Vomit in the Car: How to Remove Unpleasant Odors and Residues from the Interior of the Vehicle?

by Stephanie Yankova

SOS – there’s vomit in the car! How do you get rid of the unpleasant smell and stubborn stains? Here’s every hack you can use to make your car seats look brand new! 

Have you ever had to clean vomit stains in your car from your kids or pets? If the answer is ‘yes’, you know how unpleasant and difficult this task is! The worst part is that, if you have textile seats, and you don’t clean them properly, you’ll probably end up with pretty unsightly stains. I know that dealing with this matter is no one’s idea of a fun Sunday afternoon, however, in order to avoid the bad lingering smell and possible deeper stains, it’s important that you act quickly! The good news is that there are plenty of household items you can use to solve this problem and make your car look and smell squeaky clean! Scroll on to learn more about those simple DIY cleaning hacks!

How to React Quickly to Vomit in the Car?

woman feeling sick while driving car cleaning hacks

The first thing you should do is stop the vehicle and not panic! The person who vomited in your car probably already feels embarrassed enough, there’s no need to escalate the situation!

toddler feeling sick in car vomiting in paper bag

Any on-hand disinfectants such as antibacterial wipes, or a clean cloth and water can be used to clean any solid chunks and absorb the liquids. Immediately dispose of the used wipes or rags and dab the stained area with a clean towel soaked only in water. In fact, try to only dab, and not rub, to remove the vomit, otherwise, you might get it smeared on the car seats or floor mats.

What Household Items Can You Use to Clean Vomit Stains?

cleaning driver seat microfiber cloth baking powder water

If only the car mats are affected after vomiting, then you’re in luck, especially if they are made of rubber. However, carpeted car floor mats will require a little bit more attention and immediate reaction. If you don’t have any cleaning products at hand that you can use, look for supplies at the nearest gas station or use any piece of fabric that you have (for example, a T-shirt) to blot the stains until you get home.

Read also: Can I Wash My Car Mats in the Washing Machine? Learn How to Clean Car Mats the Easy Way!

vacuuming car cleaning hacks

Once you’ve arrived at your final destination you can put to work our two beloved household cleaning products – distilled white vinegar and baking soda. Here are a couple of ways you can use them to bring back your car’s freshness!

Cleaning the Car Seats

cleaning vomit stains leather car seats baking soda microfiber cloth
  • Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on the stained area.
  • Leave it on overnight, so it can work its magic.
  • On the next day, use a vacuum cleaner to remove any residue.
  • If you can still notice the stains, make a paste by mixing baking soda and water.
  • Directly apply the paste to the affected area.
  • If the seats are made of leather, be gentle when using the baking soda as it can scratch the material and leave marks.

Removing Unpleasant Smell

white vinegar water cleaning solution spray bottle car disinfectant

For the following cleaning solution, you are going to need white vinegar. The following steps will explain how to make it:

  • First dilute distilled white vinegar in a 1:1 ratio with water in a spray bottle. This mixture will not only help you remove the stains quickly and efficiently but also help get rid of the unpleasant smell.
  • If your car seats are made of textile, spray the solution directly onto the stained area and scrub it until the nasty spots are gone. In case your seats are made of leather, soak a microfiber cloth in the solution and use the cloth to wipe off the vomit stains.
  • Because white vinegar is acidic, it’s advised that you wear gloves while using it, even if your hands are not in direct contact with the cleaning product.
  • Once you’re finished, leave the car windows open for a few hours so that the smell can evaporate.

Refreshing the Interior

refreshing car seats cleaning vomit stains steam cleaner
  • If you have a steam cleaner, now is the perfect time to whip it out! This device can easily eliminate stains, as well as remove unpleasant odors from your car seats!
  • You can also get this done at a car wash, however, it would be much more expensive, especially if you already have the steaming tool at your disposal.
  • It’s important that you use it on the whole interior of the car in order to remove all the bacteria.


air freshner cleaning vomit from car seats

After you’ve successfully dealt with the stains and smell in the car, it’s good to take measures to prevent the reoccurrence of the unpleasant stench. Use an air freshener or a disinfecting spray to give your car’s interior a nice fresh aroma. I personally like to scent my car with a humidifier and essential oils such as lavender and peppermint.

Read also: DIY Windshield Washer Fluid: Practical and Cost-Effective Solution for Cleaning Front Car Glass

Embedded image

Copy code to embed the image: Big picture: Small picture: BB-Code: