How to remove the smoke smell from your car’s upholstery

In a post from AutoTrader, Ané Theron shares some tips on how to get rid of the smoke smell in your car.

Did you buy the car of your dreams from a guy with a 20-a-day Camel-habit? Or perhaps you’ve been smoking in your car for the past five years, and realized that a non-smoker may actually want to buy it? Getting rid of the icky can be tricky, but with a little help from some cheap, everyday ingredients, a sweet-smelling car is just a few steps away.

Cat litter crystals

Our number-one tip for removing odours: put cat litter crystals in a bowl inside your car until the smell is absorbed. Some brands deodorize as well! And kitty litter crystals have another brilliant function: Because of its ability to absorb moisture, the litter crystals will also prevent windows from fogging up, if you left your window open during a rainstorm.

Ground coffee

Coffee has quite an overpowering smell, but left in an open container in your car, it will also help to erase that post-party smell from your car. Keep it in your car for as long as you need.


Known for absorbing toxins, it’s just as good at eliminating offensive odours, be it in your fridge or your car! Keep an open bag of charcoal (or a couple briquettes) in your car until the smell has disappeared.

White spirit vinegar

Poured into a cup and stored in your car’s cup holder, white vinegar one of the oldest remedies to rid your car of all kinds of offensive smells.


Boil cinnamon sticks in water, discard the sticks, and use the liquid for a natural air-freshener. Pour it into a cup and place it in your car’s cup holder. As the car gets hot from the sun, the liquid inside the cup will deodorize and freshen up your stale-smelling upholstery.

Citrus peels

Next time you peel an orange or lemon, put those peels in a cup and keep it in your car. A natural scent is so much easier on the senses than those synthetic, store-bought types.

A good valet and/or steam-clean

Taking your car for a proper valet will be money well-spent, to remove those stubborn odours – pet owners will also benefit from a good valet for their car, if the car smells like Great Dane or just wet dog. Many carpet cleaning companies also do steam-cleaning for cars, and do deep extraction as well.