How to remove cigarette odors from a car

Updated February 21, 2017

If you smoke, you're not likely to notice the cigarette odors in your car, but if you're a non-smoker and inherited a car from "two-packs-a-day" Aunt Ginny, the smell might drive you crazy. Here's how to remove it.

Shampoo the car's interior, including carpets, upholstery and floor mats with an odor eliminating shampoo, available at hardware or home improvement stores.

Clean all washable interior surfaces with the same shampoo. Put a small amount directly on a damp sponge, work in and wipe down.

Clean all the windows inside with a glass cleaner. Repeat if necessary.

Sprinkle baking soda on dry carpet, working it in with your hands. Wait a week and then vacuum.

Clean leather upholstery with a commercial leather cleaner/deodorizer, available at your dealership or at home improvement stores.

Vacuum ashtrays to remove residual ash. Place a small amount of baking soda or kitty litter into the ashtrays to absorb odors.


To freshen the car, keep dryer sheets under the seats, or place a little activated charcoal in a no-spill container (such as a jar with small air holes in the top) and place in car. Whenever possible, keep windows open when smoking in a car. You may need to replace the car's headliner (or "ceiling") if you can't remove the smoke odor from it.


Cigarette smoke can be extremely difficult to remove. If you are unsuccessful, consider taking the car to a professional detailer. Air fresheners may disguise the smell of smoke but they won't remove it.

Things You'll Need

  • Glass Cleaner
  • Sponge
  • Baking Soda
  • leather cleaner/deodorizer
  • odor-eliminating shampoo
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