A man cleaning the interior of his car.

How to get rid of cigarette smell

Follow these tips to help lessen the potent smell in your car or home.

Your nose knows when a home or vehicle's been smoked in, long after the last cigarette has been put out. Try these tips to help get rid of cigarette smell in your car or home.


The first step in the journey to getting rid of cigarette smell is to ventilate as much as possible in order to remove any lingering surface or airborne odor. In your car, open all the doors and leave them open while you clean and for as long as possible afterward. In your home, open all the windows and keep them open as long as possible. Turn on ceiling fans and place portable fans in windows, facing out. Make sure your air purifier is running, if you have one. 


There are several products that may be useful for removing smoke smell from your home or vehicle. Placing small bowls of any of the following products may help absorb/neutralize cigarette smell over the course of a few days, and most are fairly affordable:

  • White vinegar,
  • Kitty litter,
  • Baking soda, or
  • Activated charcoal.


Thoroughly vacuum every surface. Use the brush attachment on hard surfaces such as vents, wood floors and the dashboard. Do double duty on soft surfaces; to freshen rugs and upholstery you can sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda, let it set for two hours or overnight and then thoroughly vacuum.

Wipe it down

A good scrubbing of all hard surfaces helps further remove stubborn smoke residue. Use a surface-appropriate cleaner and be thorough — think vinyl, leather and the steering wheel in your vehicle. In your home, pay attention to windows, walls, blinds, furniture, cabinet tops and interiors. If the odor is bad enough or has caused stains on your walls you may need to paint. You can use an odor-blocking primer before painting to help prevent smells and stains from coming through the new paintCarefully clean light fixtures and replace bulbs, too as their heat can disperse the smell throughout the room.

Wash all removables

Pull out what you can, from floor mats and seat covers in your vehicle to draperies and pillows in your home. Follow manufacturers' recommendations to launder, dry clean or wash and scrub. Dry thoroughly before replacing.

Steam clean

To deep clean fixed, breathable materials, such as carpet or upholstery, bring on the steam. First, sprinkle with baking soda, let it sit for at least two hours, then vacuum and follow with a mist of water and white vinegar in a ratio of 2:1. If that isn't enough to remove the odor, invest in a cleaner, rent one from your local home store or consider hiring a professional specializing in cigarette smoke removal.

Change the air filter

Many vehicles made in the last 20 years or so have air filters. Check your vehicle's owner's manual to find out where yours is located and how to replace it. At home, consider installing a high-quality, odor-reducing HVAC filter.

Clean ducts and vents

When cleaning your vehicle, wipe vents and invest in a long, skinny vent brush and use it while the fan is on. Next, set the AC to "fresh air" (not recirculate) and turn it on high. Spray an odor neutralizer into your intake vent, likely near the windshield wipers.

In your home, vacuum vents and wipe clean. Removing vent covers can help you thoroughly clean behind and on both sides of them. And if needed, consider hiring a duct-cleaning professional.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.

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