Getting smell out of car?

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NYCaviator
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Getting smell out of car?

Post by NYCaviator »

I have a newer car that smells faintly of stale cigarettes. My spouse stepped on a cigarette butt and it got knocked under the passenger seat. We smelled it on the way home from dinner, but it took me a week to finally figure out where the smell was coming from. I've tried spraying Febreeze (which never seems to go away... so never doing that again), I scrubbed the rubber floor mats, and I've left the windows down. The smell still seems to stick around after several weeks, especially if I park in the sun, although it's faint now.

Is there anything I can do to get rid of it? It went from a nice new car smell to being kind of stale.
jpelder
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by jpelder »

I've heard that an ozone generator can get those kinds of stubborn smells out. Just air out the car after it's done: ozone is awful for your lungs
ROIGuy
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by ROIGuy »

Try putting a little baking soda on it and then vacuum it up
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NYCaviator
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by NYCaviator »

ROIGuy wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 7:38 am Try putting a little baking soda on it and then vacuum it up
Thanks! I'll try this. I think the cigarette butt may have still been burning or was fresh because the smell really filled the car as we drove home. I did try using a carpet cleaner with the little attachment so I'll see if that works too.
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mrmass
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by mrmass »

Also try some coffee beans or grounds.
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life in slices
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by life in slices »

I have used these with great success in getting odors out of cars
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07KQXLVKZ/
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lthenderson
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by lthenderson »

NYCaviator wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 7:33 am Is there anything I can do to get rid of it? It went from a nice new car smell to being kind of stale.
I'm guessing a cigarette smell in a car is much like what happens when it is in a home. The smoke particles cling to every surface which causes the smell you are still smelling after you cleaned the spot where the cigarette lay. I would get some wipes and go over all the dash and other plastic and leather components in your car that are typically dusted when cleaning. I'm guessing that will get the remaining smell.

FWIW - I recently has a fuel pump replace in my vehicle and when it got back from the shop, it reeked of gas inside. After a week of unsuccessfully trying to air it out and spray things like Febreze, I took my own advice above and gave all the plastic and leather surfaces a wiping and it smell like normal again the next day.
MindBogler
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by MindBogler »

Throw some dryer sheets in there.
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by Sandtrap »

NYCaviator wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 7:33 am I have a newer car that smells faintly of stale cigarettes. My spouse stepped on a cigarette butt and it got knocked under the passenger seat. We smelled it on the way home from dinner, but it took me a week to finally figure out where the smell was coming from. I've tried spraying Febreeze (which never seems to go away... so never doing that again), I scrubbed the rubber floor mats, and I've left the windows down. The smell still seems to stick around after several weeks, especially if I park in the sun, although it's faint now.

Is there anything I can do to get rid of it? It went from a nice new car smell to being kind of stale.
The modern quandary is replacing one stinky smell with another cleaning or spray or scent stinky smell. Very few products of any kind are scent and fragrance free despite advertising. There's even the "smell of clean". Covering up the stink of tobacco smoke with more scents from other products is not the answer.

I have chemical and fragrance/scent allergies, including laundry soaps, dryer sheets, and people perfumes/colognes/etc.

Weve tried everything to keeo our home and cars (all fairly new) hypoallergenic.
This worked to keep a zero cat smell away, also other scents.
amazon.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004A ... UTF8&psc=1

this also works but use sparringly and air out. Do a test first on something else outside on the porch.
amazon.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00TO ... =UTF8&th=1
also
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00VW ... =UTF8&th=1

tips:
If you take your car to a professional detailing shop, it will smell like cleaning chemicals and scented chemicals forever.
Tried everything to get this stink out of my like new toyota tundra. All failed. Phew!!!

Be sure to replace the car air conditioning vent system carbon filter with a new one. Glove box panel?

If the floor mat was where the cigarette was lst, consider new floor mats new seat covers, etc.

If someone has "Axe" and other "body and clothing spray cologne products" and sits in your car for awhile, you won't smell the cigarette smell anymore.
The seat and seat cover will make it permanent. (humor).

There is a large variety of "ozone odor eliminator" machine for sale on Amazon. We have tried many of them. They range from ineffective to highly toxic (in seconds) to introducing a permanent funky smell of their own. Some people have great results. Others, well, not so. So, caution. You can't undo it.

j :D
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GeMoney
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by GeMoney »

A family member used to be an auto detailer and he used to recommend sliced apples for a day or two in a vehicle for odor removal.
tesuzuki2002
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by tesuzuki2002 »

I use this generally about 4 times a year... I let it sit in the vehicle and fumigate for 24-48 hours when I know it will be parked.

https://www.amazon.com/Ozium-Oz-Sanitiz ... 086T517RH/
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Beensabu
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by Beensabu »

Try tossing an activated charcoal bag in there. You can order them online, and they are cheap. You do have to leave the bag in the sun for a couple hours first before you stick it wherever. It's reusable and lasts 2 years - just leave it in the sun for a couple hours every couple months.

