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How to remove smoke smell from a car

Read on to discover our guide for how to get rid of smoke smell in car interors with ease.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

By Cleanipedia Team

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Key steps

  • Use baking soda to eliminate lingering upholstery odours.

  • Clean steering wheels and other exposed interiors with white vinegar and water.

  • Make a homemade odour neutraliser using water, baking soda and lemon juice.

  • Spray this near the intake vents with the air conditioning on full.

  • Repeat with the heating on full.

Lingering, old smoke smells in small spaces like cars can build up and become very unpleasant after a while. Fortunately, you can have your car smelling fresh again in no time with our advice on how to get rid of smoke smell in a car!

Whichever method you choose to remove smoke smell from a car, make sure you test all products on an inconspicuous area and follow any manufacturer’s guidelines for commercial products.

How to remove smoke smell from car: top tips, tricks, and advice

If you want to remove smoke smell from your car, there are some important tips and tricks you should be aware of. Have a look below to find out what you’ll need and which method to follow.

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What you need:

  • A vacuum

  • Steam cleaner

  • Odour neutraliser (baking soda, lemon juice, and water work well)

  • Baking soda

  • Homemade cleaner (you will need white vinegar and water)

  • Old rags

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How to get smoke smell out of cars:

  1. Make sure you’re working in a well-ventilated area, such as a driveway instead of a garage. Don’t forget to roll down your windows.

  2. Remove any rubbish, including emptying ash trays and any smoking related rubbish, such as cigarette butts.

  3. Take out any removable parts such as seat covers and floor mats to clean them separately. To do this:

    • Vacuum floor mats.

    • Leave the mats to air in the sun.

    • Wash seat covers following the care label guidelines.

  4. Next, clean the interior. The areas you need to focus on first include:

    • Sprinkle baking soda on the upholstery to remove the smell. Leave this to sit for around 15 minutes.

    • Vacuum up the baking soda.

    • Use a steam cleaner to clean the upholstery.

    • Use a rag, and a homemade cleaner of equal parts white vinegar and water to wipe down the steering wheel, dashboard and other exposed interiors.

    • Don’t forget to clean the windows. For more detailed advice, read our article on how to clean car windows.

  5. The last thing you want is the smell coming back, so don’t forget to air out the heating and air conditioning system. The best way to do this is to use the following steps:

    • Start the engine. Make sure your car is in neutral and the handbrake is on.

    • Turn the fan and air conditioning system on.

    • Set it to the lowest temperature, full fan with air recirculation turned off.

    • Mix up your odour neutraliser using water, baking soda and lemon juice in a spray bottle.

    • Spray your mixture near the air intake vents so it’s sucked in. Continue this process until the smell of smoke is no longer coming from your air conditioning.

    • You will want to repeat the above step with the heating turned up to maximum heat.

With our simple guide you now have all the information you need to get rid of smoke smell in car interiors with ease. Get ready to enjoy a good road trip in a fine-smelling space!

Originally published