To eliminate smoke odor from car interiors, your first thought might be to use an air freshener. While there are hundreds of those products on the market and each manufacturer “guarantees” their effectiveness, in most cases, air fresheners simply replace one odor with another.
As the more pleasant scent wears off, you will smell the smoky scent again, especially if you have a good sense of smell. Here are the best suggestions around for eliminating the smell completely.
Start by cleaning everything thoroughly. Even if it looks clean, the odors are hiding somewhere. Usually, they are hiding in the carpet. If the seats are made of fabric, they may be hiding there. If the ceiling is covered with some kind of material, that could be the source of the smell.
Any kind of fabric is likely to harbor long-lasting scents. Wood, vinyl, leather, plastic and metal materials are probably not the source of your problem. The only exception is an ashtray. If your car has one, get rid of it. The tobacco and nicotine smell can be removed with repeated soakings in vinegar and baking soda, but it’s easier just to throw the removable portion of the ashtray away.
Vinegar and baking soda are helpful for removing smoke odor from car interiors, too. But the first step is to brush the carpet with a stiff brush to loosen any dirt. If the floor mats or seat covers are removable, it may be easier to replace them than it is to clean them. Floor mats and seat covers are relatively inexpensive.
Once you have brushed the carpets to loosen particles of dirt, use a good vacuum to suck up everything that you can. Recline the seats completely and vacuum out the crevices. Use a cleaner appropriate for the material. You will find all kinds of interior cleaners at auto accessory stores.
After cleaning and vacuuming, the next step for removing smoke odor from car interiors is to get two big bowls and two towels. Pour white distilled vinegar on the towels. Place one bowl in the front and the other in the back. If it is a very large vehicle, use more bowls.
You can also sprinkle baking soda on the carpet and allow that to sit while the vinegar is absorbing the odors. Baking soda can also be sprinkled on fabric covered seats. Let it sit for about two hours if possible.
If none of this works for you to eliminate smoke odor from car interiors, you may need professional help. Auto detailers can use steam cleaning or other methods to get rid of the smoky smell.