Ahhhh… the sweet aroma of a cigar. Even though the smell may be enjoyable when it's fresh, when it’s stale and stuck in your car, it may not be so pleasant. Tobacco smoke can penetrate most surfaces with repeated exposure. Our cars are no exception. Known as third-hand smoke, it can coat both porous and hard surfaces of a car's interior. A smokey smell is often detected after purchasing a used car.
When desiring to remove cigar smoke odor from a vehicle, keep in mind the different surface types. Hard surfaces respond to scrubbing, whereas porous surfaces respond better to washing. Each will react to various products, many of which are found in the house as everyday items. Oftentimes the cigar smell will require several applications and may take some amount of time and effort to remove the unpleasant odor. Below is a list of tried and true hacks that will help you to get your vehicle smelling fresh again in no time!
Vinegar is a very common remedy. Either apple cider or white vinegar is appropriate. Both are environmentally friendly. Start with a gallon of warm water and add two cups of vinegar. With a microfiber cloth, scrub affected areas and rinse. If the car has removable seat covers, remove and place in laundry adding a half cup of vinegar, omitting the laundry detergent. If cleaning leather seats, vinegar can be used but in different proportions.
Use one part vinegar with one part water and apply with a clean soft cloth. The acid in vinegar can be drying so it’s important to then give the seats a rub with a top-quality leather conditioner or wipes. A vinegar solution can also be used to wash the interior windows, both front, back, and side, as well as the rear-view mirror and dashboard screen, not only eliminating odors but leaving them sparkling. A good quality commercial, ammonia-based window cleaner could be used instead.
Whether cleaning a hard or porous surface, remember the door handles, doors, dashboard, visors, steering wheel, console, ashtray, and overhead light covers.
After a vinegar wash, ammonia may be used to rid the unpleasant odor of the vinegar, which will dissipate on its own. Be certain to use ammonia in a well-ventilated area, adding one cup to one gallon of water and one-half cup to a laundry load. The trunk is no exception to smoke residue. Alternatively, washing with hydrogen peroxide and water solution will help with removing cigar smells.
Baking soda is another non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and easy to come by-roduct to remove odors. First, vacuum the car's upholstered seats and carpet. Make sure to vacuum all crevices and under seats where odors, fallen ash, and particles may be hiding. Empty ashtrays and be as thorough as possible. Next, sprinkle baking soda on surfaces and allow it to sit for several hours. The baking soda will soak up the smoke residue and neutralize it by allowing the smoke particles to cling to it.
If necessary, repeat the process, leaving the baking soda in place overnight. Again, if the seat covers are removable, place them in the washing machine and add one cup of baking soda to the load using the warm water setting. Placing a few open containers of baking soda underneath the seats will help too. Washing the ashtray with baking soda to eliminate smokey smells is a must.
A garment steamer to steam clean the porous surfaces of the car interior before deodorizing and air freshening will be the best way to remove smoke residue. The residual oils and non-combustible components of a cigar, in the form of ash, are what lingers and cause unpleasant odors to remain. When they are trapped in the car interior, they need to be removed. A steam cleaner is a very effective part of the cleaning process.
A top-quality carpet cleaner and the use of an extractor will deep clean the rugs and remove unpleasant smells. The lingering, stale, and pungent smell leftover from tobacco smoke in a vehicle can make riding in it very uncomfortable. Tobacco smoke is actually made up of chemicals that form waxy and oily deposits that can penetrate carpet and cloth seats and sit on hard surfaces. Being a small and confined space, the car interior will absorb smokey smells over a period of time, creating a health hazard. So, it is important to clean both the porous surfaces and the hard surfaces.
Charcoal has been used for ages to deodorize and detoxify. It can bond with molecules and absorb unpleasant odors and contaminants, thereby helping the car interior to smell better. Place small bowls of crushed charcoal under seats for a few days. Repeat the process if tobacco smoke is still detected. Activated charcoal can be purchased from grocery, drug, or big box stores. Regular charcoal briquettes, crushed, are also readily available to use. Either will be effective.
Used coffee grounds are also effective in helping to rid the car interior from cigar smoke smells. First, dry the coffee grounds. Next, place in small bowls and place under the car seats and on the floor, and leave overnight. After removal, if the unpleasant odor is still evident, repeat the process.
Cut apples are a bit more unusual of an approach, however, they can be used to freshen the car interior. Allow them to sit overnight in the vehicle to absorb smokey smells and leave a natural apple air freshener scent when removed.
A product made from bamboo charcoal is a low-tech method that will act as both an air purifier and an air freshener. Originating in five-year-old bamboo plants, it is harvested and burned in extremely high ovens. It will reduce smoke residue due to its high rate of absorbency. It will absorb unpleasant odors like a sponge, picking up smokey smells. However, even though it is long-lasting, eventually it will need to be replaced.
A specialized air freshener for smokers should be used after a thorough cleaning. These are typically available online or at the auto parts store. If the smokey smell persists, it may be trapped in the car’s air vents. In order to release the smoke residue, the special air freshener can be placed in the car interior with an air conditioner using the recirculate option while the air freshener is released. The use of a botanically based air freshener will help to mitigate the cigar smell without heavy chemicals. Leave the car interior with a pleasant scent with odor removers that can be sprayed onto the cloth seats. They will absorb tobacco smoke while neutralizing and deodorizing. It is important to deodorize the car ceiling which can retain smoke residue.
A cabin air filter is used in most cars to filter re-circulated or fresh air. Smoke residue can penetrate these filters and become embedded in them. The car interior air will continue to be contaminated if this feature is not properly addressed. By referring to the vehicle manual or a car repair guide, you can generally find the location of the filter. It is often located behind the glove box. Remove the old smoke-filled filter and discard. Next, replace with a new filter that has preferably been treated with a non-toxic odor eliminator.
An air purifier can be placed inside the car's interior to create a healthier atmosphere, including eliminating tobacco smoke odors. An excellent type plugs into the lighter socket where it acts as an ozone generator, neutralizing contaminants in the car interior. Other air purifiers come with filters, which, while they can be effective, will need to be regularly replaced.
There are many and varied methods and tricks to removing a cigar smoke smell from your car interior. For the health and comfort of passengers, it is very important to rid the car of thirdhand smoke. It will also help in maintaining the value of the vehicle. Using these hacks will prove very useful. While they may take some time and extra effort, it will be time and effort well spent.