How to Remove the Smoke Smell Out of Your Car

The smell of smoke can be very difficult to remove from your car, especially if the previous owner was a smoker. Luckily, there are a few steps that will show you how to get smoke smell out of a car.

No matter how often you air out your car, the smell of smoke can still linger. And that goes for all types of smoke including campfires, cigarettes, and cigars. Before attempting to tackle this common problem, there are a few things to keep in mind. Simply opening the windows and doors isn’t going to be enough to get rid of the smoke smell. Several products on the market can help remove smoke smells from cars. From leather cleaners to APC(all-purpose cleaners), they can all be found at AutoZone.

Know Where the Smell is Coming From 

Similar to a defective MAF sensor, knowing the source of the problem is a key part of resolving it. In the case of smoke smells in cars, the source is usually one of three places: the upholstery, the ventilation system, or the environment. 

The first place you should look is the upholstery since this is where most of the smell will be coming from. Smoke settles and binds to the fibers in the fabric, and it’s tough to get out. If you can’t seem to find the source, then it might be time to check the ventilation system. Outside air is usually the least likely place for the smoke smell to be coming from but it’s still worth checking. 

Once you know where the smoke smell is coming from, you can start taking the proper steps to neutralize it. 

Removing Smoke Smell from Upholstery 

A car’s interior is made up of a variety of materials including fabric, leather, and plastic. These materials can all hold onto the smell of smoke. The first thing you need to do is to identify what type of material your upholstery is made of. 

If your upholstery is made out of fabric, then you’ll need to use a dedicated fabric cleaner. Remember, you need the right tool for the right job. While a general-purpose cleaner might be able to remove some of the smell, it’s not going to be as effective as a fabric cleaner. 

Using a dedicated automotive fabric cleaner that is engineered to remove unwanted odors is going to be much more effective and is going to give you the best results. Be sure to follow the instructions on the cleaner and don’t overdo it. Too much cleaner can make the problem worse by creating unwanted moisture and possible permanent staining. 

Removing Smoke Smell from Leather 

how to clean leather car seats
Cleaning leather car interior

If your upholstery is made of leather, then you’ll need to use an appropriate leather cleaner. Again, it’s important to get the right product for the job. A general-purpose cleaner is not going to in the pores of the leather and remove the smoke smell. You might be tempted to use a household cleaner like vinegar or soap, but this is not a good idea. 

using a leather cleaner, be sure to test it in an inconspicuous area first. This will allow you to see how the cleaner reacts with the leather. Some cleaners can be harsh and cause the leather to fade or discolor, especially on older models. 

Once you’ve found a cleaner that is safe to use, follow the instructions on the bottle. Remember, less is more when it comes to cleaning leather. You don’t want to oversaturate the leather and cause irreversible damage. 

After you’ve cleaned the leather, you should apply a conditioner. This will help to restore the natural oils that have been stripped away by the cleaner. A conditioner will also help to protect the leather from future damage. 

Clean Out the Cabin Air Filter 

engine air filter being removed from the housing
Replacing Old Air Filter

Much like changing the oil, cleaning or replacing the cabin air filter is a maintenance step that is often overlooked. Over time, the air filters can become clogged with dust, dirt, and other debris that can trap that unwanted smoke smell. An old air filter can cause the smoke smell to be recirculated through the ventilation system and make it seem like the problem is worse than it actually is. 

Checking and changing the air filter is a relatively easy process that only takes a few minutes. The first thing you’ll need to do is consult the owner’s manual. This will give you the location of the cabin air filter as well as any specific instructions that might be required to remove it. 

Once you’ve found the filter, remove it and visually inspect it. If you can’t see any light coming through, then it’s time to replace it. Even if the air filter doesn’t seem that dirty, it’s a good idea to replace it with a new one. This will help to ensure that all the smoke smell is removed from the ventilation system

To Sum it Up 

Knowing how to remove smoke smell from car interiors is just as important as using the right products. Be sure to follow the steps outlined above to get rid of that unwanted smoke odor for good! 

If you’re looking for quality car cleaning products, look no further than AutoZone. Buy our smoke odor removal products and restore your ride back to its former glory. 

If the job is too big for you, seek out one of our Preferred Shops to help you do the job.


How to Get Cigarette Smell Out of Car’s Carpet and Upholstery? 

Wondering how to get the smoke smell out of a car? By following the steps outlined above, you can remove the smoke smell from your car’s interior once and for all. The most important thing is to identify what type of material your upholstery is made out of so you can use the right products. 

How to Remove the Smoke Odor from Leather and Trim? 

Hard and non-porous surfaces such as leather and trim are much easier to clean than fabric. For leather seats, all you need is good quality leather cleaner, a few rags, and some elbow grease. Cleaning the trim is even easier. With a little APC(all-purpose cleaner) and water, you can remove most of the odors that have caked up on the hard surfaces of your car. 

How To Get Smoke Smell Out of Car Vents? 

If all surfaces are cleaned and sanitized but the smell persists, it means the vents are the problem. The first step is to remove the vent covers and vacuum out all the debris that has accumulated over time. Then, using a soft brush attachment, go over all the nooks and crannies to loosen up any grime that might be stuck. After that, use a quality cleaner and get in as deep as possible. Let the cleaner sit for a few minutes before wiping it clean. Replace the covers and run the fan on high to dry everything out. 

Advice, how-to guides, and car care information featured on and AutoZone Advice & How-To’s are presented as helpful resources for general maintenance and automotive repairs from a general perspective only and should be used at your own risk. Information is accurate and true to the best of AutoZone’s knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes.

Be sure to consult your owner’s manual, a repair guide, an AutoZoner at a store near you, or a licensed, professional mechanic for vehicle-specific repair information. Refer to the service manual for specific diagnostic, repair and tool information for your particular vehicle. Always chock your wheels prior to lifting a vehicle. Always disconnect the negative battery cable before servicing an electrical application on the vehicle to protect its electrical circuits in the event that a wire is accidentally pierced or grounded. Use caution when working with automotive batteries. Sulfuric acid is caustic and can burn clothing and skin or cause blindness. Always wear gloves and safety glasses and other personal protection equipment, and work in a well-ventilated area. Should electrolyte get on your body or clothing, neutralize it immediately with a solution of baking soda and water. Do not wear ties or loose clothing when working on your vehicle.

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