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How to Get Smoke Smell Out of Car? 16 Different Tricks!

How to Get Smoke Smell Out of Car

If you're wondering how to get smoke smell out of a car? You need first to vacuum and sweep the car and use chemical and natural cleaners to remove the smell completely. 

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While smoke smell might be considered a minor issue in used vehicles, it can be extremely hard to eliminate this smell since it stays within the vehicle’s upholstery and fibers.

Whether you plan to make your car smell brand new or return your car rental, the good news here is that getting rid of the smoke smell is doable and can be performed by very simple steps.

This article provides you with all you need to know to answer the question of “how to get smoke smell out of the car?” 

How to get the smoke smell out of the car? 

Getting rid of smoke smell from your car involves very simple steps divide it into sweeping the vehicle and using natural or chemical cleaners the snuff out any remaining smell:

  • Perform initial vacuuming and sweeping 

Before moving in a step further and using natural or chemical cleaners, it is important to go through the vehicle and perform a quick vacuuming and sweeping. 

Many people might think that vacuuming and sweeping the vehicle might not help get rid of the bad smell. However, when you perform detailed vacuuming, you’re getting rid of all smaller particles that might be causing the bulk of this smoke smell. Thus, do not underestimate the power of vacuuming old carpets and maps. 

  • Take out any trash is from the ashtray 

Although this might be an obvious step, many drivers might miss it, which results in concentrating the smoke smell around the ashtray. Take out any remaining elements in the ashtray, and it's good to use an air freshener and spray around it. According to experts, leaving a thin layer of air freshener can help maintain a good smell in the ashtray without causing any risks of inflammations. 

  • Use vent clip fresheners 

Hanging event clip freshener on the vents helps improve the overall smell of your vehicle. However, many future car buyers might find it a little suspicious to see these vent fresheners indicating issues with the vehicle's smell. Some buyers might think that you were trying to hide something so, be mindful about the number of clip fresheners you're hanging on the vents. 

  • Recirculate the air for about 30 minutes 

While you are cleaning up the vehicle from all smoke smells, you recommend that you turn on the heating system and put it in recirculating mode. This way, you achieve two things: cleaning up the car and getting rid of the bad smell, and the heating system will introduce new fresh air and get rid of the previous old there that has the smoke order. 

  • Change the cabin air filter 

In some severe smoke smell, your vehicle might need to change the air filter. Changing the air filter should be considered regular maintenance that you have to perform once every 15,000 miles. Some drivers might find it useful to change the air filter once every year if they did not hit the 15,000 miles within a year. 

If you hadn't changed the air filter or can't remember when exactly was last time you've changed air filter, it is recommended that you perform a quick air filter change no matter what because they can significantly improve your overall internal smell vehicle. 

  • Neutralize smoke order using upholstery cleaners 

Upholstery cleaners are very effective in getting rid of smoke on are from the vehicle’s components. Find the best cleaner that suits your budget and spread it around all seats, mats, and any potential location within your car that might have a strong smoke smell. After spraying the cleaner, we can use a specified brush to helps scrub it.

One of the best tips for cleaning the vehicle's upholstery is to perform the cleanup outside the vehicle. For example, if you can take the mats or the car seats and clean them up in fresh air, you will notice a big difference. 

  • Use pet odor eliminator 

Did you know that pet odor eliminators can be used to help get rid of smoke from your vehicle? Yes! Many people might find it a little weird that this type of product effectively eliminates the smoke smell.

Pet odor eliminators are designed to get rid of odors and stains, and smells like pet urine. Therefore, give it a try and use these products around the seats and the mats to get rid of the smoke smell. 

  • Place dryer sheets in the vehicle 

Another thing that might sound a little weird to you is dryer sheets. Dryer sheets can make a huge difference in getting rid of the smoke smell from your vehicle. Try placing layers of dryer sheets around several locations within your car and leave it for a couple of hours.

By placing these dryer sheets, they collect and absorb any abnormal smell in no time. They also replace the bad smells with some fresh, pleasant odors and make it impressive once you get into the vehicle! 

  • Clean the heater ducts using highly diluted cleaner 

In some scenarios, the smoke smell might be a little aggressive, and even after performing the previously mentioned steps, you'll still find that the smoke smell is still there.

If that's the case, you can go ahead and use a highly diluted cleaner and spray it inside the heater ducts.

You can't refer to a vehicle’s owner’s manual for better guidance about where these heater ducts are located. Usually, these ducts are located close to the windshield under the hood. 

