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How to Remove Odor from Car?

removing-odor-from-carJust about anyone with children, pets, or friends who drink alcohol has been tasked at some point with the unpleasant act of attempting to remove the lingering odor of vomit from their car. It is not especially easy removing odor from a car interiors, where the porous upholstery and enclosed space create a perfect environment for the development of lingering unpleasant scents.

However, this is something millions of people deal with every year. Vomit has been getting in cars since they were invented. Because of this, there has been much time throughout human history to perfect the skills needed to remove odor from car upholstery, one step at a time.

  1. Removing the Offensive SubstanceThe very first step in disbursing this noxious odor is to remove the original source. Obviously you want to get rid of any remaining vomit, using a clean rag with cold water and a bucket. Clearly you want to do this with gloves on and if your stomach is weak, you may want to find someone else to do it or proceed carefully.

    Once you have removed all solids and the first layer of the stain, you should attempt to blot as much moisture and oil from the area as possible. After this, you will need to work at removing whatever stain is left behind.

  2. Cleaning the StainThe next thing that you want to do is to work at removing the leftover stain. To preserve the integrity of the upholstery fabric, you do not want to use any heat or harmful cleaning agents when you attempt to remove the first layer of the stain. Though some people swear by using a mix of ammonia and water, vinegar and cold water seems to do just as well and is far less toxic.

    The typical recipe for vinegar cleansing is one part vinegar per one part water. So for every half-gallon of water, add a half-gallon of vinegar.

  3. ScrubbingUse a mix of warm water and vinegar to scrub the stain with a soft sponge. You want to make sure that the sponge is as dry as possible, so make sure you are rinsing it out well before each scrubbing session. If it is extremely wet, you could make the issue worse by causing more odor-causing liquid to trip into the padded interior that lies beneath your car’s upholstery.

    You may need to rinse and ring out the sponge several times before you make headway in removing the stain. It often takes a great deal of elbow grease to remove stains, especially if it was left to sit for a while.

  4. Airing OutOnce you have thoroughly cleaned the area where the incident took place, you will need to air your car out for some time. Nothing is going to remove odor from car interior better than a good airing, preferably in a warm, natural environment. Of course, if it is the dead of winter and snowing, this may not be an option. If this is the case, leaving a bowl of vinegar and water in the backseat for several hours, will help to remove some of the lingering odor. Another, often less messy option, is leaving a small, slightly-opened container of baking soda somewhere in the vehicle. Though, it will not get rid of the bacteria left behind nor will it likely work to completely destroy the scent, but you can attempt to mask it with any number of commercial air freshening products.
  5. Alternative OptionIf the gentle scrubbing, cleaning, and airing out method does not manage to eradicate the heinous smell left behind, you might need to consider a professionally detailing option.

5 Responses to “How to Remove Odor from Car?”

  1. […] – A more specific product for odor elimination and disinfectant. Odoban works well to take out the smoke smell in a car but not […]

  2. This is good advice. The first rule of odor removal is to remove the source of the odor, just like you suggest. If you can’t remove the source of the odor, then you will never be able to remove the odor itself. No amount of covering it up will make it go away. If you can’t do it yourself use a professional whether it is carpet in your car or carpet cleaning in your home.

  3. […] To improve the general smell of your car, you can sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on the car seats, the carpets, and the floor mats. Let it sit for hours, or maybe a day, before vacuuming it all up. Baking soda will absorb the bad smells of your car and leave it smelling fresh again. You can repeat the process over and over until you finally get rid of that bad smell. […]

  4. […] recently bought a pre-owened vehicle, one of the first things you would notice is the vehicle’s distinct odor. New cars have this shiny, unspoiled, just-unwrapped smell to them, unlike second-hand cars. The […]

  5. […] the same time, steam can remove odor from car, leaving you with an interior that smells clean, fresh and safe. You can even perform engine steam […]


January 2012
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