DIY Auto Detailing: How to Clean and Remove Vomit (and that smell!) from Car Seats and Carpet

CleaningInteriorWith St. Patrick’s Day quickly approaching, there’s an important link to auto detailing that you may want to keep in mind. After all, if you’re stuck being the designated driver in a car full of drunken friends, your car could easily fall subject to someone’s stomach contents. We will share with you three basic steps to help you deal with this unfortunate incident and save your car from the consequences.

Step 1: Clean Up Immediately

Few things are less desirable than getting up close and personal with a pile of vomit. If you’re like most people, you’re going to want to slap on some rubber gloves and clean the mess yourself rather than spending big bucks on an auto detailer to do the job.

As soon as the mess happens, we recommend getting rid of it immediately so that it doesn’t continue to soak in. Also, vomit can be much easier to clean if it hasn’t dried and become caked into the fabric or upholstery of your car seats and floor. Soak up the heaviest moisture and get rid of any solid material with the help of some paper towels.

Step 2: Kill the Smell

There are actually a few options that can help you with cleaning the stain and getting rid of the acidic smell:

VinegarCleaningSolutionVinegar and water: Grab a bowl and mix one part vinegar with one part water. This solution will disinfect the car seats while loosening whatever vomit remains and help reduce the smell. Keep a set of clean gloves handy and get to scrubbing. Once all the vomit is gone, leaving the windows open should help air out and dry the interior, removing the majority of the smell thanks to the potency of vinegar.

Baking soda: As an alternative, baking soda can help absorb the smell of the vomit. Although it’s a bit of a messy solution, it’s a cheap response to the problem. Apply a generous amount and keep it there for several hours before vacuuming away.

Steam Cleaner: If you have a few bucks to spare, heavy duty cleaning equipment such as a steam cleaner can help remove any pathogens remaining in your upholstery. Hardware stores and some supermarkets may even let your rent these cleaners for a nominal fee.

Odor eliminator: To truly neutralize the smell, rather than masking or absorbing it, it is best to acquire a no-scent odor eliminator. Avoid using scented products since they’re more likely to mask the scent rather than remove it. With your chosen product, spray a generous amount over the soiled area and wait for the required amount of time.

Air freshener: In some cases, even after a thorough cleaning, you may still find there to be a lingering smell in your car. You can always spray some air freshener, making sure not to use an acidic smell (such as orange) which can actually worsen the vomit smell.

In all cases, you’ll note that the odor will start to dissipate and will eventually disappear completely with the proper technique. After cleaning the area, you can take additional action as you see fit.

With these tips in mind, you’ll have no trouble in the future and you’ll have gotten a great auto-detailing experience without having to pay for the expensive procedure from a professional.