How to fix cigarette burns inside your car

If you smoke cigarettes while driving your car, or if you bought a used car from someone who smokes, chances are your car seats have burns. They are unsightly and over time they can make your car’s interior look really worn. Fortunately, there are ways to fix those tiny cigarette burn holes. Discover the process.

Repair cigarette burns in your car’s leather seats

A man hangs a cigarette from his car window. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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Cigarette burns occur when the ash from the cigarette falls on the seat. A small hole forms very quickly, and sometimes you can even see the white cushion under the seat cover. The quickest and easiest way to remedy this problem would be to purchase a set of seat covers to cover the entire front seat.

However, if you want to patch things up instead, here are the steps to repair cigarette burns in leather seats according to Family handyman:

  • Step 1: If the cigarette burn hasn’t completely gone through the seat, you can use an X-Acto knife to partially cut around the burn and then fill in the hole. However, if the burn went all the way, move on to the next step.
  • 2nd step: Use the X-acto knife to cut the burn, which will leave a hole.
  • Step 3: Use tweezers to insert a piece of canvas through the hole and behind the leather. Be sure to leave about a half inch of overlap around all edges.
  • Step 4: Apply some glue to the inside edges of the hole and press it down to fix it to the canvas and let it dry for 20 minutes.
  • Step 5: Apply four coats of Leather Sealant, allow each coat to dry for 3 minutes before applying the next. You can use a hair dryer to speed up the process.
  • Step 6: Use a leather touch-up kit to match the color of the leather. You can apply the color to the putty using a cotton swab and let it dry for a minute. Apply more touch-ups to blend the color well.

As we can see, removing leather seats is quite a complex process. However, filling burns on cloth seats is a bit easier.

Repair cigarette burns on the fabric seats of your car

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If your car has cloth seats, it’s a little easier to patch cigarette burn holes. Family Handyman suggests the following steps:

  • Step 1: If the hole has scorch marks around it, you can reduce the scorch marks by rubbing some mayonnaise on it and then wiping it off.
  • 2nd step: Take a razor blade and carefully shave some of the fabric under the seat or on the carpeted floor mats. It is important to find the fabric in the car that is closest in color to the seat cover you are patching up.
  • Step 3: Apply glue to the hole and place the cut fabric inside the hole.
  • Step 4: Let the glue dry. If necessary, reapply more fabric to fill in the hole or to better match the color of the seat.

For a brand new look, professional upholstery is recommended

A man smokes a hand-rolled cigarette in his car.

A man smokes a hand-rolled cigarette in his car. | FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP via Getty Images

If you patch up your car seats using the aforementioned methods and you are still not satisfied with the results, you can always take the car to a professional to have the seats reupholstered. Keep in mind that this method will be much more expensive and time-consuming, but in the end, your car’s interior will look like new.

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Betty K. Park