How to Get Smoke Smell and Tobacco Odors Out of Your Car

Getting rid of smoke smells in cars involves finding the odors, cleaning ashtrays, mats, and upholstery, or having the car professionally cleaned.
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 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. In this article, Part 1 tells you how to get rid of odors yourself, and Part 2 suggests having the car cleaned by a professional.

Part 1 of 2: How to get rid of tobacco odors yourself

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 of these, you can make a big difference.
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 replace 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 note them for your 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 have leather seats, for instance, then you’ll want to use a cleaning method and specialized cleaners suited to the leather that won’t cause damage.
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, can get your car smelling normal again.

Part 2 of 2: Having your car cleaned professionally

Step 1: Get a professional cleaning on your car. 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, 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.
Unpleasant odors in your car make driving a lot less enjoyable. Keep yours clean and don’t let people smoke in your car - especially after you’ve cleaned it!
Share this article

Hate shopping for car insurance?

Jerry does that for you automatically using AI technology.
1. Tell us your name, phone and current insurance company.
2. We shop with up to 45 insurance companies to find you savings.
3. We do all the paperwork for you to switch, at no cost to you.
    (M-F 8am-5pm PT)
JERRY INSURANCE AGENCY is a licensed insurance broker licensed to do business in all 50 states (except HI).
Copyrights © Jerry 2020. All rights reserved.
Jerry App
Never overpay for car insurance
Jerry automatically shops for your insurance before every renewal. Members save $872/year.