Getting Rid Of Smoking Smells in Your Car

smoke from car air ventsYou want to buy a second hand car. You love the look and the feel behind the wheel. And it’s a great price. There’s one little problem however. The car itself stinks of second hand smoke. What can you do to freshen up the vehicle and get it smelling like a floating flower rather than an ashtray on wheels?

Even if you haven’t really bought a second hand car and you’re one of the few people out there who still sparks up, use the advice in our article to help you remove the stench of old dog ends from your wheels.

Gather Materials

Get the right stuff to get rid of the wrong smells. Before you commence on your battle with the Benson and Hedges you’ll want to collect some of the following items:

  • Baking soda with water and a bowl
  • Fabric fresher like the famous Febreeze
  • Hanging air fresheners
  • Spray bottles
  • Carbon air purifiers
  • Window cleaners
  • Vacuum
  • Absorbents such as white vinegar or charcoal
  • Small brush

Preparing Your Car

Clean out the ashtray and if necessary use a scrubber with some hardcore detergent to really get rid of the caked on ash. Be sure to investigate down all the nooks and crannies to remove any old dog ends hiding in the floor mats.

Soft Surfaces

  • Hoover – use the vacuum everywhere once all the large debris has been cleared out of the car. Get involved with every small spot from under the seats to the headrests of the car. Even if these upholstered surfaces do not look dirty they could be hiding ash and harbouring the smell of smoke. Give the mats the once over and leave out to air when you have finished.
  • For a deeper cleaning – follow our easy process to remove the smoky stink from those soft surfaces that act like a magnet for cigarette odours.
  • Use a fabric cleaner that gets rid of smells. We like using baking soda as it tends to be ultra-absorbent but you could equally use Febreeze or another popular commercial product.
  • Sprinkle baking soda on the softer surfaces after making sure that these have been fully dried properly.
  • Work in the baking soda into the fabric with a brush or alternative put some washing up gloves on and use your hands. Make sure it gets thoroughly into the seats and gaps between seats.
  • Leave the soda to do its magic, for at least 30 minutes, but for the best results you should allow a whole day to remove the bad smells.
  • Vacuum up all the baking soda. When you have finished be sure to empty out the bag, then give it another couple of passes to ensure that every last granule of soda has been sucked away.

Harder Surfaces

  • Get the right cleaner – and make sure that it is suitable for the surfaces. If you have any doubts test a small amount of the cleaner in a non-visible area. All-purpose cleaners should give you a helping hand at shifting smoking marks with a little elbow grease.
  • Glass cleaner – use specialist glass cleaner for all transparent and reflective surfaces. This should allow you to wipe away old nicotine stains on the glass.
  • The natural solution ­– don’t like chemicals? You can get away with using vinegar and water fired from a spray bottle over the surfaces. When you are finished use another cloth to wipe away the excess.


  • Check the air filter – if this has become dirty then replace it immediately. However it may be a good idea to simply replace the filter regardless as you may find it has caught a considerable amount of smoke over time.
  • Park the car – in a well ventilated space and then get the air freshener spray and give it a good going over to ensure any lasting odours can dissipate.
  • Recirculate the air make sure you have the battery fully charged after some time out on the road. Then park up, open the doors and turn the air con on and let the car breathe easily once again. When this has been done spray air freshener into the ducts.

Finishing Off

  • Get rid of the last smells – place bowls of activated carbon, coffee in an aluminium pan or a bowl of white wine vinegar and leave overnight to absorb the smoky smell. Alternatively balls of screwed up newspaper will do the same.
  • Restore removed items – put your ashtray and mats back and enjoy the new car smell. You have worked hard to achieve it so now relax and take a few deep lung full draws of clean air.

And Finally

Of course you could always pay for a professional valet service, but where’s the fun in that? And think of all the lovely money you can save by not having to fork out the cash for a service that needs you to dip your fingers in your pockets.

This entry was posted in Maintenance and tagged , on by Justin Smith.

About Justin Smith

As the man at the helm of BreakerLink, it is no surprise that its Director, Justin Smith, has always had a keen interest in cars, bikes and most things wheeled. Having spent over two decades in the car parts industry, Justin combines his passion that since 2002, has successfully united those looking for new and used car parts with the breaker that supplies them.

Disclaimer: These articles are for guidance purposes only. If you have any questions regarding any matter relating to your vehicle we would recommend that you seek the advice of an appropriate professional. We accept no responsibility or liability should you suffer financial or personal damages in relation to the advice stated on this website.

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