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How To Clean Vomit From Your Car - And Make Sure It Never Smells Again



It's something nobody wants to think about, but, when it happens, it requires quick action. Vomiting in your car is more common than you might think. Motion sickness is a disturbance of the inner ear that is similar to sea sickness and can cause adults and kids alike to become sick when traveling.


Unfortunately, for those suffering, one of the common symptoms is vomiting.

Whether you vomited in the car due to motion sickness or something else, there is hope. You can prevent stains and remove the smell and all signs it ever happened when you act quickly. Let's dive in and explore what action to take depending on whether you're dealing with fresh or dried vomit.

Cleaning Fresh Vomit

Time is of the essence when it comes to cleaning vomit. As it begins to dry, things get much more difficult. If you're in a position to clean it while it's still fresh, you're in a great position as the outcome will be best in this scenario. The last thing you want to deal with is stains and long-lasting odor that's the first thing people notice when they get in your car.

As you prepare to do the dirty work, be ready with a few important tools.


These include a trash bag, a spatula or scraping tool, and paper towels. Begin by picking up the solid matter. Using the spatula, scrape it up and place it in the trash bag. When you've scraped as much as possible, use the dry paper towels to pick up smaller pieces until you've removed as much solid matter as possible.

Dealing with the Liquid Portion

To begin removing the liquid portion, start by placing paper towels on the area. Be careful not to push too hard as this can cause the liquid to become forced into the underlying surface and lead to smells that are difficult to remove. Let the towels sit on the area for around 5 minutes.

Absorb Unpleasant Odors

Remove the paper towels and sprinkle baking soda over the area. It's a well-known natural odor eliminator that can be used in a variety of situations. Rather than just masking odors, it absorbs them. Let it sit on the area for around a half hour to take full effect.

Once this process is complete, you'll need to prepare a cleaning mixture, and there are different types depending on the material you're working with:

Cloth, Plastic, and Vinyl: Mix about three drops of dishwashing fluid, 1/8th of a cup of white vinegar, and one cup of warm water. Stir thoroughly and put in a spray bottle.

Leather: Mix together one cup of baking soda with 1/3 cup of water to create a paste.

Apply the solution to the area and scrub it in thoroughly with a dry rag. It's never a bad idea to also have a hard-bristled toothbrush on hand to assist in the event the vomit has absorbed into the car's carpeting and other fabric.

Rinsing Instructions

You will need to remove the cleaning solution. Of course, you can't run it under water. To rinse it out, use a damp cloth for leather surfaces. If you're working with cloth, plastic, or carpeting, you can graduate to a wet cloth.

Once you've removed the cleaning solution, blot the area with a dry cloth to remove staining. Once finished, open the windows to promote drying. You can hasten this process by using a blow dryer.

Pro Tip

When picking out the type of cloth to use, it's best to find one that's lint-free to keep your car as clean as possible.

Cleaning Dried Vomit

Unfortunately, it's not always possible to clean vomit up immediately. In the even it's had time to dry, there are a few modifications to make.

The unfortunate thing is that, whatever portion of the vomit that was destined to soak into your car's materials has already done so. The process for cleaning is much the same as cleaning fresh vomit. You'll just need to apply slightly different steps to get started:

The solid material isn't going to be as easy to remove. Do your best to remove as much as possible using a scraping tool. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove smaller particles. Repeat this process until you've removed as much dry material as possible.

Once this is complete, follow the steps outlined above for cleaning fresh vomit.

Dealing with Odors

Even given the most prompt attention, it's not uncommon to be left with a slight lingering smell. This can last a day or two or even weeks depending on the nature of the situation. To best remedy the problem, there are a few different products you can use:


  • Baking soda to absorb smells

  • Enzyme removing products

  • One part vinegar mixed with two parts water sprayed on the area and allowed to dry

  • Activated charcoal

These are all tips to employ to eliminate the smell. For a quick and temporary fix, you can always use car air freshening products. Keep in mind, however, they do nothing to provide a long term solution or address the immediate area of concern.

Pro Tip

When in doubt, baking soda is your best friend when it comes to a long-term solution in ridding your car of the vomit smell. Even if you aren't able to clean it up immediately, its natural odor absorbing properties can do wonders in terms of getting your car back to smelling normal again.

Keep Your Car Clean and Fresh

When you fail to remove vomit from your car in the right way, you risk lasting stains and smells that are hard to cover up. Aside from the obvious gross factor, this can even decrease the resale value of your vehicle. When it comes to vomit in your car, there are three key tips to keep in mind:

  • The sooner you can address the problem, the better.

  • Baking soda is your best friend when it comes to removing odors.

  • You can get your car back to normal when you use the right methods in relation to the material type involved.

Your car is a valuable asset. By following these tips, you can be on your way to keeping your car clean and fresh even after it's been vomited in.

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