If a car has been smoked in then the interior can quickly become coated in nicotine. It will turn all surfaces a yellow/brown colour and infiltrate all parts of the interior leaving it smelling strongly of stale smoke. Although a nicotine contaminated interior can look and smell really bad, especially to a non smoker, the correct process and products can be used to effectively remove the nicotine and restore it back to a clean, fresh and smoke free standard. The key to cleaning a nicotine contaminated car is to be as thorough as possible. Every area and surface needs to be properly cleaned.
Before cleaning you may want to put on some disposable latex gloves and use an appropriate face mask to prevent you from coming into contact with any nicotine in the air and on the surfaces during cleaning. To remove the nicotine and clean the surface underneath you can use a designated upholstery cleaning product on the headlining, seating and carpets and a plastic/trim cleaner on the hard surfaces, or you can use a diluted all purpose cleaner on all surfaces which is very effective at cutting through and lifting off the nicotine.
You should begin at the top of the interior with the headlining and work your way down accordingly cleaning a section at a time. Pre treat the areas with your cleaning product then use a damp micro fibre towel to agitate and lift the nicotine off. You will need a bucket of clean warm water to rinse and wring out the micro fibre towel after cleaning a section to prevent you from simply moving nicotine residue around the car.
Hard surfaces should be pre treated and then agitated with a stiff bristled detailing or nail brush to lift the nicotine from the grain, then cleaned with the micro fibre towel to remove the residue. Ensure you clean all areas including sun visors, air vents, & controls/switchgear. Once the upholstery and plastics & trim have been cleaned you should thoroughly clean the inside of the glass with a designated glass cleaning product, paying particular attention to the windscreen. You may need to use a little more product than normal if the contamination is heavy in order to cut through it.
During the cleaning process you should open all the doors to help the interior to aerate and aid odour removal and even after the cleaning has been done it is advisable to leave them open for a little while longer to aide the drying of the upholstery. The final step of the process is to deodorize the interior. You should use a good quality aerosol air freshening product, open all the air vents to allow it to penetrate and thoroughly spray the interior then close up the car.