Throw-up Smell in Car

Updated on May 04, 2012
J.L. asks from Phillipsburg, NJ
12 answers

Just this last weekend my 19 month old threw up on our car ride to visit Grandma and Grandpa. He mainly threw up all over himself and his carseat but some also got on the actual seat and floor of the car. We cleaned with hot water and a mild all purpose cleaner right when we got to Grandma's and put a box of baking soda in the car and kept the windows open to air out. When I got home I stripped the carseat and throughly washed all the pieces and cleaned out the car with an odor destroying carpet spray and Febreezed all the seats and carpeting. Well, it still smells!! Does anyone have any advice on how to get this awful throw-up smell out of my car? I am soon to be the mother of three and imagine this will not be the only time this is going to happen so I would appreciate any words of wisdom. Thanks!!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Use carpet cleaner on the rug. Also get some OdorBan from Sam's and wash down everything with that. Try to determine where the smell is coming from. Get in ALL crevices and cracks.
You can also (if desperate) get an ozone machine or get the car detailed by a professional. Sorry--this sounds awful. :-(

(Puke is the gift that keeps on giving isn't it?)

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Indianapolis on

Of course, I accidentally closed the browser after writing a long message for you.

Febreeze makes a good product for cars, but it's best when you've completely removed the stain first.

My best advice would be to make a paste out of either baking soda/water or Borax/water (saw this on the Borax box last night to neutralize pet urine odors) and vacuum once dry.

Our daughter's sippy cup fell out of her seat and landed upside down last year without our knowledge. After a few days, we smelled the sour milk and found the cup. The thing that worked best for us was to get a car carpet cleaning solution (any auto section) and clean what we could, then take a towel folded a few times, put it on the area and apply some kind of weight to literally wick the remaining vomit out of the upholstery.

We learned this from the Queen of Clean's website (she had been on Oprah many years ago and swears she hasn't met a stain she can't get out) because of our dog constantly throwing up bile on our carpets (works like a charm).

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Good old fashioned white vinegar and water mixture. Open all the windows in the car and spray the areas that got puke on them, and let air dry. Take the car seat out spray that down as well and let it dry in the sun. I also suggest that you spray the area underneathe the car seat as well, bcse sometimes you miss a spot in the clean up. Just make sure you have scrubbed the aareas well first to make sure there is no puke left.

Trust me, as the mother of 2 kids who puke A LOT, this is what I do in my house after I clean puke off the carpet and in my car as well. Your car will smell like a salad for a few days, but it sure beats puke!!!! And the vinegar and water won't stain or cause discoloration in the fabric. Good luck!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

My best suggestion would be to have the car detailed. I know that it's pricey, but if you miss a spot when cleaning you will know it very quickly in the summer heat! My son spilled formula in my car and it was absolutely disgusting! I tried scrubbing it out and using the Febreeze and finally gave-in and took it for a detail. It worked and the car was squeaky clean!



answers from New York on

I've heard that leaving a cup of black coffee in the car overnight will get rid of vomit stench. Good luck! Let me know if it works! :)



answers from New York on

Hi J.,
Sol-U-Mel not only deodorizes but also seriosuly cleans every kind of stains and mishaps that life throw at us. Permanent markers, vomit stains and such are no match for this green, safe, affordable product.
Talk to me...:)
Good Luck!
WAHM...and loving every minute and dimes!!



answers from Boca Raton on

Best product ever!!! I have a bottle in the car and at home.

Milk Bee Gone


Best product ever!!



answers from New York on

Zero Odor, it works.



answers from New York on

I would try a carpet cleaner like 409 brand, spray very liberally, really let it set in, then work with a wet cloth. If that doesn't do it, I would pay to have the car professionally detailed. Good luck



answers from New York on

Go to the pet store and get Nature's Miracle, follow the directions on the bottle. I keep a bottle of it diluted under my kitchen sink for emergencies, it works wonderful on that plus urine and feces. We not only have 5 children, we also have 2 dogs, 3 cats, and a ferret. My calico seems to think every time we put a rug down in the bathroom it means he can urinate on it and my boys tend to forget to pick up the rug after they take a shower and my sons are all prone to migraines and get car sick. With that being said I buy the Nature's Miracle by the gallon. For your car I would use it stronger and let it sit on the seats and rug for a while to let it penetrate into the fibers. Let me know how you make out.


answers from Chicago on

I'm thinking of stuff called Nature's Miracle. It's actually for pets, but should neutralize the smell just the same. You can get it at PetCo or PetSmart.
I would try that.

Also, are you sure you got everything? There might be some hiding in a crack or under the floor mats...somewhere. Someone else suggested detailing, and that's a pretty good idea!



answers from Denver on

You need to get a cleaner that is enzyme-based. There are many, including some pet stain cleaners - read the labels. I used to have one called Mother's Miracle, but I don't know where to get that now. But an enzyme-based cleaner will break down biological substances, whatever they are -- vomit, poop/pee, milk, etc -- and they work really well. Febreeze will do nothing.

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