  • Shampoo the fabric 

Another thing you can try is using shampoo and brushing around all the carpets and mats. Then, you can vacuum the shampoo using and a designated machine called an extractor. This machine can be rented from any supply store in your area. 

  • Try baking soda 

Baking soda is one of the very powerful natural cleaners that we use in our daily pieces to clean up multiple places around our household. Baking soda is also effective in getting rid of any unpleasant smell in your vehicle, especially those related to smoke.

You might need to use an entire 1 pound of baking soda and sprinkle it around the surface is. Consider sprinkling the baking soda around the seats, roof, mats, carpets, etc. Using a cloth or brush, spread the baking soda around and allow it to settle for about 30 minutes.

It's been known that leaving baking soda on the surface is for a longer time helps get rid of the smoke smell much better. Once you're ready to get rid of the baking soda, you can go ahead and use a small vacuum to suck it out from all areas around your vehicle. 

  • Use vinegar and water solution 

Another thing that you might try in your kitchen or around your house is vinegar and water solution. Simply mix vinegar and water and put it in a spray bottle. Make sure to shake it very well before applying it to the vehicles, the last interior and exterior. Then, wipe it out with a dry cloth.

The nice thing about the vinegar and water solution is that it does not leave any strong smells around your vehicle, and it dries out quickly.

  • Try coffee beans 

Coffee beans are a great option for those who don't mind the coffee smell in their vehicles. By placing some coffee beans around different corners within your car, you'll notice that your card smell is gradually switching from smoke to coffee, which is not too bad for many drivers.

However, if you don't prefer the coffee smell, this option might not work very well for you, and you can skip it. 

  • Crumple newspapers 

Automotive experts mentioned that newspapers are effective odor absorbent. This method does not work 100%, but it might be worth a try. All you need to do is crumble up many newspapers and place them in different areas around your car. After about 48 hours, you can take these crumpled newspapers out and notice the difference. 

  • Use activated charcoal 

If none of the mentioned methods worked effectively to eliminate the smoke smell from your vehicle, one good resort would be using activated charcoal.

Activated charcoal should be available in any department store or probably pet supply store. The activated charcoal comes in powder form, meaning you have to place it in a bowl and put the bowl inside the vehicle. By leaving the bowl inside your car for about two to three days, you should notice a significant difference like magic where the charcoal absorbs all abnormal smoke smell from your car.

  • Leave ammonia in the car

Similar to the activated charcoal will, you can also try leaving a couple of ammonia inside the vehicle overnight. The one drawback about this method is that you have to use it multiple times to see some results. Some experts recommend placing the ammonia in the car every night for about one week to see effective results. 

Therefore, if you feel that you're in a rush and you would like to get rid of the smell faster, some of the mentioned methods previously might work better for you. 

How much does it cost to hire a professional to get rid of the smoke smell in my car? 

The final price of getting rid of smoke smell depends on your vehicle's type. In general, if you would like to clean a typical car, cleanup costs might range from $50 to $125.

On the other hand, if your car is much bigger, like a van or an SUV, costs might range from $75 to $150. 

Keep in mind that this cost can differ significantly also depending on where you get the job done. For example, if you decided to go with a small independent repair shop, the price would be much lower than going to an advanced dealership where their employees' hourly rates are much higher.

Many drivers prefer to go to small independent shops to save up on cleanup costs because there are really no significant mechanical skillsets you're looking for. The process is not too complicated.

Other drivers prefer to eliminate costs by cleaning up by themselves at home without needing any professional help. It takes all necessary cleaning products and bringing a friend or family member to provide some help. 


Smoke smell is one of the very challenging issues many drivers suffer from. If you're planning to return a rental car or if you would like to showcase your car to a potential buyer, you must get rid of the smoke smell.

Getting rid of the smoke smell is not impossible, and this article provided you with 16 different methods to get out of this smell and work for you like magic depending on the severity of the smoke smell and the time and effort you put.

If your car has major complications aside from the significant small smell, it might not even be worth spending the time and effort getting rid of the smoke smell. Instead, you might need to evaluate whether it's worth selling your car to Cash Cars Buyer instead.  

Cash Cars Buyer is one of the top-rated car removal companies in the nation that guarantees to pay you the top dollars and will provide you with free towing despite your living location around the United States. 

The best thing about Cash Cars Buyer is that our process is very straightforward and doesn't take more than a couple of days to get your vehicle removed safely and for the most money. 

To learn more about our process and our team, you can reach out to us by giving us a call at 866-924-4608 or visit our home page click on the free instant online offer.

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