Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Dogs, cigarette smoke, and fast food, oh my

I was recently gifted a car from a grandparent who can no longer drive. In the time between when they stopped driving and gave the car to me, they allowed a ‘friend’ to use it, for example, to take them to the grocery store and such. The ‘friend’ took advantage of my grandparent and used the car as if it were a rental car and treated it as such, driving it to their jobs and to their friend’s homes, when that person has a perfectly good truck of his own. My problem is that the friend trashed the car. I’ve fixed all the mechanical damage they did to the car but I still have an issue. The friend was a HEAVY smoker, there was a dog in the car often, and the friend left garbage and food all over the car. I spent 2 days just getting all the trash and food out of the car. The smell when I first opened the door almost made me puke. I’ve shop vac-ed, armoralled, windexed, scrubbed with soap and water, febreezed, lysoled and lint brushed the dog hair multiple times. I took it to delta sonic and had it shampooed and now it smells like a wet dog. I can’t even put air fresheners in the car because my dad is allergic. I need to get rid of the smell not just mask it. HELP!!!

Try this, get a one quart bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide 3% and mix it in a bowl with one cup of baking soda. Use it to wash/shampoo the seats. This formula can get the “skunk” off a dog, so it should work for your car.

You have to be pretty quick with it and do not stir the H2O2 too much as it breaks down quickly. Stir slowly and just long enough to dissolve the Baking Soda.

would it be possible to ask said “friend” to pay for a detailing on the car, since they used it so much?

Once the smell of tabacco and a wet pet are impinged into the interior of a vehicle the smell will always be there. Short of stripping the interior out and replacing it. So you either live with the smell, or sell the vehicle to a smoker who loves dogs.


Peroxide will bleach anything it comes in with. I agree that the interior will probably need to be stripped. If there is a cabin air filter in the car, you should change that too.

I’m in agreement with Tester about the smell remaining. About your only option is to hit an established auto detail shop up for some help or gut the interior to some degree. That means removing the carpet and matting and thoroughly cleaning and drying it outside of the vehicle.
Even the above is no guarantee the smell will go away or even subside.

This reminds me of the buy who bought a new SAAB from a dealer I worked for. The first time he brought it in for a major service at 15k miles I walked out to the lot, opened the door, and almost upchucked on the spot from the smell. It was so bad that I rounded up a couple of guys and we pushed the car into the shop rather than me drive it in. I actually had to cover my face with a hand while leaning in to reach the ignition key which is between the seats. Within 5 minutes everyone in the shop could smell that abomination and the odor even drifted into the parts department.

The problem was caused by his ferrying 2 large Wolfhounds around all of the time. The car was covered in dog hair, urine, and feces.
The really bad part? This clown was a Pediatrician at Children’s Hospital in OK City and he would walk in there every day after getting out of this heap.
There’s no way that nurses and patients could not notice this guy smelling like an open sewer and carrying no telling how much dog hair and germs in with him. Apparently he thinks more of his dogs than his patients.

3% Peroxide is not strong enough to do much bleaching. The formula came from PBS Nova show about skunks. It was the only thing that worked on getting rid of skunk odor. It may not work in this case, but if you have accepted that you are going to strip the interior, then why not try it. It’s cheap and you have nothing to lose.