How to Clean a Smoke-Damaged Car

by Stephi Peppers

Smoke damage instantly destroys the value of a vehicle. The visible signs and odors left behind indicate a fire, which most potential car buyers will perceive as a major hazard regardless of whether or not the car is now sound. Your best option, whether you choose to sell the vehicle or to continue using it as your own personal vehicle, is to clean the smoke damage away. Start with the basics, then if necessary bring in the big guns.

Rub baking soda into every upholstered surface of the car. You don't have to be rough, just a gentle rub will do. Make sure you are very thorough and lightly coat all upholstered areas. Let this sit for about 30 minutes.

Vacuum the car. Vacuum every surface of the car, removing all the baking soda. Remove the mats and vacuum underneath of them, and don't forget the roof and the area by the rear windshield. Be extremely thorough.

Steam-clean all upholstered surfaces. Make sure you use a steam cleaner with an attachment, so you can be sure to get into all the small areas of the car. Again, be extremely thorough. You may want to repeat this process more than once. Consider using a stain removing agent along with the cleaning solution if you have soot stains from the smoke.

Wipe down all hard surfaces of the vehicle with an appropriate cleaning solution. Soap and water, cleansing wipes and special car cleaning wipes are all readily available at local auto parts stores. Read the labels carefully to make sure you use the right product for the surface.

If the odor of smoke still remains, spray all upholstered surfaces with an odor neutralizing spray. Depending on the level of smoke damage, you may need to apply this more than once, or you may need to coat the surfaces heavily.

Use a commercial fogger or bomb in your vehicle. These types of odor neutralizers are meant for very heavy or persistant damage, and many are made for houses and rooms. If your damage is this severe, a fogger can make a world of difference.

Tip

  • check If your level of smoke damage is very high, you may need the services of a dealership or professional car detailing shop. Call your local businesses and discuss your options.

Items you will need

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.