How To Get Smoke Smell Out Of Your Car (3 Effective Ways!)

Getting rid of smoke smell in our car, we hate that smell

Did you know that the smell of smoke lingers in the car for a very long time, especially if it has been exposed to smoke for years on an end?

And that’s why you sometimes smell cigarette smoke in cars bought second hand. Having experienced it, let me tell you, it’s not a pleasant smell, particularly in a closed vehicle.

I decided to do some research on the same and share it with you. Here’s everything I found about how to get smoke smell out of car.

While it may seem daunting, you can easily remove cigarette smell from car below:

  1. Thorough cleaning and detailin
  2. Home remedies like white vinegar, charcoal, coffee grounds, cat litter, cinnamon, baking
  3. soda, dryer sheets, etc.
  4. Odor bomb
  5. Ozone Treatment

Method1: Thorough Clean To Get The Smoke Smell Out Of Your Car

Nothing can beat a thorough cleaning when it comes to removing the stench of cigarettes from any vehicle.

Start in a ventilated place, preferably outdoors, like your driveway on a breezy day. This allows the car to air out and for some of the smoke smell to dissipate.

  1. Start with taking out the trash, including an ashtray, cigarette butts, trash, cigars, and any signs of cigarette ash or similar debris. Do not miss your dashboard and trunk of your car.
  2. Run your vacuum over the carpets and the seats. Pay special attention to fabric since smoke clings to it much more than other materials. Do not miss the crevices in between the seats since old cigarette ash might have fallen inside.
  3. Remove the seat covers and mats; Vacuum under them and get rid of the dust and ash settled there.
  4. Air out the seat covers and the mats separately for a while.
  5. If you have a steam cleaner at hand, use that to clean the upholstery, including the carpet, door, seats, etc.
  6. For leather, consult the user’s manual for details related to cleaning. You do not want to use unorthodox methods and spoil the material.
  7. Wipe away the steering wheel, dashboard, windows, windshield, etc.
  8. Let the car dry before closing the doors. If it isn’t completely dry, dampness that prevails could bring more problems than before.

Your car should be cleared of smoke smell by now, but if any lingers, you can try a few home remedies to clear it off.

But, in case you feel that the stench is still suffocating, you might want to approach an auto care center for professional detailing.

A midsize car can cost you any from $50 to $125, and for an SUV, it ranges between $75-$150. And it all depends on your car and class.

Ventilate The Duct System

While your car is scrubbed and cleaned, the next step is to ventilate the car’s duct system.

The air filter traps the cigarette smoke, which then circulates inside the car next time you switch on the cooling or the heating system. Hence experts suggest airing out the ducts after a full clean.

Air Intake System

Open the doors and windows; Turn on the engine, and set the air conditioner to full blast at the lowest setting. Ensure that your windows are down, and the air doesn’t recirculate.

  1. Locate the air intake vent; You can find them closer to the wiper blades.
  2. Spray an odor neutralizer directly into the duct.
  3. Wait for a bit and do the same again until the smoke smell lessens.
  4. Let the car settle with the windows and doors open.

Heating System

Just like the cooling system, you might want to do the same for the heating system too.

Turn the heat on to its maximum setting. Spray the odor neutralizer into the vent. It ensures that the smell blows out of the vents.

Bonus Tip: I’d suggest you replace the air filters if you intend to sell the car. You can get more for your automobile this way when your car doesn’t reek of cigarette smell.

Method2: Home Remedies To Remove Cigarette Smell From A Car

Despite all these efforts, the smell of cigarettes may still remain in the car. Sometimes it permeates the car so deeply, that the above is not enough.

There are still ways to get rid of cigarette smell in your car with simple home remedies.

White Vinegar

You must have tried it before or at least heard it. The reason being, it is a tried and tested method to remove the smoke smell.

Pour a cup and place it in the cup holder that every car comes equipped with. It helps to remove or noticeably lessen the obnoxious odors.

Leave it overnight for better results, and by morning the smell would have lessened to a certain extent.

Baking Soda

Another oldest trick in the book is baking soda. The multipurpose ingredient can help you get rid of the cigarette smell in the car.

But beforehand, make sure that your vehicle is completely dry since you are going to vacuum everything soon.

Sprinkle baking soda on the seat, upholstery, and floor liberally. Give it a while to work the magic while you fetch the vacuum. Clean everything up, leaving your car fresh and odor-free.

Coffee Grounds

Coffee can dominate over any smell and mask it effectively.

The best part is the pleasing smell of coffee in your car instead of the stink of cigarettes, especially if you love your cup of joe in the morning.

The procedure is the same as that of white vinegar wherein you place a bowl of coffee grounds in a locked car.

A few hours or even overnight for a better permeation. By morning the aroma of coffee overpowers the cigarette smell. Remember, they work by masking and not removing.


Why mask the smell when you can eliminate it? Charcoal does that for you since it is famous for absorbing any unnecessary odors.

