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Cleaning tobacco tar from interior?

Old January 22nd, 2017, 05:48 AM
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Cleaning tobacco tar from interior?

Any recommendations on how to clean the inter of a car that was smoked in heavily? One of our Jetfire's was smoked in and the interior is grungy from it. I have tried some things in areas but it is not working out well. The paint on the dash is a flat finish and I am not sure what to use. I know flat finishes are affected badly by many cleaners. I did try dish soap and water but had little affect.

The headliner is in perfect condition but has so much tobacco tar in it that I don't think it is possible to clean it. My interior is silver so the tar makes it look very grungy.

Any thoughts? Anything special made for something like this?
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Old January 22nd, 2017, 06:18 AM
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The thing I have found to work is a strong detergent, like Fantastik, Formula 409, Oil Eater, etc.
These will generally dissolve and remove the nicotine, but they may not remove all yellow staining, if it's the result of a reaction with the surface.

They are also very strong, and can take off or change the surface finish of some paints, especially if the paint has been chemically weakened by the greasy nicotine.

Also, the lettering on the inside surfaces of some gauges will be completely wiped away by these.

Try on inconspicuous areas, and then use cautiously if you like the effect, and rinse with lots of water.

- Eric
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Old January 22nd, 2017, 06:31 AM
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I would give Simple Green a try. It is a great cleaner and has a very nice smell to it.
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Old January 22nd, 2017, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by redoldsman View Post
I would give Simple Green a try. It is a great cleaner and has a very nice smell to it.
X2. I haven't used it on a headliner but numerous times on the interior of rental properties. Walls that are the color of hot chocolate will dissolve into something like what they were when painted originally( it won't fill in the 3 inch holes in the walls they left though)..... Tedd
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Old January 22nd, 2017, 09:21 AM
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I've found citrus cleaner to work really well, From sticky sport wheels to greasy parts. 3m makes an aerosol that I used on the sport wheel. I use the one gallon concentrate for undercarriage cleaning.
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Old January 22nd, 2017, 09:47 AM
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Tough to get out the smell. Ozone seems to help remove it. Or Ultra violet light. I put a UV system in my forced air furnace. Seems to remove a lot of odours. When I bought my house 30 years ago the owners were heavy, heavy smokers. You could literally see every stud in the wall from the ghost outlines of the nicotine. I tried everything to clean it but the smell remained. I ended up ripping out all the drywall and replacing it. I hate nicotine smell.
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Old January 22nd, 2017, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike77 View Post
Tough to get out the smell. Ozone seems to help remove it. Or Ultra violet light. I put a UV system in my forced air furnace. Seems to remove a lot of odours. When I bought my house 30 years ago the owners were heavy, heavy smokers. You could literally see every stud in the wall from the ghost outlines of the nicotine. I tried everything to clean it but the smell remained. I ended up ripping out all the drywall and replacing it. I hate nicotine smell.
Surprisingly, There is no smell left. This car was parked in 74 and all this mess was before that. I thought after I started cleaning it would start smelling but it still don't smell. I will try simple green and see how it works. So far, I am thinking it has stained the paint on the lower dash.
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Old January 22nd, 2017, 04:58 PM
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Are the seats and door panels vinyl. If so I have had good luck with Goop Hand cleaner (that comes in a small Plastic tub..) We had a contract to clean car and trucks for a locally owned carbon plant and it worked well on Vinyl Upholstery as well as the painted interiors of the older trucks. As for the headliners I would try a spot with mild soap and water then Blot out the dampness with Adult Diapers. Larry
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Old February 13th, 2017, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Rocketowner View Post
Are the seats and door panels vinyl. If so I have had good luck with Goop Hand cleaner (that comes in a small Plastic tub..) We had a contract to clean car and trucks for a locally owned carbon plant and it worked well on Vinyl Upholstery as well as the painted interiors of the older trucks. As for the headliners I would try a spot with mild soap and water then Blot out the dampness with Adult Diapers. Larry
I have heard before that Goop works well for this. I never tried it but decided to look more into it. I then decided to try it on a small spot and it works GREAT! I then decided to do the entire back seat back and it is amazing how well this works. I have the seat back drying now but I plan to do the other seats tomorrow night. I am trying to use the least amount of water I can because after 55 years the seat frames have not turned brown yet.

I am sold on using Goop for vinyl seats now. Not sure I would try it on seats that are still in the car but it is worth taking the seats out if you want them real clean anyway. Thanks for the post.
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