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How to Get the Smell of Vomit Out of Your Car

Image Source: Thinkstock
Image Source: Thinkstock

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So here’s “the setup:” I was taking my boys on an all day car ride through the badlands of Alberta. Much geocaching and hunting of dinosaurs was planned. But after only 30 minutes on the road, my youngest coughed and handed me the iPad from the backseat. (I believe in iPads, not minivans with built in DVD players). It looked like snot, smelled like vomit, and my fears were realized as I turned around to hand him back his cleaned device.

A worried little munchkin was letting his breakfast fly all over the back seat.

I pulled over, stripped him, tossed him back in the carseat to take back home. The car was a little rank, and so instead of a day chasing treasure, I packed my oldest back in the car for a visit to the detailer to clean out the smell. About three minutes away from the autoshop, my son burped from the backseat and said “Daddy, I just puked a bit in my mouth, but it’s okay. I swallowed it.” I honestly didn’t think anything of it, until two blocks later when he was letting it go in waves while I was stuck at a red light.
Apart from a little spit up, neither of my boys had ever vomited in their lives before. We’ve skipped serious flu bugs, and even this time neither was particularly buggy, our fingers pointing to some suspect yogurt as the cause of the crime. Now, in the span of 30 minutes they had both let the fur fly, and it was all over the cloth back seat of my 2012 Hyundai Elantra.

I blasted it to the car detailer, handed over the keys, and my credit card. Four hours and $320 later I got my car back. But the work wasn’t done. The car was clean, but the smell was still there.

How do you get the smell of vomit out of your car? Let’s run you down all the things I’ve done this week.

1. Blanket

First things first: always have a blanket or some other protection under the car seats in the back seat.

2. Detailing

The detailers did an amazing job; my car looked almost brand new after they had gone after it. Sure, it was $320, but it was clean, and I didn’t have to do it.

3. Windows Down

Drive around with the windows down. It will help air things out, and you need to air things out.

4. Vinegar

My wife left a cup of vinegar in the cup holder overnight; apparently, an open bowl of vinegar is a common household remedy for stinky kitchen smells. Unfortunately, it didn’t really work in the car, but it’s worth a shot, right?

5. Febreeze

My wife must have dumped an entire bottle of it on my back seats.

6. Dryer Sheets

I don’t know why, but I have three dryer sheets in my back seat right now. (Desperate times call for desperate measures.)

7. Odor Bomb

I have yet to try this one, but the “odor bomb” — available on Amazon — was a popular suggestion from various online sites.

8. New Car

When I posted my problem to Twitter, one of the first responses I got was “get a new car.” Okay, it was bad, but the list of things has either worked or I’m numb to the smell. Regardless, I can’t afford $20k on a new ride. That said, if you can, maybe it’s time to spring for a new ride.

Article Posted 4 years Ago

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