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Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

I bought a car that was owned by a smoker. I've done a pretty good job of getting the smell of smoke out of the fabric but the heating/cooling system smells heavily of stale smoke. Anyone have any ideas of how I can 'clean' the smell? I've tried burning incense with the interior air circulation going full blast but the incense wore off and the smell of smoke is still there. Help. I'm desperate. Thanks in advance.



Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

'Oder ban' from sam's should take care of the problem. Also charcoal granules in the ash tray or baking soda. (05/25/2005)


Removing Smoke Smell From a Car


Take a ziplock bag place paper towels or cotton balls that have been soaked in vinegar, place it under the seat and leave the ziplock bag open overnight. This should really help. I have a daughter who smokes and I couldn't ride in teh car with her because of the smoke, she did this and it really helped! Good luck:) (05/26/2005)

By croslay26

Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

Yes, try baking soda in ash tray, I had this problem
once. To me it was horrid, I obsessed till my mom
said get some vinegar in a large flat container and
place UNDER hood when engine is cooled and let it sit for as long as it can..I actually once kinda poured


on there AFTER I washed car engine at the car wash
it helps also if a cat pees and you park over it
it will take your new car smell away so try that .
Put baking soda in an old sock and toss under
a seat or two it keeps working for awhile.


By meoowmom

Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

There is a product "NilOdor". I've used it in my home and it seems to do a great job. You can buy it at hardware stores, drugstores, Walmarts, etc. All you need is a drop or two in the ashtray and it should do the job for you. (05/27/2005)

By Mairmie

Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

This should be done by everyone yearly: Turn on the air conditioner, spray Lysol disinfected spray into the grills that are located on the outside of your car, below the windshield. Run the air for a couple of minutes. Do this once a year. (05/27/2005)


By Joanne

Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

There are filters in the heating/cooling systems that you can & it's recommend you do sometimes, replace. I've heard that they're in strange places such as in the back of the glove box or below dash or other silly places. Obviously, not a mechanic here. If disinfecting the system doesn't work, because it's smoke & not a fungus or mold, try finding out how to change the filters on the heating & a.c. systems. Maybe someone can elaborate on this for us. (05/27/2005)

By kidsNclutter

Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

I bought a car that also had a smell in it. I tried everything and now just carry a small bag of opened charcoal under the front seat. Charcoal also removes any smell from a plastic container. Just put a piece in and put the lid on. I keep a piece in my plastic deviled egg carrier and it never stinks. *S* Shoes etc are also a great place for a paper towel wrapped piece of charcoal. (05/28/2005)


By Mary

Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

You got the smell out of the fabric, but you will need to thoroughly clean the other surfaces (dashboard, insides of doors, etc) with a mixture of vinegar and water, or even just diluted Lysol liquid (or Mr. Clean, whatever all-purpose cleaner you prefer). You may even want to invest the money to have the car professionally detailed. Also be sure to thoroughly wash the INSIDES of all windows, as the nicotine film can build up there. Then fill the ashtray with potpourri and leave it partially open. Place new fabric softener sheets under each seat. Whenever you are parked in a garage or outdoors where you feel secure, leave the windows open and let the fresh air blow through! (06/03/2005)

By Becki in Indiana

Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

I recently bought a car from a smoker. I took the car in for a detail and that only worked for a few months. Now the smell is back and the wife can not stand it. I read all of your comments and will definitely use all of them if I have to. Thanks (08/04/2005)


By sam

Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

Everyone has great suggestions, but my question is are any of them permanent fixes? Or do you continuously have to clean and deodorize your car from smoke?

Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

From the October 2005 edition of Professional Car Washing & Detailing magazine. Since cigarette/cigar/ smoke smell is an odor and not a stain, this is what I have found:

1)Foggers - They require a chemical to be discharged sending the fog into the air.The chemical fog kills bacteria, and foggers disperse chemicals into every microscopic pore of a vehicle's interior.Foggers also contain specialized products to eliminate every type of odor.

2)Ozone machine - These units have long been touted as the best option to permanently remove odors and purify the air in autos.These machines do not require chemicals and run on their own. Ozone is heavier than air. An ozone machine requires the oxygen (O2) levels to be turned changed to O3. Air quickly returns to O2 within a home and much quicker in a car.


