Hey there! No offense taken. But just to be a little argumentative, I so wish I could do a vehicle for you and show you how effective it is. It really is amazing and unbelievable. Maybe "soap" is a misnomer. Some of the "soap" type chemicals we use are really only available commercially so perhaps solvent is a better name for it. Never would have believed it myself if I hadn't done it personally. I have been in the automotive industry for almost 25 years now. I am a former smoker (I can't believe how well I smell stuff now). My end all, be all, prize job was years ago my granny passed. As the family was sitting around deciding what to do with the estate, what to do with her car came up. My old and wise uncle (little sarcasm there) has a car lot and said her car isn't worth anything cause she was a smoker that smoked for years with the windows up. I mean she was a full on smoker, closed windows, full ashtray, ect. The car was an early 90's olds 88. Silver car with red cloth interior, I remember it well. I had been pressure washing interiors for a couple years at that point and argued with my uncle how effective it was. Anyway, long story short I took the car home, cleaned it my way (oh, the nasty brown, tan, and yellow water that ran out of that car!), and returned it 3 weeks later (took several washings and a really long time to dry that one out) and he actually kept it and it never smelled again and everyone lived happily ever after. I'm not saying it is perfect but I believe it to be the only real way to get the smells out. Masking them just doesn't work. It does have its own problems of course. Most cars now have a ton of computers in the floor, and the car may qualify for a salvage flood title when done but hey, it won't smell!
It really does take a long time though, and can smell even worse if put back together too soon. Nothing like funky wet interior smell and smoke smell together! And, if not done well enough, you have just wasted 2 weeks cleaning and drying a car that the smell will just return as soon as you close it up. I guess all the cleaning methods have their own issues. If we could just outlaw cigs maybe people would stop ruining cars! I think the lesson here, for any one reading this, is follow your nose when buying used and don't ignore that wiff of a funny smell, cause it will prolly just get worse. Can save you a ton of time and effort if you just skip the stinky cars.
Yup X2 on Goat's post. It's everywhere. I too purchased an ashtray '01 TJ. Two years and it still stinks. I pressure washed everything I could day one. Did nothing. I did not try O2 generator. Should have. Dryer sheets is brilliant. I think I'll stick one in the air vent(s) or return air box. That stank lines everything that blows air (A/C-heat) and that really stinks. Even with the top off all summer and driving in Texas heat, etc. it's still smells - especially in winter - especially when the heater's on. It's in every vane of the heater core, A/C evaporator, etc. What a battle. - Rich
I worked at a dealer once, we had a really nice old Mercedes for sale but someone must have smoked in it for decades... I tried everything, baking soda, dryer sheets, an ozone generator, all sorts of professional A/C duct cleaning sprays, multiple carpet shampoos from the detail shop, lots of febreeze... nothing could get it out.
JeepGoat78 is right; the smell has permeated every nook and cranny even the duct work of the heater/AC blower. I know a guy that smoked cigars in his truck and I thought I would almost pass out from the stench that lingered in that thing. There was no way to get that smell out.
Short of tossing out the carpets, replacing the seats and ripping out the A/C/Heater ducts from the dashboard, you can try placing two towels into two separate plastic bowls and fill with white distilled vinegar. If you had the 4 door JK use additional bowls in the back. Place the plastic bowls into the car with the vinegar-soaked towels. One should sit near the ashtray, and the other one on the backseat. The vinegar will absorb the cigarette odors from the car, so that when you remove the bowls, the odor should leave too. If needed, repeat. You can also try sprinkling baking soda and/or carpet deodorizer over the upholstery and carpet respectively, leave for a few hours, and then vacuum it up. UV rays have a way of naturally deodorizing things too so you can try pulling off the top and parking it the sun for a couple days, that won't help get the smell out of the ductwork but it will neutralize the smell on the exposed surfaces.
I had this problem not only with Cigarette smoke but also a Silicone based armor all type of product that must have turned south while sitting the garage for a while. Basically I wiped down all of the interior panels with it and it absolutely smelled putrid. Like vomit mixed with a rotting meat smell. It got into the ducts and was enough to make you sick with the heat or A/C on.
Anyway, I did a good bit of research and had a positive outcome for a very small margin of money.
Some professional detailers use and Ozone or Ionization machines to get rid of the smell. Google it. It will age the interior of your car (pretty quick) and wreaks havoc on wiring, etc. I had an 87 Lincoln that was completely covered in Mold with Cigarette smoke and years of leaky doors and a sunroof. I had a detailer use a High Temp - Professional Steam Cleaner/Shamopooer. Afterwards, I bought a cover and went to Lowes (or you can go to Bed Bath and Beyond and pick them up) and bought a tub that absorbes moisture in the air. Everytime I peak my head into the car I get a wiff of leather and nothing else. Thats one option.
To get rid of the putrid smell I mentioned earlier in my Jeep, I scowered the internet and came up with a solution. Most smokers (I was one) don't really care about having the windows up, ash flying into the car (and getting in between body panels) or clinging onto the surfaces inside your HVAC. I had my smell nipped until I turned on the A/C or Heat.
