Tip Sheet

A simple step-by-step guide to ridding your car of smoke stench

It might seem a bit much, but this will do the trick
PHOTO: Sathish M (from Pexels)

The stench of cigarette smoke easily sticks to clothing, regardless if you’re the one smoking or not. Now, imagine that same smoke circulating inside your car. Simply put, that odor won’t come off easily.

If you regularly smoke inside your vehicle, there’s a good chance that it’ll take some thorough cleaning and aeration to remove the smell of smoke inside it. We’ve made a simple step-by-step guide you can follow to remove the smoky odor in your vehicle for good.

1) Gather the proper materials.

Apart from the usual microfiber cloth, here’s what you’ll be needing:

  • Baking soda
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • All-purpose cleaning solution (any brand) or vinegar-water solution
  • Air freshener (optional)

2) Completely remove ash and cigarette residue from inside your car.

Once you’re done gathering the materials you need, start off by removing all the ash and cigarette residue inside your vehicle. Empty the ashtray and leave it out to dry, and take out all the floor mattings for cleaning as well. Once you’re done with that...

3) Clean the interior using a vacuum.

You won’t be able to remove everything with manual cleaning. Use a vacuum to thoroughly clean the inside, and be sure to cover all corners because ash easily slips through the tightest of spots.

4) Scatter baking soda over the soft surfaces of the interior.

After completely vacuuming the inside, you can proceed to apply baking soda on the interior. You only need to pour the powder on all soft surfaces of the interior, and there’ll be no need to mix it with water. Again, be sure that all soft surfaces are covered. Also, since smoke naturally goes up, make sure to rub a lot of baking soda on your headliner.


5) Wait for 12-36 hours, then vacuum-clean the cabin again.

After the prescribed time, completely vacuum the whole interior twice to remove all the baking soda you’ve sprinkled around. You have to do this twice because the powder gets in between the fabrics just as easily as ash does. Be sure to empty the vacuum cleaner bag in between repetitions.

6) Wipe all the hard surfaces clean.

Clean the hard surfaces of your interior—this includes the dashboard, the windshield, the mirrors, and the side panels—using an all-purpose cleaning solution. It won’t matter which brand you go for, as long as you’re sure that the mixture is safe to use on any surface and that you follow the usage instructions carefully so as not to accidentally damage anything.

If you want to use a natural and less harmful solution, you may opt for a mixture of vinegar and water to wipe the hard surfaces of your vehicle. Just be sure to wipe everything with a clean cloth or paper towel once you’re done.

7) Optional step: Clean the ventilation and recirculate the air.

If you can, check your car’s air filter. You can clean it or simply replace it with a new one—either will still significantly improve air quality. After this, shift the vents to its ‘recirculate’ setting and open all the doors to aerate the vehicle properly. Leave it for at least an hour, then you can finally vacuum-clean the interior one last time before you wrap things up.

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Take note that when you actually do this optional step, make sure you’re parked under a shaded area—or that at least that the skies will be clear— because it’ll be another problem on its own if your car’s interior accidentally gets soaked in rainwater.

A final word of advice: You might need to do this whole method more than once. Depending on the severity of the smoke smell that’s stuck to your car’s interior, repetition may be necessary. Don’t worry, though, since consistent thorough cleaning of the interior will eventually get you that pleasant car smell you’ve always wanted.

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PHOTO: Sathish M (from Pexels)
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