How to Clean a Smoker's Car

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If you smoke in your car or have inherited a car from a smoker, you know that the smell can be overwhelming. In addition to the smell, the car has most likely built up a layer of yellow tar all over the vehicle.

Things You'll Need

  • Warm water
  • Vinegar
  • Bucket
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Spray bottle
  • Newspaper
  • Sock
  • Charcoal or unused coffee grounds
  • Bowl
  • Baking soda
  • Remove the ashtray of the car if possible. Empty any ashes. Immerse the ashtray in a bucket of half warm water and half vinegar. Remove it after 30 minutes and dry it with a towel. If you are unable to remove the ashtray, clean it with a straight solution of vinegar on a microfiber cloth.

  • Once the ashtray is clean, put a brick of charcoal in the ashtray and leave it ajar.

  • Take your spray bottle and place 1/4 cup of vinegar in it. Top it off with warm water. Spray this solution on the windows of the car and wipe the windows with a crumpled up black and white newspaper. The ink in the newspaper works as a mind abrasive, which will help to remove the tar buildup from the windows.

  • Now spray the other hard surfaces of the interior of the car with the same solution of vinegar and water. The vinegar will neutralize the odor left behind by the smoke. Wipe the surface down with a microfiber cloth.

  • Sprinkle the entire soft surface of the car with baking soda and allow the baking soda to sit in the car for an extended period of time, overnight if possible.

  • Vacuum the entire car with a shop vac or other strong vacuum. Spray down the soft surfaces of the car with a carpet cleaner, available at auto parts stores and self-serve car washes. Work the carpet cleaner into the fabric in a circular motion.

  • Take two old socks and fill them with either a charcoal brick or unused coffee grinds. Place these socks under your two front car seats and leave them there for at least two weeks.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you do not have a brick of charcoal, you can sprinkle baking soda in the ashtray.
  • If you do not have charcoal or unused coffee grind, you can place dryer sheets under the car seat.
  • For a quick fix, you can take a bowl of vinegar and leave it in the car overnight. Remove it in the morning and allow the car to air out.
  • If you continue to smoke in your car, the smell will reappear even after a deep cleaning.

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