I completely vacuumed out the car, washed all of the windows with Windex (my windows are tinted and I usually users Stoners - non ammonia) and shampooed every inch of carpet, seats and delicately washed the headliner. I than took a mix of Vinegar and Dish detergent and wiped down all of the surfaces. From there I took my little Bissle cleaner and shampooed eveything one more time. Amazing how nasty the water is especially carpets. Deep cleaning the seats is key not just taking a shaker can of carpet cleaner and scrubbing the surface. With a Wrangler, I doubt you'll have allot of work.
I too also tried the towel in a bowl of Vingear trick. Its great for a musty interior where you're trying to take the edge off and yes it really does absorb, but once the vinegar hint wears off the smell is still there.
For the A/C/Heat - HVAC, I purchased a spray from Autogeek.net that you feed with a tube and it supposedly disinfects down to the evaporator. I followed that up with spraying Lysol into the return outside of the car in front of the windshield. If your Jeep has a Cabin Air Filter - replace it. If you can get to the fins on your evaporator near the blower clean it. Google pictures of what that area of a car looks like without a Cabin Air Filter. Disgusting!!!! Typically a Biomass of dead skin, hair and nastiness.
I bought two really great Car Bomb deodorizers from Auto Geek and let the car sit over night with the windows up. Although that smell isn't permanent, it really does seep into everything including the fabric. I drove the car next day with the windows down and let it air out.
I can safely say that any trace of Cigarette or that putrid dashboard dressing is completely gone. The Wranglers do not have as many interior panels so it might be worth it to pop a few off and vacuum out behind the dash specially around where the ash tray was. You'd be amazed at how easily ash clings to foam pieces behind a dash.
I hope this helps!!! A Professional detailer with a Steam Cleaner, etc. is going to charge more than $200 guranteed and I've seen companies that really are not that meticulous with the work.
The trick is to extract . Most that shampoo carpet and seats just do the surface and push everything further into the fabric . It was mentioned earlier and is what I've done with numerous used vehicles . A spray bottle and a shop vac . I'll say it again . A spray bottle and a shop vac . Formula 409 , Simple Green , Purple Power , chose you're own medicine . Mix 50/50 with water , spray it down and pull it out with the vacuum . I do sections at a time so the solution doesn't soak in too awful deep . For heavy areas make the mixture stronger . Use your own judgment here . Pressure washing doesn't pull things out , it pushes them in deeper . I have brought seats that had coffee , magic marker . soda stains and all sorts of grease in the fabric back to like new using a spray bottle and a shop vac . Saved many carpets too . You may have to repeat the proccess a few times for stubborn stains and maybe use a small brush on some really tough stains but extraction is the only way to really get out what went in . If you have access to a steam cleaner with an apholstery wand , all the better . While it pulls out the stains , it pulls out the stink .
In mid-2009 I was interested in purchasing a 2008 Grand Cherokee from Carmax. The sales agent checked the Jeep and found smoke odor. He asked if I was a smoker; I am not. He then recommended that I not buy the GC because there was no way to eliminate the odor. That's the opinion of one salesman at Carmax. It may be that Carmax simply did not want to go to the trouble of detailing the GC to the extent necessary to remove the smoke odor. I like the solution of using a shopvac and Formula 409, Simple Green, Purple Power, etc. to extract the odor-causing substances -- but will extraction work well on leather seating? Luckily I found an 08 GC Overland with OM642 Mercedes Diesel on cars.com; couldn't be happier with vehicle and engine.
Oh, forgot to mention the cabin air filter. Had one in my 99 GC Limited, so installed one in my 08 GC Overland. The filter elements are inexpensive everywhere except dealerships -- although my local guy will match WWW prices. Here's the rub: the cabin air filter elements eventually load up with contaminants from outside air, so they must be replaced. Frequency depends on personal preference. Do you tolerate a whiff of funky atmosphere -- even though it's filtered? Or do you replace the element? BTW, the original owner of the 08 GW was a dog owner. She had the GC detailed before I bought it. There was no dog odor -- but much dog hair that the detailer missed. Took care of that myself. Now the GC just has my hair (I don't shed much) and my odor (I bathe almost every day).
simple, simple, simple boys. Cut an apple in half, put it in the center and leave it overnight. Top up. vehicle enclosed of course. The apple will absorb the smoke odor may have to do this a second time but the smell will go away. That's right, a wonderful simple little apple will do the trick guys. Good luck all.
This will sound weird but it works very well. Buy some liquid Lysol and some potatoes and a pan or Tupperware that will hold about 3-4 potatoes. Cut the ends of the potatoes and stand them on the cut end so the other cut end is sticking up. Fill the container with Lysol and leave some of the potato exposed to the air. I don't know why, but the potato will act like a filter and totally remove the smokey smell. When you aren't driving, just throw in the container of Lysol and potatoes. I bought a used car like that and some old timer told me that trick and I've used it and recommended it ever since. Worked like a charm. Also use Ozium spray for a quicker remedy on top of the potatoes. Like I said, sounds crazy, but it works.
it usually gets into the vents>> carpets seats ,, the ozone generator rental may take two or three times,, make sure the ac/heater is runniing,, aka blower so it cleans the venting duct work>
my toyota still has a slight smell at odd times> but i have treated it again again,