3)Vapor steamer machines - Very high-end shops use these units, which can clean just about any surface.The attraction is that they can clean and deodorize all surfaces extremely well and cut chemical use by about 25 percent. Also, the surfaces are left virtually dry and chemical-free. Vapor systems use high-temperature (240-298 degrees) water vapor and pressure to clean and sanitize virtually any surface. Hard to clean areas such as cracks, crevices, deep cavities, and air ducts are easily cleaned with minimal effort. Previously inaccessible places can be easily cleaned and sanitized using this process. Surfaces are dry within minutes. A vapor steamer machine easily penetrates air vents, crevices in engine compartments, under seats, door jams and headliners. There is no better method for completely removing tobacco smoke film and eliminating bacteria driven odors.

I hope this will be of some help to those of us used car buyers who inherited a smoke smelling car. (12/29/2005)

By Lisa

Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

If you know someone handy, like my husband, you can take the fronts off the the air conditioner vents and clean inside w/ vinegar. If this doesn't work someone VERY handy can take off the dashboard and clean inside. (01/25/2006)

By Trista

Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

Whatever you do, *don't* spray it with anything chemical like Lysol -- that only adds to the greater, long-run problems. (Cigarette smoke itself is made up of chemicals, so why add more to the interior air?)
If you get the car detailed, try to find a place that uses as few chemical cleaners as possible.

If you have access to an allergy or health food store, ask for a non-chemical enzyme spray that will neutralize the chemicals' VOCs. These are usually advertised as pet-smell fighters but they work with varying degrees of success on other odors.

I've washed the interior of my car with baking soda water, kept the inside of the windows wiped down with vinegar water, and used lava-rock bags and an ozonator. These aren't one-time fixes -- you have to keep at it because the chems in cig smoke are so pervasive.

Oh, and keep the windows open (at least cracked) whenever you can. Nuthin' like fresh air, and the price is right.

Good luck! (02/04/2006)

By Moxy

Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

Never put Lysol in any thing that will circulate air. It is a harmful chemical. It needs time to dissipate. (02/28/2006)


Do not use Lysol or chemicals in vents

Some one said, "spray Lysol disinfected spray into the grills that are located on the outside of your car, below the windshield. Run the air for a couple of minutes. Do this once a year"

NO NO NO I did this at home and my son became asthmatic and I had to replace all the air ducts in my home. Too costly for health (02/28/2006)

By Elizabeth

Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

Put dryer sheets under the seats, works in 2 weeks. (03/21/2006)

By Guest

Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

"There are filters in the heating/cooling systems that you can & it's recommend you do sometimes, replace. I've heard that they're in strange places such as in the back of the glove box or below dash or other silly places. Obviously, not a mechanic here. If disinfecting the system doesn't work, because it's smoke & not a fungus or mold, try finding out how to change the filters on the heating & a.c. systems. Maybe someone can elaborate on this for us."

They're called cabin filters, (yes)they usually are located behind the glove box. I would recommend bringing your car to a local mechanic shop before selling it if you do smoke and have this filter changed, the difference is great. I'm just glad I'm a mechanic, because i will only pay part cost on that job :) good luck (03/28/2006)

By James

Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

I agree with Becky.

The reason the smell is so persistent is that the smoke tar deposits itself to all the ventilation ducts and in all interior fabric. I'd start with having the car detailed, including having all upholstery steam cleaned. Not sure how you're going to dislodge the tar in the vents though.

I cleaned out a great-uncle's apartment after both he and his wife died of emphysema, smoking in a closed apartment for 50 years. Everything was coated with a thick layer of yellow tar. When wet, it would absorb straight through the skin. It's hard to clean up.

As to cleaning up the car, just think of it as cleaning a thin layer of sticky tar off every surface, and you'll get the idea.

Good luck,


By Amy

Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

Try sprinkling carpets with Baking soda.
Afterwords sprinkle carpet fresh (Vanilla)
Try to leave windows cracked at all times.

