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No one likes the way a car smells when a habitual smoker has lighted up in it. Even smokers can’t say that they like this smell. They just don’t notice it. And, perhaps, if you were a smoker up until recently- you’ve now become aware of this pungent odor that you can’t ignore each time you get behind the wheel. Or, you may have bought a car that’s got that distinctive smoke smell inside it. Whatever the reason is, you now want to get rid of that smell, and you’ve come to the right place to find out what to do.
There is one thing that you need to do before anything else. And that’s to give the car a thorough cleaning. Let’s have a look at the best method for giving your car a proper cleaning so that smoke smell can be wiped out.
How to Remove the Smoke Smell Through Cleaning
Before you resort to some of the more obscure tips for removing the smoke smell from a car, it’s best to start with a thorough clean. Now, the aim of this clean isn’t simply to get your car looking good. You’re trying to remove the smoke smell from your car, so you’ll be doing things a little differently to normal.
Empty the Car
The first step is to remove everything from inside the car, including the floor mats, and place them outside. If you’ve recently smoked in the car, there’s a chance that the smoke smell will be clinging to these items. So, if there are items of clothing or anything else that’s washable, then put them in your machine or take them to a dry cleaner. Although you’ve likely done this, just ensure that the ashtray is empty and that there are no remnants from smoked cigarettes anywhere in the vehicle.
Now that you’ve emptied your car. It’s time to give it a good vacuum. That means you’ve got to vacuum everywhere. It would be useful if you have an attachment that can allow you to get into every nook and cranny. The ceiling of the car will need vacuuming. Every piece of upholstery will need to be cleaned.
Vacuuming Tip – Baking Soda
Many people like to sprinkle some baking soda upon the whole of the car’s upholstery and leave it to settle for a few minutes. Baking soda is very good at absorbing unpleasant odors. And there isn’t any harm in dusting the whole of your car’s interior with it, leaving it for a while, and then vacuuming it up. There’s a good chance that it will soak up some of that smoke smell, and it won’t cost you much money. You must do this after you have already given the car one good vacuum. And you need to ensure that the whole of your car’s interior is dry, as any wetness will not react well with the baking soda.
Clean the Windows and Dashboard
Now that you’ve given the car a good vacuum, it’s time to start scrubbing the hard surfaces. That’s right. Smoke can even find its way into these solid surfaces. And if you want to truly remove every trace of the smoke smell from your car, then you’ll need to do a good number on these surfaces too.
Finding the right window cleaner is important because certain window cleaners – especially ones that are very foamy – are ideal to use both for the windows and the dashboard and steering wheel. You need to put a bit of elbow grease into this part. You’re going to have to scrub as hard as you can. It’s worth it, though. As you’ll end up with a car that will smell almost like new and it will look sparkling clean too.
Time to Deal with the Air Filter and Ductwork
Cleaning the interior of the car thoroughly is something that anyone can do. But it’s a bit harder to get inside the actual filtration system, which could be part of the smoke smell problem that you’ve got in your car. If you don’t sort this out, then you could end up with a very clean car that’s just pumping smoky air into your vehicle, therefore, continuing to smell in a way that you just don’t like.
The first thing you need to do is to invest in a replacement air filter for your car. These are inexpensive car products that can be bought online or at any shop that sells car parts. You’ll need to ensure that you find an air filter that’s compatible with your car, but, once again, that’s easy if you purchase the part online. When you fit the air filter inside your car, remember to give the compartment that it fits inside a thorough cleaning, too.
How do You Clean Out the HVAC System?
The HVAC system is what’s in charge of the air that comes into your car, whether that’s the standard hot and cold air that comes through the fans, or the more complex air-conditioned air. Of course, if smoke has managed to get into this system, then your car will continue to pump it and recycle this air until the system has been thoroughly cleaned.
Some products are designed for cleaning out this air. They are deodorizers. And you can find them online or in shops that sell cleaning products for cars. Before we get onto the method, it’s important to mention again that these are not standard deodorizers. So, whatever you do, do not follow this method with the deodorizer that you spray on yourself in the morning. That is not a good idea. You need a proper product that is designed for your HVAC system.
Once you’ve got one of the deodorizers, then the process is relatively straight-forward. You need to find somewhere outdoors that offers you excellent ventilation. Then you have to turn on your car’s engine and switch your air conditioning or fans on to the highest level possible. Next, you need to find where the fresh air is sucked up into your car’s HVAC system, and that’s where you will spray the deodorizer. There should be information on the deodorizer itself that will instruct you on how to do this process, as well as for the recommended amount of time needed to clean out the HVAC system.
Air Out Your Vehicle
Once the whole cleaning process is finished, it can be useful to leave the car to air out for a while. Leave it with the doors and windows open for as long as you’re safely able to. At this point, however, once the cleaning is done, then you should have a smoke-free car, at long last.
Other Tips for Removing Smoke Smell from a Car
A good clean should go a long way to removing the smoke smell from your car. But, of course, if you continue to smoke in the car or allow others to smoke in your car, then you’re going to have to do this thorough clean each time, and that’s just not feasible. In such cases, it can be handy to have something inside your car that will absorb the smell. This isn’t just good for people who want to be able to continue to smoke inside their car, but it can also be useful if you’ve tried just about anything to remove the smoke smell in your car and can’t find a way forward.
As we’ve already learned, baking soda is a superb absorber of smoke smells, and it’s possible to keep a cup of baking soda inside your car if you want something to absorb the smoke smell.
There are lots of other absorbers that smokers also keep inside their cars to soak up some of the smell.
White vinegar can be left inside the car overnight to help absorb the smoke smell. The liquid needs to be exposed. Commonly, people fill up a cup or glass with the vinegar and then place it in the car’s cup holder. This is one of the most popular absorbers when it comes to soaking up the smoke smell. And there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence to show that it works. It’s worth trying white vinegar before the other absorbers.
The other most common absorbers are charcoal, cat litter, newspaper, citrus peel, cinnamon, coffee grounds, and tumble drier sheets. All of these products are used for the same reason, in the hope that they will soak up the smoke smell. You use different methods for each of them, but they are all left inside your car to absorb the smell. Some, like coffee grounds, have their own distinctive odor that can overpower the smell of smoke. And this brings us to our last method for getting rid of the smoke smell in your car.
Masking the Smell
When all else fails, then you should try to mask the smell by putting something inside your car that offers a more powerful odor. The most popular are car air fresheners. There are loads of these on the market, from a simple ‘Christmas tree’ air freshener to air fresheners that feature a purification system inside them.
It’s also possible to invest in aerosol deodorizers that you can spray inside your car after a long journey, but you need to make sure you air out your car too, as these can be quite dangerous if you inhale too much of them. Masking the smell is the very last option. And it’s more of an option for smokers who like to be able to light up in their car but don’t like the pungent odor that comes with the habit.
That’s it. Now you know exactly how to deal with that lingering smell of smoke inside your car. If you’re no longer a smoker – or you never were but have bought a car that used to belong to a smoker – then your best option is to give the vehicle a thorough clean. That means you’ve got to get your vacuum over all the upholstery, remove any clothing that smells of smoke, get a foamy window cleaner for the dashboard and windows. Then you need to clean out the HVAC system with a safe deodorizer after you’ve replaced the cabin’s air filter. If you do all this, then your car should smell as if it was brand new.