How To Clean And Remove Vomit (And The Smell) From Car Seat

From personal experience, car sickness can be a real bummer.

Even more of a disappointment is if someone vomits in your car as a result of it!

What’s more, it’s possible that even with the vomit removed, that the smell may remain.

It is imperative to move quickly if someone vomits in your car!

Continue reading down below to learn how to clean and remove commit and the smell from a car seat.

What You’ll Need

Now that you have assembled the items you need, continue reading for step-by-step instructions on how to clean and remove vomit (and the smell) from car seat.

1. Remove Any Solids

Once you know there is vomit in your car seat; you need to remove it immediately.

The acidic nature of the stomach bile in the vomit can damage the interior of your car.

Using a spatula or thick paper towels, remove any solid vomit matter from the car seat. 

2. Remove Moisture

Next, once the solids have been removed, use a clean cloth or new paper towel to absorb any moisture from the vomit.

Be sure not to press too hard into the car seat.

If you push too hard on the car seat, you may be pressing the vomit further into the surfaces beneath the top layer.

3. Sprinkle Baking Soda

After removing the solids and moisture from the car seat, apply a very thick layer of baking soda on the vomit stain.

Doing this will help absorb any remaining moisture of the vomit and help to deodorize the car seat, and remove the vomit smell from your car.

4. Let Sit And Vacuum 

Let the baking soda sit on the car seat for about half an hour.

If it is a more prominent vomit stain, consider letting it sit for a more extended period.

Then take a vacuum and vacuum up all of the baking soda. 

5. Make A Liquid Cleaning Solution 

Depending on what material your car seats are made of, you will be making a liquid cleaning solution.

If you already have a cleaning solution for your car seats, feel free to use that.

If your car seats are made of leather upholstery, you can make a paste of three parts baking soda and one part warm water. 

If you have vinyl, cloth, plastic, or carpet upholstery in your car, you can make a solution of one part white vinegar and ½ teaspoon of dishwashing liquid.

Then stir this mixture thoroughly.

6. Scrub Stain With Solution 

Using whichever solution you made or already had, apply it to the vomit stain in your car and scrub the stain.

Depending on the location and material of your car’s interior, you can use a clean cloth or bristle brush to scrub the vomit stain.

7. Rinse With Water 

Once you have scrubbed the vomit stain, rinse out the area to remove the remainder of the liquid cleaning solution.

For the leather interior, you will want to use a clean damp cloth, but do not have it be too wet.

If you have vinyl or plastic you can have a wetter cloth.

You do not want to add more liquid to the interior of your car.

Consider using a spray bottle to control the amount of water you are spraying on your car seats.

Continue rinsing with water to remove all of the cleaning solutions.

Check the cloth to ensure that stain is removed and that the upholstery no longer has the cleaning solution.

8. Blot Area Dry 

Using a dry cloth, begin to blot the area.

Doing this will speed up the drying process and double-check that all of the vomit stain and cleaning solutions have been removed from your car seats.

9. Open Doors To Dry

To speed the drying process even more and air out and fumes from the cleaning solutions, open the doors and windows to the car.

Leave them open until the spot is completely dry. 

If you cannot leave your car doors open, consider using a fan or a hairdryer to speed up the drying process.

Video Instructions

  • Step 1 (:27) — Remove solids
  • Step 2 (:39) — Remove moisture
  • Step 3 (:54) — Sprinkle baking soda
  • Step 4 (1:02) — Let sit and vacuum
  • Step 5 (1:08) — Make a liquid cleaning solution
  • Step 6 (1:39) — Scrub stain with solution
  • Step 7 (1:55) — Rinse with water
  • Step 8 (2:21) — Blot area dry
  • Step 9 (2:39) — Open doors to dry


How Do I Remove Dried Vomit From A Car Seat?

If you could not address the vomit immediately or somehow did not know that someone vomited in your car, you can still remove the vomit stain and smell from your vehicle.

The first thing is to remove as much of the solids as you can while they are dry.

Use the spatula to remove the solids.

Then, you will need to loosen the dried vomit that did not come off by spraying some water to re-moisten the vomit stain.

Don’t overwater this, as you will face the same wetness problem seen in the steps above.

Even though the area may be less wet than fresh, you will not want to skip the baking soda step.

This part of the process will be essential to remove the smell of the vomit. 

Does The Smell Of Vomit Eventually Go Away?

Technically, yes, it will eventually go away.

The smell, however, will linger and may even be exasperated depending upon the climate you live in.

If the odor remains, continue to use baking soda to absorb the smell.

You can either apply it to the spot again, leave it, and then eventually vacuum it up, or you can choose to leave a dish or container of baking soda in the car to work to absorb the smell continuously.

Be sure to check out our related article dedicated to showing how to remove vomit stains from a sink.