The Ultimate Guide on How to Clean Vomit and Vomit Smell From Your Car

Written by

Bruce Sonnier


Marcus Dutton

how to clean vomit and vomit smell from your car

Even though we always try to keep our car in tip-top conditions, there are times where accidents can occur, and we are left with vomit in the interiors. This can be the aftermath of an overexcited baby or an overexcited group of drunken friends. Either way, the only way out is knowing how to clean vomit and vomit smell from your car—and that is exactly what we will reveal to you in this article.

In short, the steps to cleaning vomit from a car and removing vomit smell from a car are:

  • Prepping yourself and the workplace
  • Removing any solid vomit and discarding it
  • Getting rid of the liquids that are left over
  • Applying baking soda to neutralize the odor
  • Using water, white vinegar, and mild soap for a deeper clean

For details of each step as well as details on what to use and other essential tips, continue to read!

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Clean Vomit From a Car


Cleaning vomit and its nasty smell from your vehicle are easier than it sounds. All you have to do is read carefully and follow the steps below.

What You Will Need to Have

  • A pair of rubber gloves
  • A spoon or spatula
  • A plastic sealable bag
  • Paper towels or napkins
  • Baking soda
  • Warm water
  • Mixing containers
  • Soft-bristle brush or soft rag
  • Several sets of fresh rags
  • Vacuum
  • White vinegar
  • Mild soap
  • Hydrogen peroxide (Optional)
  • Enzymatic cleaner (Optional)
  • Air freshener (Optional)
  • Activated charcoal, coffee grounds, or white vinegar (Optional)
  • A rented steamer (Optional)

Although this list is lengthy, the materials are not too difficult to find. You can get them online or offline at reasonable prices. You may even have a few readily available at home!

What You Will Need to Do


Step 1: Prepping yourself and the workplace


First, identify all the vomit that you will have to clean. It is necessary to have a clear image so that you know what to address and direct your attention towards. Put on a pair of rubber gloves to protect your hands. Then, open all the doors or roll down all the windows to allow fresh air to circulate.

Step 2: Removing any solid vomit and discarding it


Next, remove any solid chunks of vomit with a spoon or spatula. Get as much out as possible, and do this as soon as you can; working with fresh vomit is easier than dried and hardened vomit. Plus, vomit is acidic, so you do not want it sitting in your car for too long and causing damage.

If the vomit is on the upholstery, make sure you are not pushing the vomit deeper by applying too much force. Discard the vomit in a sealable plastic bag, and throw the bag into the proper trash can.

Step 3: Getting rid of the leftover liquids

Now, you will deal with the remaining liquids. Blot them away with paper towels. Gentle dabbing will lift the moisture from the upholstery, but be careful to not further ground the liquid in by pushing too hard. Blot until you see that all the liquids are drawn out.

Step 4: Applying baking soda to neutralize the odor


This is where baking soda comes in. Apply a generous coating on the area-in-treating and let it settle for 30 minutes. If possible, leave the baking soda on overnight. It will draw out the moisture and get rid of the vomit smell in your car.

Then, use the baking soda for another mixture—3:1 ratio of warm water and baking soda, respectively. It should be a paste-like solution. Use it to deep-clean the vomit area with a soft-bristle brush or soft rag. You may have to repeat this step many times to get the desired results. Once it dries, vacuum any excess baking soda away.

Step 5: Using water, white vinegar, and mild soap for a deeper clean


Moving onto the carpets, prepare an 8:1 ratio solution of warm water and distilled white vinegar. Add a few drops of mild soap and mix everything well in a clean container before proceeding. This solution can work out the vomit from your carpets.

Top Tip: The vinegar smell can be quite pungent, so put on a face mask if you want.

After a while, rinse the mixture away with a fresh, damp cloth. Make sure that you are soaking the cloth wet, not directly pouring water on the area. Once this is done, you can take a break and let the odor slowly dissipate through the open doors or windows.

Possible Additional Steps

If the vomit smell is still lingering, here are several additional steps that you can take.

Step 1: Using baking soda and hydrogen peroxide

Do another deep clean with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Combine one teaspoon of the latter and one cup of the former for the solution. Let it sit and work its magic on any vomit-stained area for one hour or more. Then, blot dry it with a rag. You should be able to find hydrogen peroxide at drugstores for a fairly inexpensive price.

Step 2: Using an enzymatic cleaner


Let the area rest for a bit, then further treat it with an enzymatic cleaner, which kills off odor-causing bacteria. Like the above mixture, pour this cleaner directly onto the area and let it settle for an hour. Then, blot dry it with a rag. Some suggestions for an enzymatic cleaner are ​​Adam’s Enzymatic Cleaner, Malco Enzyme Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner, and Cyclone Enzyme Cleaner.

These two steps should get the vomit smell out of any car seat.

Step 3: Using an air freshener


As for the smell in the air, use a quality air freshener. There are plenty of options in the market. However, when choosing one, be sure to get one with an antibacterial formula. This ensures that it masks any smells permanently. Ideally, the freshener will wipe out the odor-causing bacteria to get the throw-up smell out of your car.

Reliable air fresheners that you can consider are those from Chemical Guys and Febreeze.

Note: You can also get a hanging freshener for your car, which doubles as a cute decoration. Popular products are Little Trees Hanging Air Freshener Paper Tree and Yankee Candle Car Jar Ultimate Hanging Air Freshener.

Step 4: Using a DIY deodorizer with activated charcoal, coffee grounds, or white vinegar

Another method that you can try is placing a bowl or plate of activated charcoal, coffee grounds, or white vinegar in your car overnight. Use about five tablespoons. This will act as a deodorizer, absorbing any unwanted smell.

Remove it in the morning and replace it with a new one. Do it for three days to ensure that any smell is permanently removed. Do not forget to throw away the used deodorizer.

Note: The vinegar smell will eventually be gone, but the charcoal and coffee smell may stick around for a while.

Step 5: Using a rented steamer

At this point, if you still cannot get the puke smell out of your car, consider renting a steamer for an even deeper clean. If you already have a steamer at home, even better!

Using the steamer is not too complicated. Simply fill the steamer with water and turn it on. Spray steam onto the upholstery that needs treating. Go over it several times in alternating directions to ensure that you have worked hot water into the area. In essence, you are steaming the upholstery. To complete, blot dry any excess moisture with a fresh rag.

For more instructions on how to use a steamer, watch this video on Youtube by Wilson Auto Detailing.

So, there you have it! Cleaning puke out of a car does not have to be difficult after all.


With that, you have reached the end of this article. You now know how to clean vomit and vomit smell from your car. Aside from that, other additional steps that you can take to get rid of the lingering smell are:

  • Using baking soda and hydrogen peroxide
  • Using an enzymatic cleaner
  • Using an air freshener
  • Using a DIY deodorizer with activated charcoal, coffee grounds, or white vinegar
  • Using a rented steamer

Hopefully, it was easy to follow and helpful.

If you have any other follow-up questions or thoughts regarding this topic, please leave a comment. We always look forward to hearing from our readers. So, do not hesitate. Also, feel free to share this article with your family, friends, and anyone you think will benefit from or appreciate the content!

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