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How to Get Rid of a Milk Smell in Your Car

Last Updated on August 19, 2022 by

Bad Milk Smell in a Car

If you have babies or infants, chances are milk is a staple of your weekly budget. Even if you don’t, you might like a bit of milk in your tea or coffee from the Starbucks or independent tea shop you frequent for that jolt of caffeine to get you going in the morning. Whether it’s babies’ bottles or your own empty Styrofoam cups that are the source of that old milk smell in your car, however, you know it’s not one you want to keep around.

Once milk turns, it turns bad, and once that happens, it’s enough to leave your passengers wrinkling their noses and ready to retch. You naturally don’t want things to ever get that far, which is why you need to take action. There’s “no use crying over spilt milk,” but there’s no good in letting it sit and spoil either, which is why you’ll want to follow these tips for cleaning up the spills and getting rid of the horrible after-smells.

1. Clean up Spills

This really should go without saying, but unless anyone needed any further prompting, please – clean up those spills! Don’t just let them sit there! Milk goes bad notoriously quickly, and does so even faster in high heat.

“But maybe the spilt milk smell won’t be that bad?”

Don’t hold your breath (and perhaps hold your nose).

Pat down the spills and soak them up, and make sure you do so all the way.

2. Remove the Source

Whatever you have ​spilt your milk upon – for example, a mat – should be removed from the vehicle. The longer you keep it in there, the longer the smell will linger. What’s more, it isn’t as though cars are famous for their easy contours for cleaning purposes.

3. Air Out the Car

If you have ever had to deal with an “unfortunate odour” in your car (no questions asked), you’ll know that the worst possible thing you can do is to leave the doors and windows open. With the vehicle sealed off, the odour will linger in there for hours, perhaps even days. You naturally don’t want that to happen, which is why you need to make sure that you air out your car as quickly as possible.

If your vehicle is parked, open the doors. If you are still on the road, you should probably be keeping your eyes on the road rather than cleaning up spills. However, one thing you can do while on the road is crack the windows.

4. Put Them in the Washing Machine

While your car is airing out and once you have removed the mats from your car, it is time to clean the source of the smell, and that means washing the mats. Now there are several ways of doing this depending on what you are cleaning. In keeping with our use of mats as a spilt milk test case, we’ll go ahead and start there, which means you’ll want to put these in the washing machine and set it on a nice long warm rinse.

How long and what type of cycle will vary from washer-to-washer. UK washing machines are notorious for taking a long time, too (at least compared to their North American counterparts), so this isn’t a step you’ll want to take just a couple hours before you need those mats back in the car again.

Once the mat has been washed, let it air dry for a while. Again, if you live in the UK, you’re likely all too familiar with draping clothes over heaters to get them to dry faster, and that’s certainly called for here.

5. Clean Spills on Seats

Let’s say instead of a mat you’ve ​spilt on the seat, what then? If you have ​spilt on a seat cover, you’ll still want to try and get it out of the car as quickly as possible. If this is not possible, you’ll want to clean it up as quickly as possible with a cloth or similarly absorbent material. In a pinch, a paper towel might suffice, but if you can, you’ll want to use a chamois or other cloth as these are more absorbent.

In either case, you should soak up the spill as best as possible before proceeding to damp the spot and clean it with soap and water. If you fail to do this, some of the milk will continue to seep deeper into the fibres, where the spoilage and stench will continue to fester.

Ideally, you should be able to use a stain remover. If you do not have one handy, some water and vinegar may be able to help as a stopgap measure.

6. Use a Wet Vacuum

To get wet stains out, you need a vacuum that is up to the task. A specialised wet vacuum may be necessary to suck up the deepest stains and particulates. If you have a steam cleaner, this might work well too if you have special cleaning agents with which to use it with.

7. Expertise Matters

As you might be able to tell, there’s quite a bit more to soaking up and getting rid of that nasty spilt milk smell than just dabbing it lightly. If you can’t get rid of the smell on your own, you may need to call for expert help.

There are plenty of professional upholstery cleaning agencies who have the tools and expertise necessary to help get rid of that spoilt spilt milk smell. What’s more, they can often get rid of the stains and the foul odour resulting from it a lot faster than you can.

If the spill’s large, serious, and particularly upsetting, you might want to consider calling an expert car cleaner and letting them get rid of the odour once and for all.

There are plenty of steps you can take to clean and air out your car and free it from that spoilt spilt milk smell. As long as you don’t ignore the problem and take action, you’re taking a step in the right direction, and your nose and those of your fellow passengers will thank you for it.