Cigarette smoke smell

Jim Staples

New member
We have been the proud owners of a 91 Westy for several years, however, this isn't about it. The answer(s) may pertain to any automobile. We bought a Cadillac with only 7k on it at an estate sale. The owner (deceased) had obviously been a smoker and the interior reeks of the stale smoke. They had closed up the car tight and stored it for two years with the ash trays full and several burns in the carpet, etc. Does anyone know of a way to get that smell out of the leather, carpet and fabric headliner? Any answers would be appreciated. Thanks,

Jim Staples

New member
Like and idiot, I just read the previous post. The steam cleaner probably wouldn't work in my case. I asked the local Cadillac dealer who completely detailed the car for me including steam cleaning the carpet, etc. He said that the headliner would warp if I got it wet. They did scrub down the leather and all interior surfaces except the headliner. They ran a strong vacuum over the headliner to try to get the smell out, to no avail.

Capt. Mike

There are a number of odor absorbing products on the market. A common one is charcoal; another is baking soda. There are also many specialty ones in various packaging for "musty basements" and the like. Use in conjunction with the silica gel type dehumidifiers -- getting the moisture out of the vehicle will help dry out materials like foam and upholstery that hold odors better when moist or humid.

You can use a vacuum system -- i.e. sealing the car to the best of your ability and attaching a vacuum or exhaust fan to pull air for a long period, usually several days. This is a common procedure for pillows, bedding & upholstered furniture. I once had such an attachment for a vacuum that let you seal the item in a giant plastic bag and hook to the vacuum. It DID work great on pillows -- my only experiment.

There are a number of electronic air fresheners such as ionizers. Try the health product type catalogs. Just a small fan blowing through a charcoal filter (like used in a Kitchenaid Trash Compactor) would help. Hamilton Beach makes one they are advertising heavily on TV. Heck, put an extension cord strip in the car and start with a couple Renuzit plug ins.

See the post under SUPPLIERS on Hemmings Motor News. I'm sure you will find ads for such products there. Removing odors is a common problem in the antique trade.

There are some chemical products -- I've used one designed for hospital use that was fantastic, though can no longer remember the name -- but I'd go very slow; the cure may be worse than the desease.

[This message has been edited by Capt. Mike (edited 05-01-2001).]


New member
I second that about Febreeze. I washed the upper matress cover in woolite and febreezed it. Smells like a nice spring day. Ok good anyway.


New member
Hi all,

Try looking thru the yellow pages for an autodetailer and ask them about a 'deodorizing fog' or something similar....

We just got an older 3/4 ton truck that stunk from cigarette smoke - the problem is that no matter how much you wash the surfaces the old cigarette smoke deposits have permeated into places you can't reach (behind the dash, the lining of the roof, etc.)

The 'deodorizing fog' (applied by a very loud leaf blower looking machine) uses a descenter fluid that is vapourized into a dense cloud and fills the inside of the vehicle. They leave it for several hours to saturate it's way into all the little nooks and crannies....

It worked wonders....

A Ford 250 extended cab cost $40 Canadian funds - not sure what my westie would run but for those who are trying to get rid of odors I suspect it will be worth it....

From the Rocky Mountains.