It absorbs the odor rather than attempting to cover it up.
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leemonster
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by leemonster »

I used a bag of pet grade cedar shavings (from the local Agway) to get rid of skunk smell under my garage steps. Spread it around the area as best as I could. The smell also permeated into my car so I put chips in a large container and into the car. The shavings smell nice too!
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kevinf
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by kevinf »

Yikes! So many home remedies here 😆

Regarding Febreeze, check out a hardware store or Amazon for the unscented commercial bottles... it really does work. Secondly, use a steam cleaner and go over every surface (fabric and hard) that won't be damaged by condensing water (i.e. don't use it on your radio controls). Replacing your air cabin filter with a new activated carbon on is a good suggestion.

We use the above procedure to get smells out of our ambulances.
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Steelersfan
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by Steelersfan »

I used an ozone generator with the windows closed for a couple of hours with success.
Then leaving the car windows all the way down for a few weeks while in the garage.
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lthenderson
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by lthenderson »

Odor consists of organic compounds that attach themselves to the surfaces of your vehicle. I'm surprise that so many mention remedies focusing on using chemicals to disguise them or devices to remove those that are floating in the air both of which ignore the ones adhered to your surfaces which will remain until the decay or they are physically removed by the act of cleaning the surface.
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by bradinsky »

Steelersfan wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 1:19 pm I used an ozone generator with the windows closed for a couple of hours with success.
Then leaving the car windows all the way down for a few weeks while in the garage.
+1
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by margered »

Charcoal briquettes.
balofagus
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by balofagus »

Chlorine dioxide
valleyrock
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by valleyrock »

balofagus wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 9:51 pm Chlorine dioxide
I researched it and purchased a chlorine dioxide kit to use on a used car I bought recently. Haven't tried it yet. It's supposedly something detailers use for difficult odors. It ought not leave a residual odor after the car is aired out per instructions. But I like the idea of an ozone generator...same principle. Need to run the fan to get the oxidant in the system.
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by balofagus »

valleyrock wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 9:57 pm
balofagus wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 9:51 pm Chlorine dioxide
I researched it and purchased a chlorine dioxide kit to use on a used car I bought recently. Haven't tried it yet. It's supposedly something detailers use for difficult odors. It ought not leave a residual odor after the car is aired out per instructions. But I like the idea of an ozone generator...same principle. Need to run the fan to get the oxidant in the system.
I use it widely: odor remediation aboard my boat and in the car, as a laundry sanitizer additive, as a produce wash, for water tank sanitation and primary water treatment aboard the boat and along with a towel as replacement for disposable wipes as examples. Last time I worked out unit prices Safrax offered the best deal.

I’ve even read that it could be useful as a mouthwash, but will confidently posit that the so-called “miracle mineral supplement” use case is quackery.
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by whodidntante »

Buy an authentic ozone generator. Take appropriate precautions in using it.

If that doesn't work, thoroughly clean all surfaces including the upholstery and all of the carpet. This will require removing the seats. Then repeat the ozone treatment.
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by JakeyLee »

GeMoney wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 11:48 am A family member used to be an auto detailer and he used to recommend sliced apples for a day or two in a vehicle for odor removal.
Sounds crazy. But not only does this work, but it’s been around for decades. Sliced apples for the win.
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by Sprucebark »

I went through a forest fire. The smoke was really thick and the fire was right along the highway. You could feel the heat inside the car. I’m surprised it didn’t melt the paint. The car stunk bad- you got out and smelled like a campfire. I left the windows down on a really windy day and it pretty much took care of it.
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by YeahBuddy »

I'd personally clean the area where the cigarette butt was really well. Don't just cover it up with another smell or thing. Scrub, vacuum, use the best carpet cleaners, change cabin air filters just in case, and let the car sit with windows open for several hours. Roll windows back up and if smell persists, do it again or hire the best local car detailing company. Around here car detailing is about $200 or $100 - $150 if you know a guy. Once the smell is gone then you can use an air freshener if you choose.
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Samd007
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by Samd007 »

Ozone generator.
I had a cooler of shrimp that leaked in the back seat of my car. Put the generator in the car (outside) and start the car and generator with the AC on. Once it cycles, open doors and windows of car (hold breath). Let it air out. If it needs, repeat the process. I’ve loaned my device to others many times. You can find them on Amazon, good luck!
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lthenderson
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by lthenderson »

I would suggest you read the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fact sheet on ozone generators sold as air cleaners before investing in one and sticking it in your car.

https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality- ... r-cleaners

Especially this statement: "Available scientific evidence shows that at concentrations that do not exceed public health standards, ozone has little potential to remove indoor air contaminants."
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winterfan
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by winterfan »

Leave a small cup of white vinegar in the cup holder overnight. That should take care of the odor.
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by mrc »

lthenderson wrote: Thu May 16, 2024 8:50 am Especially this statement: "Available scientific evidence shows that at concentrations that do not exceed public health standards, ozone has little potential to remove indoor air contaminants."
I think the point of removing car stink is to exceed a public health concentration inside the vehicle. The EPA article is addressing ozone generators as indoor air cleaners.

