How to Get Smoke and Cigarette Smell Out of a Car

Getting rid of smoke smells in cars involves cleaning ashtrays, mats, and upholstery, or having the car professionally cleaned. Read this guide to learn how to eliminate smoke and cigarette smells.
Written by Nicholas Wilson
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
Getting rid of smoke and cigarette smells from your car can be done without professional help, but it will require deep cleaning and may need special cleaning products.
Tobacco odors are very distinctive and sometimes very difficult to tolerate, especially in a car where you will spend lots of time driving. The lingering smell of tobacco may also be a sign that some of the harmful chemicals are still present, which you should try to remove as soon as you can.
If you're thinking about purchasing a used car or are trying to freshen up your own, then you’ll want to know how to get rid of tobacco odors in the car and get it smelling back to normal. Read on to learn how with a little help from
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How to get rid of the smoke smell in your car

Step 1: Identify the sources of the odor. Very often, the smell of tobacco is lingering in a few common trouble spots, and once you take care of those spots, eliminating cigarette smells becomes easier.
The first place to check is the ashtray. If there are ashes or old cigarettes present, these may be contributing significantly to the tobacco smell.
Smell around the floor mats to see if there is a particular strong odor lingering there. Luckily enough, the floor mats can be removed from the vehicle and cleaned. This way, even if you cannot remove the smell from the mats, you can
them as needed.
Smell other fabrics in the vehicle to see if there are any trouble spots. The seats are good places to check as they will likely have been in contact with tobacco smoke.
Check all the seats, especially if you’ve purchased the car used, since the previous owner may have passengers who were the common smokers.
Use your common sense to find any other areas of concern inside the vehicle and take note of which areas need cleaning.
Step 2: Clean out the ashtray. As already stated, the ashtray is (hopefully) the cigarette receptacle in your car, so empty it out and give it a thorough cleaning.
You can rinse it out with some water, and if you feel it is necessary, you can apply some sort of freshening agent to the ashtray.
Step 3: Clean the fabrics in the vehicle. Tobacco odors especially cling to fabrics, so even if they don’t look dirty, your mats, seats, and other fabrics could use a good cleaning.
With a high-powered vacuum, get deep into the fabrics and clean anywhere inside the vehicle you can. If the smell is particularly offensive, you can do this multiple times and even in conjunction with carpet cleaners to neutralize the smell.
If carpet cleaners are not doing the trick, try spreading baking soda near trouble spots and vacuuming it up after letting it sit, or apply pet odor removers to see if that reduces the smell.
Obviously, you should do whatever is best for you car’s interior based on specific needs. If you want to get smoke smell out of leather car seats, for instance, you’ll have to use specialized leather cleaners that won’t cause damage to the seats.
Step 4: Replace the air filter. It is possible that the
tobacco odor has infiltrated your car’s air system
, so you may need to change the air filter in your vehicle.
If this has not been done for a while, now is as good as time to do it as any, and hopefully replacing it will help manage the smell.
Step 5: Get an air freshener. Once you have gone through the above steps, put an
air freshener
in the car.
As the name implies, one of these should help the car smell a little fresher. And, in conjunction with a thorough cleaning, using an air freshener can get your car smelling normal again.
MORE: How to clean car upholstery and carpeting

Getting your car cleaned professionally

If you are worried that you won’t be able to get rid of the smell or don’t have the time to do it, you can pay a professional detailer to do it for you.
This will cost you more than a DIY project, but you can rest assured that it will be done well and the smoke smell will be removed from your car.
Unpleasant odors
in your car make driving a lot less enjoyable. Keep yours clean and smelling good, and don't let people smoke in your car—especially after you've cleaned it!
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