Toyota 4Runner, Tacoma, and Tundra: How to Remove Smoke Smell

If smoke becomes trapped in the cabin of your Toyota 4Runner, Tacoma or Tundra, here's what you'll need to do to get rid of it.

By Charlie Gaston - January 27, 2016

This article applies to the Toyota 4Runner, Tacoma, and Tundra (1984-present).

Let's face it. Whether it's rainy season where you live or you share your vehicle with a smoker (or are one yourself), deep-seated odors can become trapped inside your truck pretty quickly. If you're lucky, they'll go away on their own without needing to take any action. However, in other cases, you will need to rid your truck of the smell on your own (or through a professional detailing team). Don't worry. There are some simple DIY tricks and tips you can use to get the job done well the first time. To prevent future trapped odors, remember to lower your windows whenever you or someone else smokes in your vehicle. And during rainy season, be sure and securely tighten your windows and keep them raised until the air dries completely.

Toyota How to remove smoke smell infographic

Materials Needed

  • Bottle of Febreeze
  • Bottle of Listerine or vinegar
  • Bucket
  • Cleaning cloth
  • Baking Soda
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Spray bottle

Step 1 – Clean your entire truck

Sweep or vacuum out your truck completely, and then wipe down all interior panels. After this is done, repeating the process as needed, move throughout the cabin spraying Febreze on your carpets, seats, headliner and other areas where there is fabric. Move slowly using a steady motion as you spray each section back and forth with Febreze.

Febreze air freshener
Figure 1. Finish this step by clipping a Febreze Car air freshener to your vent.

Pro Tips

  • Over the next few days, drive with your windows down, allowing fresh outdoor air to circulate throughout the cabin.
  • It's been suggested that sprinkling ground coffee beans and baking soda into your carpet before vacuuming it can lift stubborn odors.

Step 2 – Grab a bottle of Listerine

Pour the entire bottle into a bucket or similarly shaped (open) container. Raise all of the windows in your truck, and then leave the solution in your truck overnight with the doors closed. This cheap DIY trick is said to eliminate the most stubborn smells, including smoke, from an enclosed area.

Figure 2. It's not necessary to dilute the Listerine.

Pro Tip

  • Vinegar is also said to do the trick.

Step 3 – Have your truck professionally detailed

If the above methods haven't relieved your Toyota's interior of smoke smell, have a professional detail service completed on your truck to completely eliminate the problem. The cost should fall somewhere between $125 and $200.

Car detailing
Figure 3. Car detailing is a great option.

Pro Tips

  • Before taking this step, try one final solution: spray rubbing alcohol mixed with water directly into your front vents (near the windshield) using a spray bottle (the mist should be gentle).
  • Another trick is to spray Lysol down the air conditioning vents to eliminate mold and other odor causing bacterial growth, which might be contributing to the overall smell. Set your spray bottle to a gentle mist.

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