How to Get Sour Milk Smell Out of Car? – Cleaning Guide

Written by

Bruce Sonnier


Marcus Dutton

how to get sour milk smell out of car

If you love going for car rides or rely on your car to go everywhere, a stinky car is not something you would like. It’s not a secret that car smells can be pretty bad. And some are more persistent- like spoiled milk odor.

The smell of milk spilled in car is not only unpleasant, but it can also lead to problems like nausea and headache if exposed to it. But why get professional help when you can remove that stinky smell by yourself?

Let us teach how to get sour milk smell out of car!

Steps to Get the Smell of Milk Out of Car

Before you start to work your magic on your car, you must first clean up any rubbles and trash that can hinder your cleaning progress. Try vacuuming your interior and get every little corner in order to get the dirty particles out of the way.

Once that is done, it is time to get rid of rotten milk smell in car.

Step #1: Clean Milk Spill In Car


To clean milk out of car, you will need:

  • Clean Cloth or Paper Towels
  • Sponge
  • Laundry detergent or Liquid detergent

It is easy to mask the sour milk smell in car, but it will only be temporary. To get started, you must first clean up the source.

  • To clean spilled milk in car, locate the affected area and quickly dab the milk-stained region using a cloth and soak in as much milk as possible.

Don’t wipe or rub if the material is car carpet or fabric, or else the milk will seep in further. For dirtied leather materials, a sponge should absorb the spills more effectively.

  • Remove any mats or fabric that can be taken out and wash them with a laundry detergent or liquid detergent. Allow soaking in soap before rinsing using cold water.
  • Tip: Wash the car accessories with hot water but use warm water for large, delicate accessories with rubber.

A great way to sanitize the accessories and remove the smell-causing germs. If unsure, always check the manufacturer label for any care instructions.

  • Dry the fabrics properly. Remember, we want to get spoiled milk smell out of car and not add a new smell.

Step #2: Get a Steam Cleaner (OPTIONAL)


Steam cleaners are a fan-fave cleaning tool because it not only blasts away unwanted particles. But it also sanitizes and deep cleans every corner of your car. This step will help remove spoiled milk smell from car especially deep-set milk.

Step #3: Removing Sour Milk Smell in Car and Deodorizing

Did you think we are done? We are just getting started!

There are times that even if you do steps 1 and 2, the sour milk smell in the car lingers. Check out the following methods to completely get spilled milk smell out of car.

  • Method 1: Charcoal


Charcoal is one of the most effective and cost-efficient odor removers available almost anywhere. It is a natural solution that doesn’t use chemicals but effectively absorbs odors in the air.

You may need to leave a bag of charcoal in your car for a few days until you completely get rid of unwanted smells. After the smell is gone, you can remove the charcoal or keep it as a deodorizer.

  • Method 2: Baking Soda


Baking soda is not only a baking ingredient but also a great stain and odor remover. Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the affected area and leave it in there for a few hours or overnight. After, collect the baking soda by vacuuming instead of swiping for a clean finish.

If the smell still remains, you may repeat the process until you can get the spilled milk smell out of the car.

  • Method 3: Enzyme Product


Material Needed: Enzyme Sprays – available in home improvement stores

If you have a couple of bucks to spare, then it is time to bring out a secret weapon.

Another effective method is by using enzyme spray for milk. They are made of proteins and digesters that can swiftly break down bad odor-causing bacterias.

Just spray a fair amount in the affected area and leave it alone for one to two days. Wipe the extra product left from the interior with a clean cloth.

  • NOTE: Do not use enzyme sprays on cars with a leather interior as it may damage the material. Always read the product instruction before using them for assurance.
  • Method 4: Natural Air Fresheners


Materials Needed:

  • Cotton Balls with drops of Vanilla
  • Coffee Ground
  • Mint Extract or Citrus Oils
  • Distilled white vinegar.

After cleaning your car, you can freshen up the interior with some natural air fresheners that you can create yourself.

  • Vanilla Scented Air Freshener – Pour a couple of drops of vanilla onto some cotton balls and place them around the car or in car vents. Of course, the more cotton balls you scatter, the more effective but do not overdo it.
  • Coffee Scented Air Freshener – Grab a container and fill it with coffee grounds. Leave it underneath the seats or somewhere secure for about two weeks and your car will smell absolutely delightful.
  • Mint/Citrus Scented Air Freshener – Mix one part white vinegar and two parts water on a clean spray bottle and add your preferred extract or essential oils. Don’t spray too much to avoid concentrated odor.

Related Tips:

Why Your Car Smells Like Sour Milk


You might have forgotten that one time you were enjoying your latte in cup, and then you hit that hump spilling everything over your seat. Or your baby made an oopsy and left the milk bottle upside down uncapped.

There may be a lot of reasons for how it started, but sour milk odors develop because of the bacteria that started reproducing rapidly from the spilled drink. Given that the car is a closed space, the moisture made it possible for the bacteria to thrive in the environment.

Spilled milk can cause a progressive unpleasant smell the longer you let it sit, especially in warm and hot weather.

Does Sour Milk Go Away by Itself?


The putrid smell of sour milk does not simply go away, especially in a closed space with minimal open-air ventilation. And even if you air out your car or drive around with the windows open, once you close the door, the smell will still linger since the spilled area is still there.

How Long Does Sour Milk Smell Last?

Depending on which method you use and how fast you clean the spilled drink, the sour milk odor can disappear as fast as overnight or at least one week.


Everyone can have a bad day and spill some food or drinks in their car. What’s more important is knowing how to get sour milk smell out of car. You must not ignore a seemingly small issue because once that nasty stuff seeps in, your nose is in it for a smelly ride.

Although quick sprays can briefly improve the smell, a thorough cleaning is just ten steps better in every way. Just as how much your car looks nice on the outside, you should also keep the interior fresh and clean from the sour milk smell.

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– Bruce Sonnier