Smoke smells can be tricky to remove once they permeate your car. Yet the results are worth it to have your vehicle smelling sweet again. It’s important to vacuum and clean all areas of your car’s interior.
Equally, using a natural odor-absorber such as baking soda will help eradicate the smoke smell. Air purifiers are another great way to remove smoke odors and you can purchase high-quality units specifically designed for your car.
While the health risks associated with smoking are clear, there is another major drawback: the smell. Luckily, we’ve got many helpful tips on removing the odor, such as sprinkling baking soda, vacuuming thoroughly and cleaning all parts of your car, from the trim to the glove box.
Below you’ll also find advice about how to smoke in your car without smelling, plus our top three recommendations for the best car air purifiers.
How To Get Rid of Cigarette Smell in a Car
If you’ve recently smoked out your car, don’t worry; just follow these 14 simple steps to remove to stink.
Step 1: Remove the culprit
First, eliminate all cigarette residue or ash from your car. Any trash inside your vehicle can house a smoke smell, so getting rid of it is crucial. Sweep all debris into a bin — don’t forget to check under the seats for rubbish as well.
Once you’ve had a good clearout, place your ashtray outside your car and use a multi-surface disinfectant to spray it down. You can just spray the ashtray liberally and leave it briefly, allowing it to air dry.
Step 2: Sprinkle baking soda and use a vacuum
Baking soda is an excellent odor-neutralizer because the chemicals can help to defuse the acids that cause bad odors. As well as absorbing smells, it can also draw out excess moisture from the air.
- Vacuum the carpet and upholstery thoroughly. Ash could be lingering anywhere, so don’t forget the floors under the seats and mats. You could keep the mats outside your car for a while to later determine if they still smell like smoke.
- Next, sprinkle your tub of baking soda all over the upholstery and the carpet, letting it sit for a while.
- After you’ve left the soda for some time, vacuum and clean it up. You might still detect some pesky odors. If so, just sprinkle small amounts of baking soda to help further eradicate the smell. Another option is leaving an open box of baking soda in your car overnight.
Step 3: Pay attention to the nooks and crannies
Continuing with vacuuming, you can use your device’s hand attachment for those hard-to-reach places, like in between the seat backs and bottoms.
|Pro tip: Use one hand to press firmly down with the vacuum, and use your spare hand to separate the seams in the car seats. This means you’ll be more likely to suck up and catch those bits you can’t see.|
Step 4: Get the air circulating
It’s super important to circulate air as this will help to eliminate smoke odors. Before you do this, however and to help eliminate the smell, try spraying some Febreze Fabric Auto on all the soft places in your vehicle. Think squishy seats and seat-backs.
Then, simply open all the doors to your car and switch the vents to “recirculate”. Be sure to allow the air to move through the system for an hour or so.
Step 5: Clean the glove box
Remember that everything in your car can hold the smell of smoke, so be sure to remove unnecessary items.
Remove the contents of the glove box and discard anything you don’t need. For those items you do need to keep, you can simply let these air out. Then, using a cloth and cleaning spray, wipe down the interior surfaces of the glove box thoroughly.
Step 6: Replace the cabin air filter
Car air filters can get super clogged with dirt and grime, leading to bad smells. Before you put things back in your glove box, slide it off its hinges to remove it completely. You should be able to do this without using any tools. Then simply pull out the smoke-saturated air filter, toss it in the garbage and insert the new one.
Step 7: Wipe the dashboard and control panel
For this stage, it’s best to use a hard surface cleaner and a microfiber cloth to remove odors from the dashboard and control panel.
|Pro tip: A simple trick for getting in the cracks and crevices where the dash meets the windshield is to wrap or tape a small cloth around the end of a ruler.|
Step 8: Scrub the cup holder area and gear shift
Firstly, use your vacuum to hoover around the cup holders, then spray with a hard surface cleaner before wiping out with a cloth. If your gear shift isn’t wrapped in leather, you can repeat the same process here.
If it is, use an appropriate leather cleaner and conditioner, or make your natural alternative.
|Pro tip: Fill a spray bottle with ¾ vinegar and top up with warm water. Coconut oil is effective as a conditioner: apply a small amount to a dry cloth and rub in gently.|
Step 9: Clean the steering wheel and column
As mentioned above, it’s important to use the right products depending on whether the steering wheel is wrapped in leather. Simply use a manufactured/your own natural leather cleaner and conditioner again or choose an automotive cleaner (but make sure it doesn’t leave the wheel slippery).
