How to get rid of smoke from vehicle

Hi Folks,
I recently picked up a lightly used 2008 gmc envoy. Its in great shape mechanically
but the previous owner was a heavy smoker.
Does anyone have any tips and tricks to get rid of the smell?
I've vacumed, supercleaned ( head liner, carpet etc ) and have even steamed cleaned it...
The smell is still there... My next step is to use an ozone generator..
Any other suggestions?


Well-Known Member
I had a '99 Silverado with essentially the same problem. In the end I removed the upholstery altogether and put it all through the washer and dryer. Granted, it was a work truck so the interior was fairly rugged and this approach would never work with leather. I also shampooed the carpets while I had the upholstery out since I removed the seats.

An approach that might work is to use "Odo-Ban". It's amazing stuff and it's available at Home Depot and a lot of other box stores. The one I prefer is a cucumber melon smell. If I remember correctly I applied Odo-Ban to the cushions and let it dry thoroughly. Even with all that, when it was extremely hot and humid you could still pick up "something" that vaguely resembled cigarette smoke.


Well-Known Member
Rent an Ozone machine. Mine had heavy smoker smell and then dead rat smell on top of that. Ran the Ozone machine 3 times in about a 5 day period and it had a pretty close to brand new smell after the 3rd time...


Well-Known Member
After doing interior cleaning on cars for a few years;
  • Ozone machine absolutely worth it.
  • Scrub and clean every exposed piece of plastic in the interior. (give the windows a good cleaning too, Sprayway Glass Cleaner, or Invisible Glass)
  • A good interior cleaner. On the super cheap/homemade side, a 50/50 mix of water and white vinegar. However, if its as bad as you say it is, then I would use something stronger like Simple Green All Purpose Cleaner (can be bought at Walmart, Home Depot and most retail/hardware stores. Its not too badly priced. Its safe on plastic, and works fantastic as a carpet cleaner. (see later on).
  • Pull your dashboard vents off, and try and clean the air ducts. It may not seem like it'll help, but that stuff is/will be trapped in the ducts and air intake. If you manage to get most of what you can wiped out the better it is.
  • While you're wiping down the interior, leave the windows open with the A/C cranked to high and don't have the air re-circulation going.
  • Buy an odor neutralizer, like Ozium. While the A/C is going, spray it into the air intake (the vents below the wiper blades). How much you spray is up to you, be warned its pretty strong smelling. Generally, when we use it we spray it until the smoke smell from the air vents starts to get weaker, or if we begin to smell the actual ozium coming through.
  • Like the previous step, you do the same exact thing, but with the heater on at full blast with the windows open and repeat spraying into the air intake.
  • Grab your Simple Green cleaner, and use it to clean the carpets/headliner (it works amazing on carpets, from my experience its better then regular carpet cleaner for odor killing). The carpet, while it may seem excessive will most likely need a deep cleaning, or at least 2 more passes to fully get it out (if you have leather seats, don't forget to give the cloth sides where the seat belt retainers are a good soak and clean as well, same goes for the back seats).
That's typically what we do, and it gets a good majority of it out. Home remedies I've used, and found to work well was pure white vinegar in a cup/bowl and let it sit overnight in the truck. A bowl filled with charcoal is another that is surprisingly good, its slower, but if you let it sit for a few days it does kill the smell, and the same goes for coffee grounds.

If you want to try something a little easier, an odor bomb would work. It usually comes in an aerosol can and typically it has you running the A/C (as listed above) while its running and it seems to do a fairly decent job. Something like this would be perfect, but personally I prefer the more "thorough" method just because I like to get things as clean as they can be.


Well-Known Member
I agree with Mike, you will likely still have remnants in the HVAC system, I would start with the evap coil. I don't know if you have a cabin filter or filter access, but there's enough room to get a coil cleaner spray in there and just keep at it, curious to how it looks. Those small fins are likely a nice shade of tan.


Well-Known Member
"Rent an Ozone machine. Mine had heavy smoker smell and then dead rat smell on top of that. Ran the Ozone machine 3 times in about a 5 day period and it had a pretty close to brand new smell after the 3rd time..."

As for me I don't have any experience in using an ozone machine, but I have had a dead rat inside a wall of my house many years ago. It left the type of odor you don't wish on anyone. The odor was unbearable. And if the Ozone machine can get most or all of that smell gone it would be the way to go.
just my little 2¢


Active Member
If you have any lingering odors after doing the ozone treatment(s), you might want to try spraying some GM Odor Eliminator on all the surfaces. Stuff works well for mildew odors. You can purchase it from a GM dealer or from


I know this is an old thread, but for the uninformed, an ozone generator is an electronic device, about the size of a shoebox. Plug it in and set the timer for a couple of hours. I got mine at Home Depot for just over $100. It will also remove pet odors from the home, leaving everything fresh and clean smelling. Use it, then put it on Craigslist to get most of your money back


I didn't even know these were available at the retail level. Thanks!


Lifetime VIP Supporter
As I read through / caught up on this thread, I thought... "wonder if you can rent them?"
Thankfully, I've never had to deal with getting permeating odors out of a car. Ugh.


Silver Supporter
I tried renting one, went on the web and called a place near me. Even though they advertised it, didn't have it.
There were a few more places that made you fill out a form (what dates you need it, how long, etc.), never heard back. Wound up buying one, grand kids lost it before it ever came out of the box.
Gave up.




New Member
Back in 2005 I restored a 70's Corvette that had 30 years living with a heavy smoker. I ripped out the entire interior. Like others mentioned, you need to clean the ducts. But I took the dash apart and found everything behind was covered in sticky tar. Wires. Gauges. Steering column. Really hard to get that new car smell with that still lingering in an area you can't get to.


Hi folks,
I did use an ozone eliminator, many many times.
It worked for awhile then the smell came back.
What I ended up doing was ripping out all the Envoy seats, armrests ( front and back )
scrubbing the entire carpet and headline with cleaners then re-assembling it.
I left vanilla extract in small dishes in the car over the winter - where I parked it for 5 months.

Then with parts from a a donner car - a Buick rainier. I re-install the seats, ( back and front ) and side pads/arm rests from the Non-smoker buick rainier.
That took out most of the smell.. but on a really hot day - you still get a bit of smell from the air vents... which I have tried to clean - but no such luck.
It's much much better .. but I just can't get ALL the smell out.
I think I did all I could - unless someone can give me a few tricks on cleaning air vents ...


Well-Known Member
I bought a used toyota a couple of years ago, that was owned by a smoker. This thing had a "cabin filter" as part of the AC system. Put in a new charcoal filter which helped. I also kept a bottle of febreze in the car, and used it every time I turned on the vehicle and drove. (sprayed it down on floor mat) Surprisingly, this cleared it right up over some months. (I also use a clip on vent deodorizer as well, but that's standard for all my vehicles)


Lifetime VIP Supporter
It was late in 2002 when I bought the First Model of my Trailblazer... I needed to get an SUV right away and got a very good deal on it, However, I suspected that the biggest factor was the presence of Cigar Smoke (Ugh...) it was Dreadful! So I got some bags of odor absorbent stuff that looked like White Rocks inside nylon mesh bags from Home Depot and placed them all along the rear floor board,

Those "Rocks" right along with other Bags of Activated Charcoal really did the trick. Check out this deal on Amazon. If it were me, I'd get these and lay out ALL of them under the Dashboard and under the Seats and on the floorboards, swapping them out over time until the major smells get absorbed and tossed out with each replacement set. Look at the number of sales and the high levels of acceptance on this product. There is Nothing Better than an inexpensive "Passive-Aggresive" Solution to a Problem that "Stinks":

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