How to get rid of a cigarette smell in a car

Updated July 20, 2017

Everyone loves the scent of a brand new car, but not many like one that smells of cigarette smoke. There are several ways to rid that car of the smell. The Environmental Protection Agency cautions that “available scientific evidence shows that at concentrations that do not exceed public health standards, ozone has little potential to remove indoor air contaminants” and does not endorse ozone generators, but there are many other ways to eliminate that cigarette smell. From simple household items to products manufactured specifically for odour masking or elimination, there should be one to rid the car of the cigarette odour.

Shampoo the car's interior, including carpets, upholstery and floor mats, with a good quality upholstery shampoo designed to eliminate odours.

Wash all the hard surfaces and ashtrays of the car with white vinegar. The vinegar odour will dissipate quickly.

Rub baking soda into the upholstery fabric and carpet after they are thoroughly dry. Leave in as long as possible, then vacuum out.

Fill cups with baking soda or damp activated charcoal and leave the cups in the cup holders of the car for a couple of weeks to absorb residual odours.

Stuff dryer softener sheets under car seats, or place open containers of ground coffee beans on the floor and seats. Car owners plagued by cigarette smoke odours have tried these methods with variable success. They tend to mask odours rather than eliminate them but might work in an automobile with limited smoke smell. This temporary fix might also be a quick solution if you are only using the car for the few days, such as a rental car.

Spritz the car interior with an odour eliminator spray found in the cleaning supply aisle of the supermarket. Whether such sprays eliminate the odour or just mask it is yet to be decided. Products manufactured specifically to eliminate odours such as cigarette smoke include AtmosKlear and Ozium. Both claim to eradicate rather than mask odours. They are safe to spray on all surfaces of the car. While the products are registered with the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency has stated: “This number helps EPA identify the specific facility that produces the product. The display of this number does not imply EPA endorsement or suggest in any way the EPA has found the product to be either safe or effective.”


Consider taking the car to a professional detailer with experience in eliminating odours. Many times, it is worth the cost, and it eliminates the need for the car owner to struggle with the job himself.

Things You'll Need

  • Car
  • Upholstery shampoo
  • Carpet shampooer
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Activated charcoal
  • Odour eliminator spray
  • Dryer sheets
  • Coffee beans
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Marge Burkell is a professional artist that has been writing since 1985. Specializing in home and garden, quilting and crafts, her work has appeared in "Quilting Today," "Art to Wear" and "Craft & Needlework" as well as her own line of sewing patterns. Burkell authors multiple blogs and has written for iVillage, among other Internet sites.