How to Remove the Smell of Smoke from Your Car’s Upholstery


When you shop for a used car, it’s possible to find a high-quality model that fits into your preferred price range. Sometimes, however, pre-owned cars come with small inconveniences and issues left behind by their previous owners — one of the most stubborn being the smell of smoke. Knowing how to wash your car is one thing, but smoke sinks into soft surfaces and can be especially challenging to get out. How do get the smoke smell out of a car? Follow the steps below to get your new-to-you vehicle smelling fresh and clean.

Remove Smoke Smell from Car Carpets & Upholstery

If your car has carpet and fabric upholstery, you’ll follow a different cleaning process than you would if the seats were leather. First, you’ll need to grab baking soda and a vacuum. Then, follow the steps below:

  • Vacuum the Interior: Vacuum the carpet and seating surfaces as best you can. Don’t forget to vacuum between the crevices of the seats and underneath the seats. This will help clear out any old ashes.
  • Sprinkle Baking Soda: Pour a generous amount of baking soda over the carpets and sets and let it sit untouched for a while. Baking soda neutralizes odors, which is why boxes of it are often placed in refrigerators.
  • Vacuum Once More: After the baking soda has had time to absorb the smoke smell, vacuum the interior once again. If you can still smell smoke, sprinkle a small amount of baking soda around the car, or you can leave an open box of baking soda in the vehicle to eliminate the smell.

How to Get Rid of Smoke Smell in a Car with Leather Seats

Smoke can permeate into leather upholstery as well. To clean your car’s leather seats and trim, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a Leather Cleaner: You’ll need a cleaner that’s specifically formulated for leather. Check your owner’s manual for suggestions.
  2. Clean the Seats/Repeat as Needed: There’s a good chance you’ll need to clean the seats and trim several times to ensure you’ve removed the smell.

How to Get Cigarette Smell Out of Other Areas of the Car

Once you’ve cleaned the upholstery and carpet, you may be wondering how to get the cigarette smell out of car surfaces throughout the interior. For one, make sure you thoroughly clean the windows and front and rear windshield. The glass can hold a lot of smoke residue, causing the smell to be re-released into the air. Then, replace the cabin air filter to keep the smell from circulating throughout the cabin. It’s not a bad idea to replace your engine air filter at the same time!

Shop for a Used Vehicle at Bentley Austin!

Bentley Austin offers a wide selection of used vehicles for sale near Dallas and Houston. Contact us to learn more about our inventory, or to get more car care tips like how often to rotate your tires or how often to check transmission fluid. While you’re here, take a few minutes to browse our current pre-owned vehicle specials for opportunities to save on a new-to-you model.

Bentley Austin 30.429417, -97.758917.