How to Rid a Car of that Stinky Smell of Smoke

As you know, I travel quite a bit, which means I have the need to rent cars. Most of the time that goes well, and by “well” I mean I land a fantastic daily rate and I get to test drive a nice new car. Other times? Not so well, and now I’m talking about the stench of stale, cigarette smoke made even worse by trying to cover it up with an equally stinky floral spray.




I was reminded of my last bout with car odor when I heard from EC reader Neil, who inquires, “Will Nok-Out work on removing smoke odor from a vehicle?” The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” and one I wish I could also offer to every car rental agency. In fact, I know of no other way to truly eliminate that odor—not cover it up with another odor—than Nok-Out.

Let’s do a quick review for what makes Nok-Out so amazing: It’s hypoallergenic, non-toxic, non-staining and non-masking which means it leaves behind only a fresh, clean smell. I can’t guarantee Neil can achieve that “new-car” smell, but I promise that if he follows the following procedures carefully, that car will be free of the lingering smell of cigarettes.


To remove tobacco smoke and musty mildew odors from vehicles, spray upholstery, and headliners with Nok-Out (Get 10% off your order with coupon code DPL.) Spray carefully in all seams in the upholstery, in the ashtrays, around the cup holders, floorboards, dashboard, in other words, the entire interior of your vehicle. It isn’t necessary to saturate, but spray for good coverage, leaving no unsprayed spaces. You may scrub briskly on more soiled or polluted sites.

Best Coverage

To get achieve full and complete coverage, consider using a small hand-held sprayer, like the Fogmaster Jr. This sprayer will provide exactly the coverage you need to penetrate into all parts of your vehicle, and is what many automobile agencies use to remediate odors and stains. A home vaporizer will also create a good quality fog. Use Nok-Out full strength or up to 50/50 with water.

Ventilation System

With the engine running, spray Nok-Out into the ventilation system (you will find this at the exterior base of the windshield). Turn the air circulation on high with all windows closed, run for a full five minutes. Open windows, continue running the air circulation system, and run for another five minutes. For severe tobacco, musty mildew odors, odors of spilled milk or any chemical odor, a second application may be required. Should foul odors return in a day or two, reapply following these directions.


Nok-Out does not harm leather or synthetic leather materials. These tightly woven skins and other types of upholstery may require two, three or more applications to penetrate into the cushions of your vehicle. But you need to do this. Nok-Out must come in contact with the source of the odor and that could be inside the seats and other upholstered areas.

Prior attempts

If you have tried other odor removers—like vinegar!—they need to be neutralized first before proceeding with Nok-Out. Do this with a mild baking soda solution of 1/2 cup baking soda to one gallon of water.


Trunks also hold odors from the interior, the exhaust, and from any malodorous contents, they might have held. Spray liberally with Nok-Out on the total interior of the trunk space. Pay particular attention to all seams and crevices. Remove any storage bins, and spray inside as well.

If you have a stink problem other than in a car, you can translate these same procedures to de-stink antique furniture and areas in or around a home. The most important thing to remember: Nok-Out must come in direct contact with the offending odor—even if that odor has soaked its way through the carpet, into the pad and onto the surface below. If the odor could make its way through all those layers, so can Nok-Out! If you’d like to order NokOut over the phone, they can be reached at 1-866-551-1927 – tell them Mary sent you!

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3 replies
  1. Markie
    Markie says:

    I have a cowhide rug that has a really bad chemical smell on the hide side. Apparently something wasn’t done in the tanning process. I tried everything and finally ordered Nok-Out. I first used the baking soda solution to neurtalize and after two applications of Nok-Out it still stinks just the same.

  2. Riva
    Riva says:

    I’ve never had to remove smoke odor from my car, but I did have two kids who vomited all over my car recently. I was hours from home and by the time I got home and dealt with the kids, I wasotoo tired to deal with the car. It was really warm outside and by the time I dealt with it, the smell was too horrible to contemplate. I used a much cheaper solution. A mesh/burlap bag filled with whole coffee beans! The whole thing was a couple of dollars. I just stuck it under one of the seats and within a couple of hours, the smell was completely gone! It works as a terrific odor absorber. Best thing ever! Heard this idea from someone who had an odor in her car of a rotten dead animal (she never did figure out from what/where) and she tried EVERYTHING without success until she tried this and it within a couple of hours smell was completely gone!


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