Lower the windows to air the car out before doing one of the cleaning methods below, then raise them during the treatment. You can use one more more of the methods to remove the smell.
The Enzyme Method
Enzyme odor removers can be found on the pet aisle of most supermarkets. These cleaners will work well on fabric upholstery, seat straps, or carpet. Be sure that the cleaner you choose specifically says it removes odors.
- Spray the area where the vomit was located with an enzyme odor remover, such as Kids N’ Pets. If the vomit was located on a seat, pour the cleaner onto the area (rather than spraying it on) so that it can soak as deep into the foam cushion as the vomit did.
- Let the enzyme odor remover dry.
- Repeat treatment as many times as necessary to remove the smell.
The Vinegar Method
White vinegar is a natural odor remover that can be found at almost every supermarket and is extremely cheap. For best results, use the 5% solution of vinegar, such as Heinz. This treatment will work well on fabric or leather upholstery, as well as carpet.
- Mix one part white vinegar with two parts water.
- Spray the area where the vomit was located with the mixture.
- Let the liquid dry.
- If the smell remains, repeat the treatment as many times as needed.
- If your seats are leather, clean the area with a leather cleaner afterward.
The Bowl Method
This method will work well for general odor removal regardless of the original vomit location. It can be used in addition to one of the above methods or on its own.
- Set a bowl of either white vinegar, coffee grounds, or activated charcoal in the car overnight. Keep in mind that if you use vinegar, the smell of the vinegar will disappear, however, if you use the coffee grounds, your car will likely smell like coffee for a while. For the coffee grounds and activated charcoal, about 5 tablespoons should be sufficient and a plate can be used instead of a bowl if preferred.
- Remove the bowl/plate in the morning.
- Repeat the process, replacing the bowl with a fresh one every morning and evening until the smell is gone. Do not reuse the deodorizer as it has absorbed the odor (i.e., throw away those coffee grounds, etc.).
- If you are not able to remove the vomit or clean off the area right away, cover it with baking soda. This will help to remove the smell until you can clean the area.
- Practical Household Uses of Vinegar by Margaret Briggs
- Baking Soda Solutions by M. B. Ryther
How long does the vinger smell last?
Once dry, the smell dissipates quickly. Drying the vinegar could take a while as the foam in car seats and carpet padding can take a long time to dry out. To ensure it dries quickly, only blot it onto the top of the seat (rather than pouring it on where it will soak down into the foam). Leaving the windows down and pointing a fan at the area can help it to dry more quickly as well. Good luck!
The only problem is the Time Factor involved!
I drive for Uber and a passenger vomited in my car. The time that these techniques take to be effective is costing me a lot more than the $150.00 cleaning fee that they gave me to get it clean and odor free again.