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How to Clean Dog Vomit from a Car in 7 Easy Steps

car seats with stain

Dogs are excellent companions, so it’s natural to want to spend as much time with them as possible—even in the car. But you should be prepared for occasions when your dog vomits in the car. Dog vomit is pretty nasty stuff that can leave a foul odor in your car’s interior.

What can be done about it? Don’t worry. In this post, we will walk you through the seven steps to cleaning dog vomit from your car in the best way possible.

divider 5 What Do You Do Before You Get Home?

If you can, pull over and park. You will have to do this anyway when you get home. But if you can do it earlier, the better. You probably have some paper towels stacked somewhere on your dashboard. Use them to soak up the vomit. If you have a plastic bag on hand, use that instead of paper towels once they are all soaked up.

Once everything is cleaned up, take a couple of dryer sheets out of the package. Then, lay them on top of the area that was vomited on. You can also use a scented cloth. It’ll help mask the smell until you get home.

Do not drive around with your windows down or the heat/AC on high because this will make the smell worse.

Helpful Tip: Always keep a couple of re-sealable plastic bags in your car. This way, you can clean most dog vomit fast if your dog has an accident. It’ll keep the smell sealed as you get home and perform thorough cleaning.

black and white dog in a car
Photo Credit By: simpleclipsbyclicks, Pixabay

What Tools Do You Need?

  • Rubber gloves
  • Plastic bags
  • Baking soda
  • A hard-bristled brush
  • Paper towels
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Water
  • Special cleaner for leather surfaces (If there’s leather in your vehicle)
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • White vinegar
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Bowl

Step-By-Step Guide for Cleaning Dog Vomit from a Car

Dog vomit in the car can be a nightmare to clean. It may take longer to scrub, and you don’t want to use bleach for fear of damaging the car seats. So, instead of hating your life, try these quick and easy steps.

1. Remove Most of It

You may have removed most of the vomit before you got home. But if not, you will need to begin there.

Make sure you’re wearing rubber gloves. It ensures that the cleaning procedure is hygienic and won’t be messy for you.

If the dog vomit is dry and caked on, use a scooping spoon or a plastic bag to scoop it up. Turn the plastic bag inside out. Then, put it on.

If it’s wet and gooey, use a rag or paper towels to soak it up. Use blotting motion. This way, you won’t smear the vomit more in your car. You don’t have to get every little bit. But removing as much of the vomit as possible will make cleaning it up much easier.

dog vomit on car seat
Photo Credit By: Weerameth Weerachotewong, Shutterstock

2. Spray Using Water

Spray the vomit stain with water using a spray bottle. Wet the entire area to loosen the vomit up so that it’s easier to scrub off later. It also helps dilute any chemicals in the vomit, making it easier to remove.

Then, blot the spot using a desiccated paper towel. Ensure you’re switching to a clean part of the paper towel each time you blot.

Helpful Tip: If your car interior has leather, don’t use water as it’ll spoil it. Use special leather cleaners. You can get these cleaners at a local store nearby.

3. Sprinkle Baking Soda on the Affected Spot in Your Car

Sprinkling baking soda on and around the affected area neutralizes the dog vomit odor. If baking soda isn’t available, try coffee grounds instead if you have them handy.

For baking soda, sprinkle a generous amount for best results. Let it sit for several minutes before you go on to the next step. If you have leather surfaces in your car, skip this step.

baking soda
Photo Credit By: NatureFriend, Pixabay

4. Form a Cleaning Solution

Using a mixture of dishwashing soap and warm water is a good starting point when cleaning dog vomit stains. But you may need something stronger if there are lots of dried-up residues left behind after vacuuming up the vomit.

Mix half water and half white vinegar in a spray bottle. You may consider using two separate bottles of solution. Add one tablespoon of baking soda to the mix and shake well until baking soda is dissolved into a solution.

If you are using two bottles of water and vinegar, add baking soda directly to one of them. Apply the cleaning solution to the affected area.

5. Scrub the Dog Vomit Stain

For leather, dip a clean, soft-bristled brush or a lint cloth into the special leather cleaner, then scrub it into the stain in circular motions. If you have a deeper dog vomit stain, use a hard-bristled brush instead.

For other materials, use a lint cloth to scrub the stain with the solution you prepared in the previous step.

cropped man scrubbing the car seat
Image Credit: bogdanhoda, Shutterstock

6. Rinse Using Water

Use a spray bottle of water to rinse the spot. Then, using a dry lint-free cloth, wipe the moisture. After that, remove the remaining cleaning solution using a wet lint-free cloth.

The crucial part is to be sure that you are rinsing with clean water, not dirty water that has already been used to remove dog vomit. After rinsing, use a paper towel to absorb most of the liquid and then allow your car to dry out.

