Heels & Horsepower Magazine


Smelly Car? Use These Household Items To Get Rid Of Cigarette Odour

By H&H Admin

The smell of cigarettes is normal to smokers but can make for an undesirable ride if your passengers don’t smoke.

Odours are unpleasant and annoying. Smoke odours in particular, caused by cigarettes, cigars and marijuana can be difficult to get rid of as they permeate the seats, carpets, door & roof linings and even the hard surfaces of a car. 

Keeping your car interior clean and free of smoke smells is important for both your health and, surprisingly, the resale value of your car.  There are many different commercial solutions for getting rid of the smell of smoke but there are a few household items that you could use to combat odours in your car.

White Vinegar

Pour undiluted vinegar into a bowl and let it sit overnight on the floor of your car.  Vinegar is great for absorbing odours but it is strong enough to damage materials such as leather so do not pour it directly onto any surfaces. 

If you drive an SUV or fairly large vehicle, you will need to place two or three bowls in the car, (front passenger, rear passenger and luggage areas) to get the job done.  If one night’s treatment doesn’t work, repeat it the following evening. 

Cat Litter

Place a bowl of cat litter in your car and let it sit overnight.  Cat litter is an excellent deodorizer because it contains odour-eliminating ingredients such as baking soda and activated charcoal.  If it is effective against cat urine, you best believe it can do a good job in your car.


Charcoal is so effective as a purifier that it is used to decontaminate drinking water, and if it can do that then you can trust it to effectively remove undesirable smells from your car.  

Activated charcoal is extremely porous and absorbs anything floating around in the air.  All you need to do is open a bag of charcoal briquettes and leave it in your car overnight.  

Citrus Peels

Citrus peels are a natural remedy for removing the stench of smoke smells.  Simply leave a bowl of lemon, lime, orange, or grapefruit peels in your for a period of 24 to 48 hours.  

Not only will the peels eliminate odours but you will also enjoy the added benefit of a nice citrus aroma in your car.  Just remember to leave the windows closed so as not to attract fruit flies and other insects.

Baking Soda

Sodium carbonate, also known as baking soda, has an assortment of uses including getting rid of nasty smells and blanching stains.

To use the alkaline and abrasive powder, first, clean the car’s interior, (preferably with a steam cleaner), then generously sprinkle baking soda on the seats, headrests and carpets.  Allow it to dry and then vacuum it off after 20 minutes or longer. You can leave the soda overnight depending on how strong the smell is.  The longer you leave it the more time the soda has to neutralize the smoke smells and other unpleasant odours.  

Coffee Grounds

If you need to get rid of the smell of smoke quickly then coffee grounds are just what you need, so don’t throw them away after you drink your next cup of brew.  

Although this is the least effective solution for absorbing smells, coffee grounds are the most cost-effective.  Allow the coffee grounds to dry, then place them in small bowls in the car.  Leave overnight with the windows closed.  Remove or repeat if the smell is still there in the morning.  

Of course, if you don’t like the smell of coffee, then go for baking soda which doesn’t have an odour.

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla has a strong, sweet fragrance and is effective in eliminating the smell of smoke and other bad odours.  Vanilla extract can be used in a few different ways.

  • Place several drops of vanilla extract onto cotton balls and leave them in the car for a day.
  • Soak a wet rag with vanilla extract and wipe down hard surfaces in the car.
  • Put a few drops of extract into small containers and leave them in the car for a few hours.

Clean interior air is vital for people with raspatory problems therefore it is important that you steam clean your car and get rid of unpleasant odours regularly.  It is not enough to just use air fresheners, as a combination of a sweet scent and stale cigarette smoke could be quite nauseating, to say the least.  

Keeping small containers of charcoal or baking soda in a sealed container, (with a few holes drilled into the lid) in the car will help prevent odours from building up as baking soda and charcoal act as natural air deodorizers.

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