Help Getting the Cigarette Smoke Smell in Car Air System Out.

Updated on June 18, 2008
T.H. asks from Fort Worth, TX
8 answers

Long story short... had to buy a car that was not budgeted for, after teenager crashed in to both of my cars and the side of my house.
Recent roof replacement after hailstorm left nothing in savings.
Found a really good deal on a car that had only been used as a commercial lease.
It had a faint smell to it, of dealer perfume with a hint of cigarette smoke smell.
I have a Son with asthma so I was a little concerned, but smell was very faint. Both my husband and my father did not smell it. Thought maybe it was just me.
Car was extremely clean and did not show signs of anyone smoking in it.
Went ahead and bought the car.
Turned up the air on the way home and the smell of cigarette smoke spilled into the car.
As I said we got a good deal on this car and the cigarette smell is really the only thing wrong with it.

Does anyone have any idea as to how to get the cigarette smell out of the air system in a car? I really need to get it out for the health of my family. Thank you.

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So What Happened?

Thank you for all of your suggestions.
I Took car to dealership and had them replace the air/pollen filters. This helped clear most of the smell. I wiped down all the dash and non-fabric parts with a natural cleaner. I then placed and all natural low fragrance airfreshener container with charcoal in the car.

I am happy to say now that the smell is dissipating, my allergies are no longer kicking in when I get in the car, and the car has not triggered an asthma attack in my son. There is still a slight smell, but it is decreasing everyday.
Even though the fabric looks clean and doesn't seem to smell, I am still planning on cleaning the fabric when I get the chance.

More Answers

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.R.

answers from Dallas on

Hi T.,
My husband in an auto detailer, he said to tell you that sometimes dealerships neglect to clean the "HEADLINER", now me not knowing much about cars I said whats that he said the top/celing part of the car. That makes a lot of sense b/c when most people clean their vehicles they neglect the "headliner". If you would like you can call him for advice or maybe he could see what he could do for you. He has over 10 years experience detailing cars/trucks/SUV'S.
Hope that works out for you.

1 mom found this helpful
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B.

answers from Houston on

Your car's AC has a filter that the air circulates through before it comes out the vents. I would try to change it out if I were you. Mine is located on the passenger side up inside the dashboard and is relatively easy to reach. You might want to try looking in the same area for yours.

Also I bought a car that had been previously smoked in one time for a good deal too and I made little "trays" using aluminum foil and put a few pieces of charcoal in them and place one under each of my seats. The charcoal soaks up the odors. Change out the charcol every few days or weeks until the smell is gone.

hope you can get rid of it soon!

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.S.

answers from Dallas on

Make sure you get all the filters changed out and any and all ash trays emptied and run through your dishwasher, and while the weather is still warm, have someone watch your kids at home (or do this while they are in school), and just go for a drive with the A/C on "full blast" and the windows rolled down. You might have to do this for several days.

I buy all my cleaning products from a company that makes products that are naturally derived and SAFER for you, your family, your pets, and the environment. A lot of people who are experiencing asthma have great results of reduced attacks with using these products.

You can send me a private message or email me directly at [email protected]____.com if you'd like to know more! (We started using the products when my son came home from the hospital with breathing issues.)

Let me know if I can help!
~J.~
###-###-####

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

D.O.

answers from Dallas on

I use a cleaner/deodorizer/odor neutralizer called Solumel that gets out all kinds of crazy smells. I would definitely recommend it!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

W.P.

answers from Houston on

Dear T.:
I would try pipe cleaners drenched in rubbing alcohol. Try to wipe as deeply in all the vents as you can. Then I would shampoo the inside of the whole car (carpet, seats, etc.). When you are done, spray Febreeze on everything and into the air con vents. Let the air con run for a while with open windows to get the staleness out, then turn it off and spray air fresheners into them. You won't get all of it out, but it should be a lot better. Of course, you can ask a car repair shop whether they can somehow clean those ducts - they may be better equipped.

Stupid question: Have you checked whether the car has an ashtray? It might be full - clean it or toss it. Once the source of the smell is removed, it cannot stay forever.

I use a small air spray for the car and room sprays from the dollar store. It makes the car smell better for a while, and eventually it should fade away.

I tried the Ionizer from Sharper Image for the car. That is pretty useless. However, the home edition works well (you may have one of those already), perhaps you can run the air con with the Ionizer in the car via extension cord in the garage. It should extracte particles from the air, and again what is gone is gone.

Good luck,
W.

Good luck,
W.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

A.K.

answers from Dallas on

I have a neighbor who is a mechanic and I told him about a mildew smell when I turned on my A/C in my car. He told me to first, not leave the A/C or heat on when you turn off the car (I don't anymore) and to spray Lysol in the intake vent in front of the windshield (outside)- maybe when the A/C is off and then when it's on. That worked great to get out the smell. I would assume that after changing the filter, if you do that (and maybe spray Lysol up the vents in the car), it could fix it up.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.H.

answers from Dallas on

Tobacco will creep into every place, including padding, carpet, etc; so, you'll have to work at it good, but you can do it! Maybe a good "washing" of the interior with a little soapy water and wash towel. Do you know anyone with a wet/dry vac that you could use to suck out the water from the interior, if you gave it a REALLY good washing? :)

You might want to talk to a detailing shop and find out what they do. You may even want to call a local Alcoholics Anonymous to get some ideas, as they may have some, too.

I would try vacuuming with baking soda and leaving an open jar of coffee beans in the car overnight to help absorb the odors. Drive with the windows open when you can (when your son's not in the car.) Vacuum often. Be sure to carry meds for your son, just in case something triggers an attack.

Anyway, I hope you get some better ideas, as I'm sure there are lots of Mamas with more ideas and advice.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.B.

answers from Dallas on

T., One trick I found helpful is to take 2 kneehi stockings and put a few spoonfuls of coffee [ground coffee] tie the ends up and put them under the seats where nobody can get to them,Then i take leather cleaner and do a once over the dash and saets if they are leather-lemon scented leather spray all the better. This helped me so much that I leave the hose w/ coffee on a continueus basis. Hope this helps S.

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