How To Clean Vomit And Its Smell From A Car

Vomit in your car can reek and can last for ages. Are you cleaning it correctly to prevent this from happening?

Have you ever gotten into your car after someone else has gotten sick in it? Most people don’t know how to properly clean vomit and smell from a car.

Cleaning vomit and smell from a car is a dreaded task for most, but it’s important to know how to clean it up correctly so that the smell doesn’t linger. You will need some supplies like carpet cleaner, a vacuum cleaner, baking soda and dish soap.

This article will discuss how to clean vomit and smell from a car.

We will provide step-by-step instructions on how to do it and tips on how to make the process easier. 

Clean The Vomit As Soon As Possible

The best way to clean vomit and smell from a car is to do it as soon as possible. The longer the vomit sits, the more difficult it will be to get rid of the smell.

At the very least, wipe up the vomit and start cleaning as soon as you have the equipment necessary to clean. 

If you are an Uber or Lyft driver, you never know what clientele to expect. I advise you to have some of the cleaners on hand in your trunk for these types of situations. 

Grayish white dirty and stained car seats

Steps to Cleaning

1. Wipe Off the Vomit

This is the most straightforward and most essential step. Wipe up any and all of the vomit. Do this as fast as possible so that the vomit does not start soaking into your car. 

Try to scoop it up with paper towels instead of literally wiping it across your car seat when wiping off the vomit. If you drag the vomit across your car seat, it will only spread along more surface area, which means more area to clean. 

2. Place An Absorbent Material On Top Of The Vomit

Next, place some paper towels on the vomit area and start pressing the paper towel into the area. This will help absorb any moisture and make the area easier to clean. If you don’t have paper towels, use some old clothes or a rag.

3. Spray The Area With Carpet Cleaner

After placing an absorbent material on top of the vomit, soak it up with some carpet cleaner that contains enzymes. Enzyme cleaners work because they contain live bacteria that seek out organic odors, like those caused by bodily fluids, food, dirt, or plants. These bacteria break down the odor-causing molecules found in stains and odors.

One of the enzymatic cleaners that I recommend is Meguiar’s D116.

To use this cleaner on your car, spray it all over the affected area (vomit usually splatters). Let it soak for a couple of minutes.

4. Scrub the Area

Scrub the area with an upholstery brush after letting it soak for a couple of minutes. I recommend that if you are using an enzymatic cleaner like the one listed above, you wear a glove. The cleaners can turn your hands white and dry them out.

5. Absorb It All Up

Repeat step number 2 and use paper towels to absorb as much of the enzymatic spray as possible. 

6. Let The Area Dry Overnight

After the area has been wiped dry, it’s time to let it sit for about 8 hours so that it can completely dry.

Doing this overnight will allow you to start fresh in the morning when you come back out to your car.

7. Neutralize The Odor – Charcoal Cleaner Or Odor Neutralizer

If, for any reason, there is still an odor in your car the next day, then the final step in the process is to neutralize any odors left over by using an odor neutralizer.

An odor neutralizer that never fails to work is Dakota Odor Bomb. Apply the product as per the instructions. If there is a slight odor still, apply it one more time.

Once you’re satisfied that the area is clean, go ahead and vacuum one more time to ensure all of the products are gone. Then enjoy a fresh-feeling car!

Use An Air Freshener for Ongoing Maintenance

After following these steps, your car should smell fresh and clean again and won’t smell like vomit. 

For ongoing maintenance, it’s a good idea to use an air freshener. This will help maintain your car’s fresh smell and neutralize any odors. 

There are many products on the market and most of them work pretty well. 

Christmas tree shaped car freshener hanging in front

Consider renting an extractor

If you’ve tried all of the methods mentioned above and the vomit smell still lingers in your car, then you might want to consider renting an extractor.

An extractor is a machine that uses suction to remove any liquid or solid particles from a surface. This can help remove any vomit or odor particles that are still in your car.

There are many different types of extractors that you can rent, so it’s important to do your research before deciding which one is best for you.

The process of extracting the vomit and smell from your car will take some time, but it’s worth it to get rid of the unpleasant odor.

What to Do with the Carpets

If your carpets are stained or damaged due to vomit, you might need to replace them.

You can buy new carpets at various stores, or you can have them installed by a professional.

If your carpets are in good condition, you can clean them with a carpet cleaner machine. This will help remove any smells or stains that might have been left behind.

After cleaning the carpets, it’s important to dry them completely. You can do this by using a fan or leaving the windows open.

A man scrubbing the black seats of a car interior

What Not To Do When Cleaning Vomit In Your Car

You want to avoid several things when cleaning vomit out of your car.

  1. Never use a steam cleaner because the heat from the steamer will lock in any odors left over from the vomit or other smells that might be present.
  1. Water will also help lock in those smells if they aren’t completely wiped away. So make sure to dry your car as thoroughly as possible before driving it again.
  1. Never use vinegar to clean up a mess like this because it will make the area smell worse once it’s cleaned with vinegar and water. Vinegar can also damage several fabrics used for upholstery and carpets inside a vehicle. Vinegar is especially bad for fabric on seats because it can lead to color loss and cracks if not taken care of properly.
  1. Do not use cornstarch when cleaning up vomit because it can leave behind a starchy or powdery residue that will attract dirt and dust particles in the air. It’s best to avoid using these types of remedies altogether.
  1. Never use ammonia or bleach as a cleaning solution either because these will damage the fabrics in your car and cause more problems for you down the road.
  1. Don’t rub the area with water because this will only spread the vomit around further, causing stains and smells to be more noticeable over time. Instead, try to remove as much of it as possible and follow up with one of the solutions listed above to remove any lingering smells or stains.

Overall, getting rid of the vomit and smell from your car is a big task, but it’s one that can bea successfully dealt with if you follow our instructions above. Make sure you’re using the right products when cleaning up the mess to avoid causing more damage or having another odor problem in your car later on.

Caitlyn Koch
Caitlyn Koch has been working in interior design for over 5 years. Caitlyn believes that interior design is more than just making a space look pretty - it's about creating an environment that people will enjoy living in.
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