My questions are 1) how high a concentration and for how long actually destroys odor-causing molecules, and 2) how high is the concentration if you stick a machine in a car, the volume is pretty low.
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by lthenderson »

mrc wrote: Thu May 16, 2024 9:26 am My questions are 1) how high a concentration and for how long actually destroys odor-causing molecules,...
According to the linked article, months to years. I have searched for the actual Boeniger article to see if it says how high of concentrations were tested but it is behind a paywall.
First, a review of scientific research shows that, for many of the chemicals commonly found in indoor environments, the reaction process with ozone may take months or years (Boeniger, 1995).
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by Tundrama »

…ok, I’ll be banned.

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valleyrock
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by valleyrock »

lthenderson wrote: Thu May 16, 2024 8:50 am I would suggest you read the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fact sheet on ozone generators sold as air cleaners before investing in one and sticking it in your car.

https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality- ... r-cleaners

Especially this statement: "Available scientific evidence shows that at concentrations that do not exceed public health standards, ozone has little potential to remove indoor air contaminants."
So, ramp up the concentration in the car to a level way above public health standards. Get it as high as it will go. Keep in on for a while. How long and at what level will depend on many factors, including the source of the odor, how far into the interstices (there's a $2 word) of the car the odor has permeated, etc. I'd say do it for an hour or two (with the fan on high, of course, and set to recirculate), stop the generator, air it all out, and drive it for a couple of day and see. If that doesn't do it, repeat for 3 or 4 hours, etc. Just don't be in the car and air it out well when done, before getting in the car. I'm sure it's the same thing with the chlorine dioxide kit I bought in terms of being above a level of health concern if you were to be exposed for a certain length of time (depends on time and concentration, etc.).
jaMichael
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by jaMichael »

OK, I’m giving the sliced apple thing a whirl. My 2006 Toyota has a musty, not moldy, smell that I assume stems from the fact that I’ve had a lot of water leaks over the last few years thanks to the sunroof drains getting clogged up several times. My only question is, do the apples attract rodents or ants? Will I regret this? Maybe don’t leave the apple slices in there overnight?
nalor511
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by nalor511 »

jaMichael wrote: Thu May 16, 2024 12:37 pm OK, I’m giving the sliced apple thing a whirl. My 2006 Toyota has a musty, not moldy, smell that I assume stems from the fact that I’ve had a lot of water leaks over the last few years thanks to the sunroof drains getting clogged up several times. My only question is, do the apples attract rodents or ants? Will I regret this? Maybe don’t leave the apple slices in there overnight?
To me, musty=old mold. Unless the smell can be targetted, you may still have spores somewhere. I would probably personally drop a mold bomb if you haven't already. https://biocidelabs.com/mold-bomb-fogger/

If the smell can be targetted, you may still have moisture in the air vents, or behind the dash, which can often be cleared out by either changing the cabin air filter (this is easy) or by running the heater on High for 10 minutes

I also once found dead/wet/rotten leaves that had been sucked into the air intake above the hood, and were sitting/rotting just on top of the cabin air filter. That was gross, so another reason to inspect that. It's usually just behind the glove box.
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by jaMichael »

nalor511 wrote: Thu May 16, 2024 12:50 pm
jaMichael wrote: Thu May 16, 2024 12:37 pm OK, I’m giving the sliced apple thing a whirl. My 2006 Toyota has a musty, not moldy, smell that I assume stems from the fact that I’ve had a lot of water leaks over the last few years thanks to the sunroof drains getting clogged up several times. My only question is, do the apples attract rodents or ants? Will I regret this? Maybe don’t leave the apple slices in there overnight?
To me, musty=old mold. Unless the smell can be targetted, you may still have spores somewhere. I would probably personally drop a mold bomb if you haven't already. https://biocidelabs.com/mold-bomb-fogger/

If the smell can be targetted, you may still have moisture in the air vents, or behind the dash, which can often be cleared out by either changing the cabin air filter (this is easy) or by running the heater on High for 10 minutes

I also once found dead/wet/rotten leaves that had been sucked into the air intake above the hood, and were sitting/rotting just on top of the cabin air filter. That was gross, so another reason to inspect that. It's usually just behind the glove box.
Thank you. I will look into this.
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ResearchMed
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by ResearchMed »

nalor511 wrote: Thu May 16, 2024 12:50 pm I also once found dead/wet/rotten leaves that had been sucked into the air intake above the hood, and were sitting/rotting just on top of the cabin air filter. That was gross, so another reason to inspect that. It's usually just behind the glove box.