The steering column can also hold cigarette and weed smoke smells. To sanitize this area, tilt the column up and down to clean all the surfaces.
Step 10: Remember the seat belts
As seat belts are close to the source of smoke, the odor can be fairly potent here. Carefully extend the belt and wipe the belts’ front and back with a damp cloth. Be sure to repeat until you feel the smells are gone.
Step 11: Clean and eliminate odors from the trim
It takes patience to remove smoke smells from the trim as many cars can have a fair amount throughout the vehicle. But don’t let that put you off because having your car smelling fresh again will be worth it!
Use a clean, damp microfiber cloth to wipe down the trim carefully. Use leather cleaner and conditioner or a natural, DIY alternative, as mentioned earlier, for leather trim.
|Pro tip: If you rotate and replace the cloth frequently, this will help to eradicate the smoke odor.|
Step 12: Clean up the headliner and visor
Just like with heat, smoke rises. This is especially apparent if the windows are closed while you or your passengers smoke.
While it may not be the cheapest option, your best bet is to use a car steam cleaner to clean the headliner effectively. As the interior section can be awkward, use an adapter that curves. This will allow the spray head to contact the smoke-ridden surface sufficiently.
Fortunately, cleaning the visor is a bit easier and more economical! Simply vacuum and wipe the visors with a damp cloth.
Step 13: Sanitize the hard surfaces
It’s crucial to clean your car windows and mirrors as these areas can also hold smoke. Here’s another of our DIY cleaning solutions:
- Take an empty spray bottle and mix ¼ cup vinegar with ½ teaspoon of liquid dish soap.
- Next, dilute the solution by pouring in 2 cups of water.
- Shake the bottle vigorously and spritz your windows and mirrors. When you’ve finished, be sure to wipe down and dry everything with a microfiber cloth
Step 14: Put the whole lot back and hang an air freshener
When you’ve checked that your ashtray and car mats, etc., no longer smell like smoke, now’s the time to put everything back in your car. You could also hang an air freshener on your rearview mirror.
|Pro tip: As we discussed in step 2, you can leave an open box of baking soda in your car overnight to help absorb the smell. Or, if you’re partial to a cup of java, leaving coffee grounds in a container will do a similar job and effectively soak up odors.|
How To Smoke in Your Car Without It Smelling
While it’s great to feel that you’ve given your car a deep clean and removed the smoke smell, finding ways to minimize odors while you smoke is important.
1. Check that your AC/heater is pulling in air from the outside. If the air recirculates around your car, it will pull smoke into the vents and filters, making the smoke more likely to linger.
|Pro tip: To help prevent smoke from seeping into the AC, heater, or cabin filter, switch off the recirculated air button.|
2. Keep your window cracked open a little. Holding your cigarette near the window will help eliminate most of the smoke and odors.
3. Switch to an e-cigarette. This is a simple way to continue smoking while preventing the traditional tobacco smell.
4. Leave a small box of baking soda or a bowl of coffee grounds securely under your seat. This can help to absorb the smoke smell.
|Pro tip: There are other, sweeter-smelling options as well — a jar full of citrus fruits and cinnamon can also act as a natural air freshener and counteract the smoke odor.|
5. Clean your car’s trim and upholstery at least once a week. Airing your car on clear, breezy days will also help reduce odors.
The Top 3 Car Air Purifiers
Air purifiers are one of the most effective ways to eliminate cigarette smoke and other types of smoke. Yet you can also purchase units that are specifically designed for cars.
We tested many units, and we are continually updating our list with new models and performance data for different situations so be sure to check out our current lists:
9 best air purifiers for cigarette smoke
If you’re unsure which one to go for, though, don’t worry because we’ve personally tested lots of purifiers and here are our top three recommendations.
If you use your car regularly, invasive smoke smells can damage your journey. Fortunately, there are lots of ways you can eliminate odors. Cleaning and vacuuming all areas of your car – including nooks and crannies — is the best way to go. Remember that natural substances like baking soda, vinegar and coffee grounds are fantastic at absorbing and neutralizing odors. And be sure to consider using an air purifier for your car as these are one of the most effective tools for removing smoke smells.
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Last update on 2023-03-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API