How to remove nicotine stains from a car interior

Written by mallory hall
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How to remove nicotine stains from a car interior
Cigarettes can leave unsightly nicotine stains on your car's upholstery. (cigarette image by rafalwit from

While it is a known fact that cigarettes and cigarette smoke are bad for your health, they are also bad for the interior of your car. The nicotine that results from the smoke leaves a greasy yellowish-brown stain on your upholstery and has a distinctive odour that can be hard to remove. However, you can use supplies from your local hardware store and your home to restore your car's upholstery and interior.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Spray bottle
  • White vinegar
  • Cleaning rags
  • Carpet shampoo
  • Carpet cleaning machine
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Baking soda
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Clean towels (optional)

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  1. 1

    Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar. Spray your car's interior including the glass, plastic and vinyl surfaces. Avoid spraying the fabric. Use a cleaning rag to wipe down the surfaces. Continue the process until your rag is no longer picking up stains and wipes clean.

  2. 2

    Use a carpet shampoo and carpet-cleaning machine. Make sure that the product has a built-in stain remover. Read and follow the instruction manual for proper usage. Cover the carpet and fabric interior including the upholstery. Air-dry the car with the windows and doors open to allow proper ventilation.

  3. 3

    Sprinkle baking soda on the fabric. Once the car is dry, coat the upholstery with baking soda and use a soft-bristle brush to work the product into the fibres. For best results, allow the baking soda to settle for at least one week. If you need to use your vehicle and you are worried about baking soda on your clothing, lay a towel on the seats.

  4. 4

    Vacuum up any remaining baking soda from the interior. Any leftover baking soda should have soaked up the nicotine while it was settling into the fibres.

  5. 5

    Leave an open bag of baking soda, coffee grounds or charcoal in the car overnight to eliminate any lingering odours.

Tips and warnings

  • Choose a carpet shampoo that is made for pet stains and odours as these are typically the most powerful.

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