Easiest Way To Remove the Smell of Smoke From Your Car

In this article you will learn:



  • Why smoke odors are so difficult to remove

  • The easiest way to get rid of that lingering smoke smell in your car

  • How to prevent smoke odors from taking hold in the future

You know that moment when you walk or drive by a bad smell, like skunk spray or burning motor oil, and that nasty smell hits you out of nowhere? Eventually, as you continue to move away from the source, the smell dissipates, but imagine if that intense odor never went away.

That’s what it’s like to drive a car filled with the smell of smoke.

Whether you bought a car from a previous owner who smoked, or you’ve lit up a couple of cigarettes yourself, the scent of tobacco and cigarette smoke can linger inside your car for years, and it can seem impossible to get rid of. Every time you open your car door, it hits you, and no matter what combination of air fresheners you’ve tried, including “bamboo charcoal” or “crisp morning air,” that that stubborn odor always returns.

But before you stress about boiling a few cinnamon sticks or any other weird, complicated lifehack the internet says is your only hope, let us hit you with the facts: 50% of those smoke odors can be removed just by giving your car a simple clean.

And if you think that’s easy, we have some other tips and tricks that will make getting rid of the rest of the odors inside your car a breeze. Hopefully a fresh, spring breeze, because that would sure smell better than that awful smoke smell.

In this guide, we’ll share the easiest way to remove the smoke smell in your car—and no—it doesn’t involve dryer sheets.

Start with cleaning

The reason the odor from cigarette and tobacco smoke is so difficult to get rid of is because smoke is a microparticle, which means it’s small enough to penetrate every crack and crevice inside your car. Soft surfaces, like your car seats, carpet and headliner, are highly absorbent, which allows the smoke smell to embed even deeper into the cushions and fibers.

Smoke also carries tar and other organic materials that yellow or discolor the fabric inside your car over time. So not only does smoke make the inside of your car smell bad, it also makes it look bad, too.

The easiest way to get rid of these pesky smoke stains and microparticles is to do what you always do when your car gets dirty and give the interior a good cleaning.

Take out all your belongings from inside your car and store them in a safe place. Remove your floor mats and any seat covers and wash them separately.

Start by vacuuming the carpet and upholstery inside your car with a portable vacuum. Be sure to use the upholstery attachment to reach deep into the tight spaces and gaps between the cushions, and move your seats back and forth so you can properly clean the carpet underneath them.

Then, treat your carpet and upholstery. We recommend using our Power Out! Upholstery Cleaner and POWER OUT! Carpet & Mats Heavy Duty Cleaner to clean these soft, absorbent surfaces. This professional strength carpet and upholstery shampoo is infused with advanced, Odor-X technology that penetrates just as deeply as any odor molecule to seek and destroy the source of the smell.

Just spray this foaming cleaner all over your carpet, floor mats and upholstery and use the bristle brush attachment to scrub and agitate any dirt, stains or soils. Then wipe away the excess product and soils with a white cotton cloth. The cloth will become soiled as you clean. Flip to a clean side and continue wiping until the cloth comes up clean.

Next, use an interior detailer to spray and wipe all the nonporous surfaces inside your car, including the trim, dashboard and center console. We recommend our Oxy Interior 1 spray, which contains the same odor elimination technology that neutralizes odors at the molecular level.

Target problem areas

After you allow the freshly cleaned surfaces inside your car to dry, check to see if you can still smell smoke. While it may not be as bad as before, there may still be traces of the smell inside your car.

If you still smell smoke, see if you can detect where the smell is coming from. These are the areas you’ll want to target with an odor neutralizer like our Odor X Fresh Blast Car Freshener Spray. We formulated this deodorizer specifically for smoke, mildew, food and drink spills and pet accidents to keep your car smelling fresh!

Spray any problem areas with the odor eliminator spray, including the headliner. Avoid touching or wiping this area, since this can cause the fabric of the headliner to separate from the glue. The last thing you want is to be wearing the headliner of your car like a hat!

When in doubt, fog it out

By now, you should notice the smoke smell in your car a whole lot less. But if you can still smell some lingering traces, it may be because the vents and filters inside your car’s air conditioning unit have absorbed the tobacco smell as well. In that case, you’ll want to deodorize your entire car with an air fogger treatment.

We recommend our Odor-X Whole Car Blast to neutralize any lingering odor molecules inside your car. This diffuser releases a powerful fog that reaches into every crack and crevice inside your car to eliminate every last source of unpleasant smells and odors. It even leaves behind the light fragrance of your choice to keep your car smelling just as good as it looks. And it continues to eliminate new odors inside your car for the next 30 days. It’s the ultimate air freshener!

Just crack the windows inside your car, turn the A/C unit up to max in the recirculate mode and set the diffuser in one of your cup holders. Then push down the button in the center, evacuate the car, close the doors and voila! In 10 minutes, your whole car will be odor free.

Now, depending on how strong the initial odor was, it may take up to a week for the smell of smoke to completely dissipate as Odor-X continues to work, but rest assured; that smoke smell is as good as gone.

Preventing smoke odors

Using our Odor-X products in your regular cleaning routine is a great preventative measure to stop any odors, including from tobacco and cigarette smoke, from taking hold inside your car. It takes only two cigarettes for stubborn smoke molecules to penetrate every surface inside your car. Plus, smoking in your car can actually hurt its resale value, making it nearly impossible to get a good price when you’re ready to move on to another car.

The American Lungs Association’s Lung Helpline is open 7 days a week, and they have tons of incredible resources on their site to help you quit the habit and live a healthier life. And with healthier lungs, you’ll have more opportunities to make the most of your fresh-smelling car!

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