I'm not sure if this is what you mean, but we had a "smell" problem that just wouldn't go away.

It turned out that there were rotten (or whatever!?) leaves that were stuck down where the windshield wipers are attached.

In the "good old days", all of that was on the exterior of the car, which is what we geezers are used to, even though it's obvious that there is "a place at the bottom of the windshield where the base of the wipers, and sometimes the entire wipers, disappear into", etc. :wink:

Once the source was identified, it was simple to have it all cleaned out and just generally cleaned or almost sanitized.

NOTE: If you have a car "detailed" or even regular cleaning along with some regular services, be *very* clear that you do NOT want ANY fragrance or scent added. It helps to specify, "NO new car scent added!". That "new car", er, fragrance is often not viewed as adding fragrance, but instead, "just making the car nice and new again". :annoyed
Obviously, it's just some combination of chemicals... and it can take a long time for them to dissipate.

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billaster
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by billaster »

Ozone attacks and degrades rubber and nitrile seals and O-rings. Lots of rubber stuff in the cabin including door and window seals, seats and ventilation ducts, etc. I wouldn't use an ozone generator.
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by Tuxedo »

Are you sure no one smoked in your car?
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B88
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by B88 »

The vinegar suggestion is a good one. A cup in the cup holder. The reason this works is the molecules making up vinegar bond chemically with the volatile compounds which trigger our smell. So just sitting there, it will over a few hours bond and remove the smell you are detecting. Might have to change out the cup of vinegar a time or two, but it will work. Also obviously cleaning where the butt was needs doing. Probably with baking soda. After that spraying some diluted vinegar on that spot under the seat is probably a good idea too.
MindBogler
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by MindBogler »

The suggestion to put dryer sheets in the car wasn't a joke. Get unscented ones, because it's not about covering up smells with the dryer sheet. They are fantastic deodorizers. Used car dealers do this.
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by itaos »

Leaving vinegar in a cup overnight should help. It took about a week of doing it to eliminate the smell of food accidently left to rot in an old car.
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just frank
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by just frank »

I'd park it in the sun with a couple windows just cracked. So it still gets hot, baking out the odor, but the smell can escape through the windows, rather than readsorbing on the upholstery.
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NYCaviator
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by NYCaviator »

Tuxedo wrote: Thu May 16, 2024 5:52 pm Are you sure no one smoked in your car?
:D I'm sure. It's a brand new car and I''m the only one that drives it. When we left for dinner it smelled like a new car, but on the way home it started smelling like a cigarette. A week later I found the cigarette butt under the seat and when I removed it the smell got a lot less pungent.

Thanks for all of the suggestions! I am going to make an appointment to get the cabin air filters changed, wipe all the surfaces down inside, and try the dryer sheet and vinegar trick.

I'm a little hesitant to try the ozone generator. I know how dangerous that is to breathe in so I'd rather do that as a last resort.
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by andypanda »

Whatever you use - charcoal, dryer sheets, apples, baking soda, or my favorite Ozium - park it in the sun with the engine running, the windows up, and the AC set on recirculate for a few hours.
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by KneePartsPro »

Sandtrap wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 9:24 am
NYCaviator wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 7:33 am I have a newer car that smells faintly of stale cigarettes. My spouse stepped on a cigarette butt and it got knocked under the passenger seat. We smelled it on the way home from dinner, but it took me a week to finally figure out where the smell was coming from. I've tried spraying Febreeze (which never seems to go away... so never doing that again), I scrubbed the rubber floor mats, and I've left the windows down. The smell still seems to stick around after several weeks, especially if I park in the sun, although it's faint now.

Is there anything I can do to get rid of it? It went from a nice new car smell to being kind of stale.
The modern quandary is replacing one stinky smell with another..
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Re: Getting smell out of car?

Post by NoblesvilleIN »

I had an issue with a mouse nest in my cabin air filter and the associated mess in the cabin (chewed tissues, etc). After cleaning out the car and changing the cabin air filter, it still had a rodent smell. Local autoparts store recommended a Mother's product: Product No: 06811 Odor Eliminator & Refresher - New Car Scent. This is a fogger. It is supposed to encapsulate the odor (not sure how that would work, but it did). I followed the directions on the product and it completely removed the odor. I'm guessing that it could work for your smoke odor, but you might research this further. A quick Google search shows that is is about $8.00. You have the car running with the A/C on and trigger the fogger and stay out of the car. Leave it running for a period of time (10 or 15 minutes, I think). There were additional instructions, but I don't remember them, easy to follow, though.
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