7. Blot the Spot

You can use a dry towel or a dry lint-free cloth to blot the cleaned area. Let the material desiccate once most of the moisture is removed. Use a fan or open the car’s windows for the material to dry fast.

gloves cleaning kit baking soda
Image Credit: Monfocus, Pixabay

What Can You Use To Remove The Dog Vomit Smell Out Of Your Car?

The smell of dog vomit can be a real nuisance. Not only will it linger in your car, but it can also be quite off-putting.

Luckily, there are several substances you can use to remove the smell of vomit from your car. We’ve outlined these below so that you can get rid of that nasty smell as fast as possible.

Remember that these will work after you have successfully cleaned the vomit.

Deodorizing Sprays

If you have a professional-strength deodorizer, spray it onto the stain. Then, let it sit for a few minutes before wiping away any residue left behind. You can also use odorous sprays to remove smells without harming your pet or yourself.

If you’re using an aerosol spray, open your windows or doors first to prevent them from getting overwhelmed by the smell.

Enzyme Cleaner

It’ll break down the proteins found in dog vomit, which could be causing the lingering odor in your vehicle. Allow the product to sit on the stain for 15 minutes before rinsing with water and drying with a towel.

spraying on the rug stain
Image Credit: Andrey_Popov, Shutterstock


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White Vinegar

White vinegar is a natural odor remover that you can use to remove the dog vomit smell from your car. It works by neutralizing the acid in vomit, causing an unpleasant odor.

Mix white vinegar with water in a spray bottle and spray into your car. Allow it to sit for about 30 minutes, and then wipe it down.

Dried Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds are not only excellent for making coffee but also for removing smells, especially those caused by pets. Coffee contains oil that has a pleasant scent, which removes the bad smell and covers it up with a great fragrance.

Place coffee grounds in a bowl and crush them with a spoon or other blunt object. You can also buy instant coffee for this purpose since it’s already crushed. Spread the crushed coffee grounds over the area where vomit was spilled, then vacuum it all up after 15 minutes.

coffee grounds
Image Credit: Martin Hetto, Pixabay

Air Freshener

An air freshener is an excellent way to mask the smell of dog vomit in your car. It’s inexpensive, and you can find it at almost any store. Remember that you’ll need to reapply it now and then if you want the vomit smell to stay away.

Use a pine tree freshener or other scents to overpower the odor of vomit. You can also use one with natural fragrances. This way, it won’t irritate sensitive noses.

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What Would Make a Dog Vomit in a Car?

There’s nothing more unfortunate than going out for a drive with your dog and ending up driving back home with vomit in your car. Dogs can get carsick, too. But why does this happen? Here are a few causes.

1. Inner Ear Development

Dogs get motion sickness the same way humans do. But, it’s more common in puppies because their inner ear development isn’t complete. So, they have no sense of balance. Rotation and vibration cause dizziness and nausea, resulting in vomiting. Many pups grow out of it as they mature.

The best way to reduce motion sickness is by taking short trips at first and increasing distance and duration gradually. Sitting up high helps some dogs, but others prefer a lower view.

Keep your dog far away from any car air fresheners or sweet-smelling things. Some dogs are sensitive to strong fragrances. It can make them sicker.

dog panting inside the car
Image Credit: TothFI, Pixabay

2. Improper Watering and Feeding

Watering dogs before a long trip is always an excellent idea. It’s because there may be long periods when you won’t be able to stop for water breaks.

But never water them right before leaving. It can make them feel nauseous and cause them to vomit within 30 minutes into the journey after taking it. It’s also an excellent idea not to feed them right before driving, as the car motion can cause them to vomit out of nausea.

Related Read: How to Get Dog Pee Smell Out of Car Seats: 7 Practical Options

3. Stress

Dogs are creatures of habit and routine. So, it’s no wonder that a sudden change of their environment from the comfort of their home to the interior of a vehicle can cause a bit of anxiety.

Anxiety can then lead to nausea and vomiting. If your dog is new to car travel, he may need time to adjust and get used to it before he can travel without getting sick.

Dogs are stressed about riding in the car, and many owners don’t realize it. For example, you may think that your dog loves going for rides, and then one day, they vomit in the car.

It’s a sign that the dog is stressed about being in the car even though he doesn’t show any signs of stress. You can try to reduce your dog’s stress level by going for short trips around town, like going to the pet store or visiting friends.

You can also talk to your vet about anti-anxiety medication that you can give your dog before a long car trip.

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Any car owner can clean up dog vomit from their vehicle with a little determination, patience, and attention to detail. The seven steps above will ensure you efficiently clean dog vomit in your car. They will also make things easier if the thought of cleaning dog vomit from your car makes you shudder.

While it’s not a pleasant task, remember that it’s better to clean it up now than leave it for several days. It’s because the stains and odor can get worse and be harder to remove.

Featured Image Credit: Checubus, Shutterstock


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