How Long Does Vomit Smell Last in Car?

Generally, with prompt and thorough cleaning, the smell can dissipate within 1-3 days. However, in cases of extensive spills or inadequate cleaning, the odor may persist for 7 days or longer.

The duration of vomit smell in a car can vary based on several factors, and pinpointing an exact timeframe is challenging due to the variability of these elements. 

  • Prompt and Thorough Cleaning:

Duration: 1-3 days

If you clean up the vomit quickly and thoroughly and take the proper steps, the smell can often go away within one to three days.

  • Moderate Cleaning Effort:

Duration: 3-7 days

With a moderate cleaning effort, where the cleaning process is less immediate or comprehensive, the smell may persist for approximately three to seven days.

  • Incomplete Cleaning or Delayed Action:

Duration: 7-14 days

In cases of incomplete cleaning or delayed action, the vomit smell may linger for an extended period, ranging from seven to fourteen days.

  • Extensive Spill or Inadequate Cleaning:

Duration: 7+ days

For extensive vomit spills or inadequate cleaning efforts, the smell may persist for an extended period, possibly exceeding fourteen days.

Factors Influencing the Lastingness of Vomiting

Factors Influencing the Lastingness of Vomiting

Several factors influence how long vomit smells linger in a car, and understanding these variables is crucial for effective odor removal. The duration can vary significantly based on the following factors:

Spill Extent:

The volume of the vomit spill plays a significant role. A larger spill may saturate more areas, potentially extending the time it takes for the smell to dissipate.

  • Small Spill (Localized):

Duration: 1-3 days

If you promptly and thoroughly clean up a small, localized vomit spill, you can typically expect the smell to dissipate within one to three days.

  • Moderate Spill (Larger Area):

Duration: 3-7 days

A moderate spill affecting a larger area may require more comprehensive cleaning and ventilation. The smell may linger for approximately three to seven days in such cases.

  • Large Spill (Multiple Surfaces):

Duration: 7-14 days

The odor removal process may extend to around seven to fourteen days for a substantial vomit spill that saturates multiple surfaces, especially porous materials.

  • Extensive Spill (Deep Penetration):

Duration: 7+ days

In instances of an extremely extensive spill, where vomit deeply penetrates materials or reaches hard-to-access areas, the smell may persist for an extended period, possibly exceeding fourteen days.

Cleaning Effectiveness:

The effectiveness of the cleaning measures taken significantly influences the duration of the vomit smell in a car. Let’s break down the impact of cleaning effectiveness on the duration of the smell with some numerical information:

  • Thorough Cleaning:

If you clean up the vomit quickly using specialized cleaning agents, you might notice the smell diminishing within 1 to 3 days.

For instance, a comprehensive cleaning process could result in a 70-80% reduction in odor within the first 24 hours.

  • Surface Type:

Porous surfaces like fabric and carpet may retain odors more stubbornly, requiring more meticulous cleaning.

Effective cleaning on porous surfaces can lead to a noticeable reduction in smell within 2 to 5 days.

  • Cleaning Products:

The use of odor-neutralizing cleaning products can significantly impact the duration of the smell.

Quality products may lead to a 60-70% reduction in odor within the first 48 hours.

  • Professional Cleaning Services:

Engaging professional cleaning services can expedite the removal of odors.

Professional cleaning may result in an 80-90% reduction in smell within the first 24 hours.

Ventilation and Air Circulation:

Adequate ventilation during and after cleaning can further enhance the effectiveness of the process.

If you ensure good ventilation, you can experience a 50-60% reduction in smell within the initial 12 hours.

Car Interior Materials:

The type of materials in the car’s interior can impact odor absorption. Fabric seats and carpets may retain smells longer than leather or other non-porous surfaces.

The type of car interior materials can influence how long vomit smells last. Here’s an overview of how different materials may impact the duration:

  • Leather Interior:

Duration: 1-3 days

Vomit smells tend to dissipate more quickly in cars with leather interiors. Prompt and thorough cleaning can often eliminate odor within one to three days.

  • Fabric Seats and Carpets:

Duration: 3-7 days

Porous materials like fabric seats and carpets may absorb odors more readily. The smell may persist for a slightly longer duration, typically ranging from three to seven days.

  • Plastic or Vinyl Surfaces:

Duration: 1-5 days

Non-porous materials like plastic or vinyl surfaces tend to resist odor absorption. Smells may dissipate relatively quickly, typically within one to five days.

  • Combination of Materials:

Duration: 5-10 days

Cars with a combination of materials may experience a moderate duration for odor removal, ranging from five to ten days, depending on the overall cleaning effectiveness.

Temperature and Humidity:

Environmental conditions also matter. Higher temperatures and humidity levels can prolong the time it takes for odors to dissipate, while well-ventilated, dry conditions expedite the process.

Hot and humid conditions can make vomit smells last longer in a car. The Temperature and humidity affect how quickly the odor goes away.

High Temperature (above 80°F/27°C):

  • The smell might persist for 7 to 14 days or even longer in warm conditions.
  • For instance, at 90°F (32°C), the duration could extend towards the upper end of this range.

Low Temperature (below 50°F/10°C):

  • The smell may linger in colder conditions for 14 days to several weeks.
  • At 40°F (4°C), the duration might lean toward the longer end of this range.

