Cig smoke smell fix

picked up an equinox with lousy cig smoke smell. would a different headliner from a junkyard suv help with the smell issues? how do you fix smoke smell? i heard it is hard to properly clean a headliner as it is fabric glued to a pressboard base

We once bought a nice low mileage car from a smoker. We parked the car in the garage and lowered all windows,. My wife put several of those sheets of softener that you put in a clothes dryer under the seats. It took 3 months to completely get rid of the smell but the cost was modest.

Try to saturate the cabin with fabrezze and let it sit, will take many tries to deal with it

Dealers use ozone generator machine to accelerate tobacco film oxidation - it makes it better, but results are not pretty anyways.

I had an experience of getting a car which was ozon-ized like that and smell returned after a week or so.

What helped me at a time:

  • getting 4-5 cans of foam upholstery cleaner
  • getting a big roll of good quality paper towels
  • spray on headliner, then use towels to carefully pull the cleaner out, rubbing has a good chance to ruin the headliner
  • do the same, but with more vigor on all upholstery, including the carpets
  • wash all surfaces with mild cleaner
  • let car sit in full sun to dry for a day with lowered windows

The next step was of “snake oil” kind. I happen to have an electrostatic air purifier, which produces some ozone as it works - I was leaving it working in a car overnight, then vented it in the morning. After doing so for a week, the last traces of smell were gone.

Everything took almost 2 weeks from the moment we bought that car.

Use the odor eliminator from this company because it really works.

I have tackled this exact issue with my current Mustang. The results depend on how far you are willing to go!

I removed the seats and steam cleaned the carpet and seats. Used vinyl cleaner on all such surfaces around the car. Febreezed the interior a number of times. Poured anti-bacterial cleaner into the air intakes at the windshield base and let it dry overnight and rinsed in the morning. Removed the HVAC filter and sprayed Ozium into the HVAC intake while the blower was running and the windows open. Installed a new filter. This got the car acceptable with only a trace of smell left. That dissipated to zero after 6 months or so.

You can clean the headliner with a spray upholstery cleaner. Replacing it is likely not an option. Why? Because most cars with 1 piece headliners need the windshield or rear window out of the car to remove and replace it.

Replacing the headliner greatly reduced the smoke odor in 2 of my old trucks and also an old Cadillac. All had deteriorating headliners and reeked of smoke.

Yes, that’s a terrible PIA to remove headliner from a sedan, but usually possible if you lower both frontal seat backs and have a helper. Usually it goes out of back door. YouTube is a good reference source for how other people were able to accomplish it for particular make/model/year.

i think the headliner might slide out the rear when the hatch is open. i might keep this vehicle and sell the one i got last year. it also does not have a sunroof which may make it easier to yank out as there is less trim

There is an air sanitizer and odor neutralizer called Ozium that I recommend. Saturate everything with it, and let the car sit with the windows closed for a couple days. Then air it out and see if it’s any better.

The headliner will likely come out the rear on that vehicle. I recall removing headliners and sunroofs through the rear of several sedans after removing the rear seatback. It can be a pain though.

That is the stuff that has been used in mortuaries for decades, and it is very effective.

Powerful stuff. When I worked at an airport in the sixties we sold Ozium spray in the airport office/waiting area.

Since we rented small planes and used some of them for flight instruction we sometimes had passengers with let’s just say severe immediate indigestion problems.

After a quick clean-up by the pilot or flight instructor, the planes were treated with a few short spritzes of Ozium and were good to go, again.

I’ve purchased smoked in vehicles (and I’m not, nor have ever been, a smoker) and never removed any headliners. A couple spritzes (doesn’t take much!) of Ozium, occasionally for a while, really helped. It can be directed at the headliner and upholstery, too.

I’ve also, wiped down all washable surfaces with cleaners and water, using a sponge.

Vehicle sitting overnight with windows closed, I’ve used a shallow bowl of fresh coffee grounds open on the floor and also alternated that with a shallow bowl of vinegar. These things made the smell nearly disappear.

Then, (a few days later) weather permitting, as has been suggested, I’d leave the windows open as long as possible. Eventually the smell will totally vacate the vehicle.

I’d guess a combination of scrubbing everything scrub-able with a warm water and mild soap solution, wiping everything dry with as many clean dry terrycloth towels as you can find, then blowing fresh air in one pair of windows and out the other pair using a pair of 20 inch box fans for a couple weeks would do a pretty good job of eliminating most of the cig-smell. It’s definitely an unpleasant acrid odor.

PS: don’t try to wash all the towels you use in one big load in your washing machine. Ask me how I know this fact, I’ll show you the invoice for a new washing machine … lol …

As others said, any soft surface inside the Equinox has absorbed the smoke. You need to clean all the soft surfaces as well as wiping down the hard surfaces. Your ventilation system probably has cigarette smoke in it as well if the recirculation system was ever run. This could easily take a man-week to get done.

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