected], and check out her website: