How to Get Cigarette Smell Out Of A Car Step By Step Guide

At times, driving can be quite draining, especially when driving for long hours. People have different ways of coping with boredom, with some opting for a cigarette stick on the road. If you prefer smoking as you drive, you face one common problem: how to get cigarette smell out of car. In other instances, you may not be a smoker, and maybe you got the vehicle from someone who smokes—the same problem to deal with.

The burning smell is quite strong, and it may be uncomfortable for non-smokers. The stench may linger for a long time, and it may catch on to your attires. Everything in the car will soon have a whiff of cigarettes.

We come to your aid, showing you how to remove cigarette smoke from the car.

How to Get Cigarette Smell Out Of Car: Step By Step Guide

How to Get Cigarette Smell Out Of Car

Step 1: Cleaning the Car

The first step in dealing with cigarette smoke in your car is cleaning it. In this case, you pay more attention to the interior. Start by removing ash and cigarette butts. The smoking remnants, especially butts, are a major source of the stench in the car.

You have to dig through the interior to ensure there is no untouched surface. Spaces between your seats and under them are the main areas where the mess lodges. For better results, you can use a vacuum cleaner. Also, target the dashboard, glove compartment, and door panel. Here, you may find ash that is responsible for the smell.

Do not forget the ashtray, if your car has one. The good thing with general cleaning is that it helps eliminate other odors in the vehicle. Use the vacuum to remove residual dirt from your car seats, as the upholstery absorbs the smells. Clean the car windows as they also harbor the smell. You may notice a -thin dark or brown film on the windows, which are by-products of smoking tobacco.

If you have leather upholstery, you can use baking soda on the surface. Spread a thin amount of this substance and let it rest for some time. For instance, if you want to clean the vehicle in the morning, apply the baking soda at night. It will absorb the stink. When cleaning the interior, use your vacuum cleaner to deal with the dustiness from the baking soda.

If possible, go for professional car cleaning services. Here, your vehicle will get a proper clean-up and will clear up the stench to a great degree.

Step 2: Aeration

After cleaning, you need to air the car as there may be some reek. If you are a smoker, you may not notice the smell, but other people will feel it. This is why aeration is essential to get smoke smell out of car.

You can go the simple way of airing the interior by opening windows and doors, more so on a breezy day. Optionally, you can turn on the air conditioning unit for air circulation. A thing to know is that the cigarette stench may linger in the AC vent. As such, when you turn on the AC unit, you will catch the scent of burnt tobacco.

 In this case, an odor eliminator will have your back. The Dakota car odor eliminator is an excellent choice. It will do away with the stench quickly, leaving you with a fresh interior. You may also use it to remove pet odors, and other offensive smells in your vehicle.

Another way to go is to remove the vehicle’s upholstery, if removable, and put them outside for some time.

Step 3: Neutralizing the Scent

As mentioned earlier, cigarette smoke is strong and sometimes hard to remove. This is mostly due to the smoke’s content, which can go through hard and soft surfaces. Cleaning and airing the car may not be enough to get rid of cigarette scents from the vehicle.

Use of Odor Absorbers

The scenario calls for ways to neutralize cigarette smoke smell. There are several products you can use to do away with this nuisance. One of them is Ozium air sanitizer, which will deal with the odor and bacteria. A standout thing about this product is that it does away with the scent instead of masking it. It is great for the permanent elimination of the smoke smell.

Additionally, you can use dryer sheets, which absorb odors. Place the sheets in various areas of the vehicle’s interiors, like under seats and on the dashboard. On exposure to heat from the sun, the sheets will release a pleasant scent to neutralize that of cigarettes.

If you rely on dryer sheets, you have to place them regularly until there is no whiff of cigarette smoke. Ask a non-smoker for confirmation for accuracy.

Air Fresheners

When looking at how to get smoke smell out of car quickly, air fresheners are the ideal pick. There are various kinds of fresheners in the market, like aerosol sprays. They will mask the smell, and if used for a prolonged time, they can completely eliminate it.

Air purifiers like the MOSO air purifying bag will work to your benefit. The bag contains Moso bamboo charcoal, which is effective in odor absorption. One bag covers 90-square feet, the standard size of a sedan. You can place it on the dashboard for effectiveness.

Use of Household Items

There are household items that can help neutralize the smell. The go-to household items for removing the reek include vinegar, baking soda, and roasted coffee. Spraying some vinegar in the car will deal with mild odors.

Baking soda does a great job of absorbing smells. Place it in various places in the vehicle, and leave it for some time. When there is no hint of tobacco smoke in car, you can clear the baking soda with a vacuum cleaner.  

Roasted coffee is an excellent choice and works similarly to baking powder. It may leave your car with a strong smell of coffee.

You can check out this video for more guidance on how to remove cigarette smell from your car.

Is It Safe To Use A Cigarette Odor Eliminator?

Using the cigarette odor eliminator is a fast way of removing the smoke smell from your car. If the vehicle is a recent purchase and it reeks of burnt tobacco, you can use this product. Odor eliminators come in various forms. You can get it as an aerosol spray or gel.

Ozium smoke and odors eliminator gel is such an example. It is a pack of four gels, assuring you of constant fragrance release for a fresh interior. It does not melt and is ideal for small spaces. Back to the main question, is the odor eliminator safe to use? In most cases, it is safe though some brands may have a strong fragrance, which can be quite uncomfortable to people with respiratory issues.

When you use this scent remover, you will notice the results immediately. The cigarette odor will start fading off immediately. If you are a consistent smoker, it will take a longer time. However, if you are not into the habit, the car will be odorless in a matter of days.

You can also use it as an air freshener, which will help you beat other smells in the vehicle. If you have the aerosol variety, you can spray it generously in your vehicle when you park it at night. Target areas like under the seats, the interior roof, dashboard, and seats. If it is AC safe, spray it onto the vents to remove the smell and to circulate fresh air.

Pros of Using Cigarette Odor Eliminator

The major advantage of using a cigarette odor eliminator is that it works promptly. You will notice the odor elimination a few minutes after using it. If it is a sedan, it will cover the whole interior in a single take. This makes it economical, especially if you are using a gel.

Another great thing about this product is that it does not mask the scent. Instead, it does its best to get rid of it. Masking agents mix with the odors, giving you the illusion that there is no problem. However, when the masking agent wears off, the smell will still be present.

The cigarette odor eliminator is very versatile. Besides dealing with cigarette stench, it also removes pet odor and a musky scent due to moisture. It works great in your house too, if you are having the same problem.

Moreover, it is among the longest-lasting car air freshener varieties that you can get. In your vehicle, it can last for up to six months before you go for a replacement. 


A downside you may encounter from using a cigarette odor eliminator is the strength of its scent. Some are very strong that they may be more uncomfortable than the cigarette reek. It may be problematic to people with allergies or respiratory issues like asthma.

The smell remover may not be pet-friendly. If your pet comes across it, there is a risk of poisoning due to its chemical composition. Gels are ideal for use in small spaces. If you have a large car, you may need several cans to get a fresh atmosphere.

What Happens If You Continue To Drive With Cigarette Smell?

Some people, especially smokers, are comfortable driving with a cigarette smell in the vehicle. It may be a problem for nonsmokers, who will feel the smell to the extreme. The odor is very strong, more so if the driver is a habitual smoker. The interior may feel congested and may lead to respiratory problems like a clogged air pathway.

It may be serious for people with respiratory problems like bronchitis or asthma. The smell may trigger a reaction that can be fatal. This also applies to people with allergies. The other problem is that your clothes and other items will bear the reek. Smoke from tobacco products is very thick and will stick to various surfaces. You may get the odor on you if you contact these surfaces.

You will have a big hurdle when you want to sell the car. The stench will affect the vehicle’s price, as many potential clients, mostly those who do not smoke, will shun it. It is advisable to deal with the problem promptly before it becomes your car’s signature odor.

Finally, it may get in the way of the detection of some engine problems. For instance, if you have poor combustion, there will be an odor of poorly burnt fuel. The cigarette whiff, if strong, will prevent you from detecting such problems.

Tips and Tricks for a Cigarette Smell-Free Car

Follow the tips highlighted below to bid goodbye to cigarette smoke in your car.

Quit Smoking In The Car

Quitting smoking in the car is a sure way to deal with the smell. If you love smoking when driving, you may opt for occasional smoke breaks. Park the car and smoke outside. This will prevent your clothes and car upholstery from having a whiff of burnt tobacco.

If it is not possible to smoke outside, open the window or turn on the AC unit to bring fresh air and remove the smoke.

Regular Cleanup

Performing a regular interior cleanup will do away with any reek. When other odors combine with that of cigarettes, the car may be unbearable. For example, mustiness from wet parts like the carpet, combined with tobacco stench, will be too strong.

Use shampoo for cleaning seats, windows, and the dashboard. Follow up by aerating the inside. You can turn on the air conditioner or open the doors. You may also remove the upholstery and air them the same way you would do with your clothes.

Use Coffee Or Baking Powder

Roasted ground coffee and baking powder are excellent choices of natural car air fresheners. You can put a handful of either of them in filter paper and secure it with a rubber band. Place the bags in different parts of the car where they will take in the stench. Roasted coffee will leave the vehicle with a distinct smell of coffee.

How to get cigarette smell out of car Reddit discussions recommend spiking the coffee with essential oils like mint or lavender.

Use An Air Freshener

Air fresheners, air purifiers, and odor eliminators are some of the chemical-based products you may use to get the cigarette smell out of the car. There are plenty of options in the market, from aerosols, odor-eliminating gels, and charcoal bags. They are fast, and some offer a great temporary solution.


How Long Does It Take To Get Smoke Smell Out Of Car?

Smoke smell in cars may be disturbing to many people. It calls for its removal for the car to be bearable. The time it will take to get rid of the scent depends on the method you choose. If you use natural air fresheners, it may take up to three weeks to have a completely odorless interior.

Others, like air purifiers and odor eliminators, work fast, and you may have a fresh car in a matter of days, even less than a week. The good thing about using purifiers is that they last long and are very strong.

What Is The Fastest Way To Get Rid Of the Cigarette Smell?

Cigarette smell can get in the way of several things, like the sale of your car. In such a situation, you need a fast and efficient way of stamping out the scent. Use of odor eliminators or air fresheners will have the vehicle inside in proper form.

Their chemical components absorb and get rid of the smoky scent. For the best results, clean the car first.

How Do You Get Cigarette Smell Out Of Car Vents?

When dealing with tobacco smell in your vehicle, there are parts that you may miss, such as the car vents. It is a major air pathway, and the scent may settle in its assembly. Start by turning the engine on, then switch on the air conditioner at maximum cool settings. Also, turn on the fan for air circulation. Put your windows down and let the AC unit run as it blows off the scent.

Later on, you can spray some air freshener into the vent and turn on the air conditioner for proper odor removal.

What Is The Best Cigarette Smoke Odor Eliminator?

The cigarette smoke odor eliminator is one of the most effective alternatives for dealing with a smoke scent. Among its appealing factors include longevity and scent elimination capability.

Among the best that you can get is the FRiEQ car air purifier. This kit uses ion replacement technology, which is very effective in dealing with stenches. It produces negative ions that boost air quality by removing ions from cigarette smoke. It is easy to use and works with all vehicle models by connecting it to the cigar lighter receptacle.

How Do You Find Out Where Cigarettes Are Coming From?

Cigarette smoke is pretty strong, and identifying its origin is simple. If you are not a smoker, you can easily point out where it is coming from in your car. Among the major culprits are cigarette butts and ash. When you locate them, you have the upper hand in dealing with the problem.

Why Does My Car Suddenly Smell Like Cigarettes?

If you are not a smoker, a sudden smell of tobacco smoke can get you by surprise. The pointers are either someone smoked in the car or dropped cigarette residue like ash. The other cause is if someone who smokes left their clothing item in the car. If you notice the scent, do your best to rectify it promptly before it becomes severe.

Final Word

Cigarette smoke in your car may lead to some discomfort, especially to nonsmoker passengers. If you are dealing with such a situation, this article is a great asset. Refer to it to see how to get rid of the cigarette smell from the car. Always ensure that the interior is clean and well-aired to keep other odors at bay.


Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

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