High Humidity (above 70% RH):

  • Elevated humidity can extend the persistence of the smell, with a range of 14 days to several weeks.
  • For instance, at 80% relative humidity, the smell might last for an extended period.

Low Humidity (below 30% RH):

  • Dry conditions may expedite the evaporation of odorous compounds, resulting in a shorter duration.
  • The smell may dissipate within 2 to 7 days, especially in very dry conditions.

Prompt Cleaning:

  • Cleaning immediately after the incident can significantly reduce the duration of the smell.
  • With swift and thorough cleaning, the smell may diminish within 1 to 5 days.


  • Adequate ventilation is crucial for odor elimination. Opening windows, using fans, and allowing fresh air circulation help disperse odors more quickly.
  • Adequate ventilation can help disperse odors more rapidly.
  • In well-ventilated conditions, the smell may decrease within 3 to 7 days.

Immediate Cleanup techniques

Immediate Cleanup techniques Vomit in Car

Immediate cleanup after a vomit incident is crucial to minimize odor and potential damage to the car interior. Here’s a step-by-step guide for prompt and effective cleanup:

Step 1: Act Quickly

Time is of the essence. Begin the cleanup process as soon as possible to prevent the vomit from seeping into upholstery, carpeting, and other surfaces.

Step 2: Gather Supplies

  • Collect the necessary cleaning supplies, including:
  • Disposable gloves
  • Plastic bags for solid waste disposal
  • Paper towels or disposable rags
  • Enzymatic cleaner, vinegar, or a commercial vomit cleaner
  • Baking soda
  • Plastic scraper or spatula (for solid matter)
  • Trash bag

Step 3: Ventilation

Open your car doors and windows to let fresh air in and help with ventilation. This helps reduce the intensity of odors during cleanup.

Step 4: Solid Waste Removal

Put on disposable gloves to protect your hands. Carefully remove any solid matter using a plastic scraper or spatula. Place the solid waste in a plastic bag for disposal.

Step 5: Blot Excess Liquid

Use paper towels or disposable rags to blot up as much liquid as possible. Avoid rubbing or spreading the vomit to prevent it from reaching deeper into the surfaces.

Step 6: Pre-treat with Baking Soda

Put baking soda on the stinky spot. It absorbs odors and helps neutralize the acidic components in vomit.

Step 7: Apply Cleaning Solution

Make a mix of an enzymatic cleaner, vinegar, or a commercial vomit cleaner as directed. Apply the solution generously to the malodorous area, ensuring thorough coverage. Use a clean cloth or sponge for the application.

Step 8: Scrub Gently

Carefully clean the area where the vomit touched with a soft brush or cloth. Don’t scrub too hard to keep the surfaces safe from damage.

Step 9: Absorb Excess Moisture

After scrubbing, use paper towels or clean rags to absorb excess moisture. Press down on the area to encourage absorption.

Step 10: Repeat if Necessary

If the smell persists, repeat the cleaning process. Stubborn odors may require multiple cleaning sessions.

Step 11: Air Dry

Allow the cleaned area to air dry thoroughly. Keep doors and windows open to enhance ventilation during the drying process.

Step 12: Use Odor Neutralizers

After the area is dry, consider using odor neutralizers or fresheners specifically designed for cars to eliminate lingering smells.

Step 13: Dispose of Cleaning Materials

Dispose of used paper towels, rags, and any disposable materials in a sealed trash bag.

Step 14: Wash Hands

Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after completing the cleanup.

Prompt and thorough cleanup is essential to mitigate the impact of a vomit incident on your car’s interior. Following these steps can help minimize odors and potential long-term damage.


Does sunlight help eliminate vomit odor in a car?

Yes, allowing the car to air out in sunlight can help reduce odors, but thorough cleaning is still necessary.

How can I prevent vomit smells from lingering in my car?

Act quickly, clean thoroughly and consider using odor-absorbing materials like activated charcoal or baking soda in the car.

Is professional detailing necessary to remove vomit odor?

While professional detailing can be effective, prompt and thorough cleaning with household products can often eliminate the smell.

Can the vomit smell persist even after cleaning?

Sometimes, lingering smells may require multiple cleaning sessions or professional help for complete removal.

What if the vomit smell persists after cleaning?

Reassess the affected areas, consider using different cleaning products, and ensure proper ventilation to address any remaining odor.

Can I use home remedies like vinegar to eliminate vomit smells?

Yes, a solution of vinegar and water can effectively neutralize odors, but it ensures proper ventilation due to the strong smell of vinegar.

Should I replace the car’s interior if the vomit smell persists?

Complete replacement is rarely necessary; thorough cleaning, proper ventilation, and persistence with odor-eliminating methods are usually sufficient.

How can I prevent future vomit smells in my car?

Keep a small cleaning kit in your car, address spills promptly, and consider using seat covers or protective mats to minimize potential odors.


In summary, cleaning up vomit in a car quickly and carefully is really important. Get rid of the yucky stuff immediately, use the right cleaning stuff, and ensure the air gets in to help. 

The main idea is to eliminate the bad smell, whether it’s special cleaners or things like vinegar. If you do these cleaning steps immediately, you make your car inside smell nice again.