How to Get Rid of Smoke Smell in Your Car

Smoke is a difficult smell to get out of your car. You may end up needing a professional detail but, before you spend the money, try our step-by-step instructions.

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Whether you’ve purchased a used car that someone smoked in, or have finally kicked the bad habit yourself, you may be itching to learn how to get rid of that smoke smell in your car.

Tools Required

  • Microfiber Cloth
  • Spray Bottle
  • Vacuum with crevice tool

Materials Required

  • Interior glass cleaner
  • Odor neutralizer
  • White vinegar

Project step-by-step (5)

Step 1

Air It Out

  • Drive your car to a well-ventilated area.
  • Roll down the windows, remove any belongings and take out every scrap of trash.
Step 2

Vacuum All Surfaces

  • Remove seat covers and floor mats and begin to vacuum every inch of your interior.
    • A handheld vacuum, or vacuum with an attachment meant for getting into the deepest nooks and crannies is ideal for this job.
  • Vacuum your seat covers and floor mats separately, after they’ve aired out in the sun for a bit.

vacuum carDelpixel/Shutterstock

Step 3

Wash All Surfaces

  • Combine white vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio in a spray bottle and spritz your upholstery.
    • Use a microfiber cloth and wipe down all of the interior upholstery, interior side panels, steering wheel, dashboard, etc.
      • Pro Tip: You should also use a glass cleaner to remove any cigarette residue on your windows and windshield.

Cleaning leather seatsVstock LLC/Getty Images

Step 4


  • Start your engine, turn the fan on high and the air conditioner to the lowest temperature.
    • With windows rolled down, allow the car’s air ventilation/filtration system to pull the smoke smell out of the car.
  • With the fan and A/C still on, spray an odor neutralizer into the vents.
    • Pro Tip: Repeat this process, but this time, turn the heat all the way up and spray the neutralizer into the vents again.

Vent wrap air freshenervia

Step 5

Enlist the Help of a Pro

Despite your best efforts, sometimes the smell of smoke has permeated so deeply that it is nearly impossible to eliminate. In that case, consider taking more drastic measures, like replacing the upholstery, headliner (roof material) and carpets.

If you have no interest in doing this job yourself, hire a pro! It costs anywhere from $125 to $200 for a thorough interior cleaning, depending on your location and the size of your vehicle.