How to Get Smoke Smell Out of a Car

January 27, 2012

Getting the smoke smell out of a car is difficult because you have 2 different things you want to do. One process is eliminating the smoke smell from the carpet and upholstery. The other is getting the smell out of the heater and air conditioning system which is difficult. It is very expensive to remove and clean the duct system but below details a low cost way to clean the ducts.

Materials & Tools:

  • Vacuum
  • Steam cleaner
  • Air deodorizer

Step 1. Cleaning

You first want to completely clean the car. This means getting all trash out and wiping down the inside with a cleaning product. You also want to completely vacuum the upholstery and the rug. Make sure all the surfaces are clean so that the smoke smell will not be able to hide anywhere.

Step 2. Steam Cleaning

To get rid of the smoke smell from the upholstery you want to steam clean the interior. It is best to use an odor remover that uses an enzyme. This enzyme will break down the chemicals that are causing the smell. This is generally more expensive but is definitely worth the cost. This can get rid of smoke but if you have other odors, you first need to determine the cause so you can completely get rid of the smell.

Step 3. The Duct System

Now you are ready to tackle the air duct system and completely remove the smoke from it. Get a good bottle of odor neutralizer. You want to park your car in a well ventilated area. If the weather is nice then park it outside. Make sure the parking brake is set and start the engine up. You want the fan and the air conditioner to be on full blast. Do not have the air recirculate but make sure you have the fresh air on.

Step 4. The Air Intake

You want to look over at the front fender near the passenger side and find the air intake for the air conditioning and heater. Most of the time this is found just under the windshield, although it can be found in a different place depending on your car. You want to spray the deodorizer directly on the intake screen so it goes into the system. Go into the car to make sure it is getting into the system. The deodorizer will get the smoke out of the blower, evaporator, and ducting, all the places that smoke will stick.

Step 5. Clean the Heater

Now you want to set the heater onto full heat. Keep spraying the deodorizer into the same air intake until you don’t smell any smoke. With the heater on, the deodorizer will clean the ducting, blower, and heating core.

Step 6. Further Cleaning

If you find that this still does not remove the smoke, then you want to give your car an ozone shock treatment. This will kill any bacteria that will hold onto the smoke odors and denature any odor compounds so they are no longer smelly. It can take some time to get rid of the smoke odors. Most people really want to get rid of the cigarette smoke odor.

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