Happen to have a bag of charcoal lying around waiting for the next barbeque party. Place the entire bag in the backseat of your car for two whole days depending on the lingering stench.

But, that doesn’t mean that you cannot use the charcoal. Use that next time you fire up your grill.

Citrus Fruits

Love everything citrus including the sweet citrusy fragrance. I am not talking about perfume or an air freshener, but the peels straight from the source.

Next time you eat anything citrus, save the peels and place them in your car. These peels can absorb some of the lingering smell and replace it with the citrus scent.

Dryer Sheets

Fabrics absorb smoke, and the car reeks of it long after even if the one who smoked is not in it You are going to have a persistent smoke smell, especially if you have cloth seats.

Here is where dryer sheets could help you.

The moment a smoker leaves the car, wipe the seats and the upholstery with dryer sheets. You will find that the car smells much better than before.

Unfortunately, this works for fresh smells, not ones that have permeated every nook and cranny of the vehicle. And you might want to have a pack lying around in the car.


Next time you are stocking up cinnamon for your drink, save some for your car as well. Cinnamon has the ability to eliminate smoke odors. But, it is not going to be as easy as the rest above.

Boil a pot of water with cinnamon. Let it seep and pour the concoction in a travel mug.

Place it in the cup holder and let it return to room temperature on its own. In the meantime, lock the car with the windows rolled up.

Cat Litter

If you do happen to own cats, you might have extra bags of cat litter lying around. Cat litters are one of the best absorbents of offensive odors especially smoke smell.

Take some of the spare cat litter in a bowl and place it in the car. Lock your car along with the windows and let it do its trick.

After a few hours, you are sure to notice that the smell of cigarettes has reduced noticeably.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide famously removes odors from fabrics and is often used in homes. There’s no reason to believe it won’t work on your car’s upholstery.

Mix 3% peroxide with distilled white vinegar and spray it on the fittings. Allow it to dry and lock for it to work effectively.

Method3: Products That Remove Smoke Smell

None of the above work and you are at your wit’s end; Do not panic, I still have a few tricks up my sleeve.

Here are two products that remove cigarette smell from the car.

Odor Bomb

Odor bombs are a one-time odor eradicating foggers that can remove any smell from cars permanently. Unlike air fresheners, it eliminates the smell and does not mask it.

Place the can on the floor of the vehicle, press the button, and lock the car. Leave it for a few hours; When you return, you have an odor-free car smelling fresh.

Ozone Treatment

Last but not least is the final resort, an ozone treatment. While you can perform this at home, I suggest you not to do so since it is hazardous if performed wrongly.

But if you are still fixed on doing it at home, rent an ozone generator for the same.

  1. Thoroughly clean the car, as mentioned as the first step.
  2. Set the ozone generator in your car and start it.
  3. Wait until the car is filled to its brim with ozone.
  4. Activate the fan so that the ozone circulates through the vents.
  5. Drive the car around with the windows open to air it out.


Q1. I Am Trying To Sell My Car. Does Lingering Smoke Smell Affect The Value?

There is no fixed price reduction when it comes to lingering smoke smell since it depends on so many parameters like the intensity, damage, etc.

But it stands to reason that there will be a loss in value when you try to sell your car.

Q2. How Long Does Cigarette Smoke Last In My Car?

Unless you do something to get rid of the smell, and air out the car, the cigarette smell can remain in the car for up to 2 – 3 hours even with the windows open.

Cigarette smell has the ability to permeate the fabric, leather, etc. making for the lingering stench.

Q3. Can I Smoke In My Car And Not Have It Smell?

It is not possible for you to smoke it in the car and not have it smell. As I mentioned in the answer above, due to its ability to penetrate any upholstery, your car will reel off cigarette smell. But fear not, you can remove it just as easily.


A smoker’s car is very easily identifiable due to the persistent smell that remains in the car.

This can devalue the car when you try to sell it. Above that, not everyone can tolerate the smell.

You can remove the smell by:

  • Thoroughly cleaning
  • Home remedies
  • Odor bomb
  • Ozone generator

While a full clean should help you remove the smell, there are chances that more shall remain depending on the years of damage.

In that case, home remedies can help you air it out without costing a hole in the pocket.

  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Charcoal
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Cinnamon
  • Cat litter
  • Coffee grounds
  • Dryer sheets

While most of the above work for persistent odors, few others, like dryer sheets, work only with fresh smells that are a few hours old.

But if all the above has failed, you can always try air fresheners that mask the odors for hours or odor bombs that eliminate the smell in one shot or as the last resort try the ozone generator, which I suggest getting professional help.

If you are sure to try the generators yourself, then follow the steps we have listed above.

But, be aware of its hazardous nature. The best way of it all is not to smoke in your car. Rather than spending precious dollars on eliminating the smell, you can stop smoking at least in the car.


Written by Kane Dan

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