I think it will be very hard to get out permanently.

~~~Good Luck~~~ (08/18/2006)

By Autumn

Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

Never use dryer sheets - in fact, don't use them in the laundry. They/fabric softeners contain very harmful chemicals that cause and/or worsen existing respiratory problems. There are actual scientific studies that have found stuff such as formaldehyde in them. Skeptical? Keep a log of any respiratory problems you or others in the household have now, and in a few weeks, stop using all dryer inserts and fabric softeners. Continue logging your respiratory health, and see if there were any changes. From personal experience, rashes can also occur.

Anyways, I've heard that kitty litter soaks up odors. (02/06/2007)

By Kelsey

Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

Try pouring a little Febreze in the windshield washer solution already in the wiper reservoir. With the car in motion, turn on the heater or a/c and run the wipers' spray cycle a few times. Make sure the vents are set to fresh air intake, not recirculate. I've seen pouches of liquid meant for this purpose sold at Auto Zone, but I like the Febreze better. It tends to kill the smell as well as cover any lingering odors. (02/09/2007)

By Shannon K

Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

The ozone machine is the only way. Take your car to a detail shop once a year, give them $40 and leave the car there over night. Just like new. Beats the alternatives I hear above. I guess me being a car salesman helps, I get this service free. (04/24/2007)

By Dave

Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

Change your AC filter! (06/29/2007)

By Alex

Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

There is a product called VAMOOSE, do a search and you'll find it on ebay or other places on the net.(b)VAMOOSE(/b) (10/01/2007)


Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

Over the years, I have found a VERY simple way to get rid of tobacco odor from a car: simply park the car in the direct summer sun with the windows slightly cracked. The intense heat that builds up inside will easily volatilize the ar that has built up, and with the windows cracked, the tar-laden air inside the car will just circulate out. In order to get the tar out of the ducts, you also want to turn the fan on while the ducts are still hot from being in the sun. Although this mehod will not work in one day, you should have a pretty smoke-free car within a week or two if this is done EVERY day in a climate with strong sunlight.

Of course, this might not work too well in winter or where strong sunlight in summer is rare. But it might be possible to accomplish the same thing with an electric heater inside the car. Of course, you NEVER want to leave the car unattended while doing this, as it could cause a fire should something go wrong. Stick with the sun if you possibly can. (10/27/2007)

By Matt

Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

I read on another site about putting unused coffee grinds in a sock, knotting it and putting it under the seat. The poster said to leave it there a couple of days - we tried it and the odor goes away completely almost immediately. We only left it in over night and took it out - the next day it smelled again, so, we put the socks (we did two) back in and again - the smell is gone. So, we will keep it in for a couple of days and see what happens....try it - it is inexpensive and really did work - who cares if you need to keep the socks under the seats - as long as you don't have that smoker's smell! Good luck! (11/25/2007)

By coffeeworks

Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

We just got a 1992 BMW imported straight from Japan. It only has 64,000km and is in immaculate condition, but it absolutely reeks of cigarette smoke so badly I was nauseous after driving it 10 minutes to get it home from where it was unloaded off the truck. After reading this post, apart from the regular shampooing of the upholstery, roof liner, etc., I'm going to try to following methods from items I luckily have in the house already:

1: The negative air ionizers produce ozone, we already started using it, but I think I forgot to run the heater and AC on 'recirculate'.

2: Instead of Vinegar will put some Peppermint oil in a bowl with water (The chemical components of peppermint oil are menthol, menthone, 1,8-cineole, methyl acetate, methofuran, isomenthone, limonene, b-pinene, a-pinene, germacrene-d, trans-sabinene hydrate and pulegone.). In the bowl I will place one of the small ultrasonic mister units that came in the decorative indoor water fountain we bought at the Gardening Center. I'll place it on the dash and run the car's heater system on recirculate.

3: I'll take some charcoal and ammonia chips for our fish tank filters and put them in the foot of old pantyhose, knot it, and place it in the ashtray, as I understand they can stink for a long time.

I'm looking for a method that will contribute to neutralizing the toxic deposits rather than masking them. To this end the maze of ducts in the heating and AC system are the most problematic to address. It would be interesting to know which products can actually neutralize all the deposits left from smoke on non porous surfaces. For example, I was just watching an ad on TV advertising a log that breaks down the deposits in your chimney if you have a wood burning fireplace to help prevent chimney fires. I was wondering if something like that could be used in other ways such as what we're discussing here. (Review is here:

If anyone wants me to post how this all worked out when I'm done, let me know. Maybe I should even write it up for our website complete with pictures if it all works out. (01/19/2008)

By TSellers

Removing Smoke Smell From a Car

The best choice for cleaning a car owned by a smoker, or some other odor, is by using an ozone blaster. These are most often found at auto detailing shops, but you can also purchase units for the home that are just as effective for your car. Solving two problems simultaneously!

You can find these products at

I own a "Fresh Air" machine and it works wonders! (03/27/2008)

By Nick

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