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Cleaning Sour Milk Smell in a Car

Category Auto
When milk is accidentally spilt in the car, it can make for a persistent odor. This guide is about cleaning sour milk smell in a car.


Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

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December 8, 2010

How do I remove odor from milk spilled on car floor mats?

By Lori

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March 1, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

After spilling milk in my car, I had a terrible time removing the odor, even after several attempts with carpet cleaning and Febreze. The only thing that worked was a cleaner I purchased at a vacuum cleaner store. The carpet cleaner contained enzymes to neutralize odors. I thoroughly sprayed the entire area, waited a day or two and then shampooed the carpeting. No odors at all!

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September 18, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

My toddler spilled his milk in the car and it left a terrible smell. I tried Natures Miracle (enzyme cleaner) and Febreze which didn't work. The only thing that worked was wet vac, then a baking soda and vinegar paste left overnight with the windows cracked open, then wet vac again in the morning, then baking soda and wet vac one more time. No smell, thankfully!

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1 found this helpful
January 8, 2011

My grandchild spilled milk a couple of months ago in my husband's truck. Is there any way to totally remove the smell? He thinks he needs to get a new truck!

By FBell from Atlanta, GA

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January 8, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

First you have to be sure all the milk is cleaned from the carpet/upholstery. You can rent a steam cleaner at the grocery store if you don' t have one, or cannot borrow one. (Or, you could take the truck for a detailing.) You may need to go over it twice!

Once you know that the source of the odor is gone, you can deal with the residual odor with any of the methods people have mentioned in other posts. My personal favorite is coffee grounds, but kitty litter, baking soda, citrus, enzymatic (pet odor) eliminators, or the like caan work. Close up the truck, put the odor absorber/eliminator inside, and let it sit for a day or two.

Good luck!

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January 11, 20110 found this helpful

I am sure by now you have scrubbed and cleaned the best you can. With everything you can think of, but use the cheapest shaving cream you can find. Yeap, you heard me correctly - shaving cream. Scrub it into the carpet really good with a clean cloth. DO NOT wet the carpet first.

Just put the shaving cream on the carpet, and start scrubbing. Then after a few minutes of scrubbing, walk away for a little while. Let it dry for a little while. Vacuum, then sprinkle the area with baking soda. Let that sit for a while, and then vacuum that up. The longer the baking soda sits, the better. It really soaks up all that odor really well, as does the shaving cream. Shaving cream is great on so many stains on carpet in your home also. I did this when my grandson threw up in our truck, and it worked really well.


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August 2, 20140 found this helpful

I left milk in car for 2 days. It smells awful, how do I get this smell out of car?

By denisevmason

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August 3, 20140 found this helpful

Put an unpeeled banana under driver's seat and leave it for a week. Or put some unused coffee grounds in a bowl under the driver's seat. The fresh unused coffee is also great to keep odors out of the fridge and freezer.

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March 26, 20160 found this helpful

Get 7up and pour it all over The affected area let it dry then vacuum up

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January 19, 20130 found this helpful

A faulty gallon milk jug leaked a whole jug into the car's carpet. I have been trying to clean it since the leak occurred over a month ago. It still smells really bad, like something "died".

By LaRinda

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January 21, 20130 found this helpful

Purchase some of the charcoal they use in fish tank filters and sprinkle that in the area where the milk was spilled and leave it for a few days. It will absorb the odor. I have done this and it does work. If you can't find the charcoal, just wad up some old newpapers (not the colored ads) and put them on top of the area and after a few days the smell should be gone as well. If using the newpapers you might want to weigh them down with something heavy.

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January 22, 20130 found this helpful

The problem may be that it has soaked through to the padding and the floor underneath. Putting something on top will not always take care of the problem. My suggestion would be to make a solution of baking soda and water, thin enough to penetrate the carpet and padding. Then put a fan facing the spot and allow to dry completely. Vacuum the spot thoroughly when dry. It may take a couple of applications, but this should work.

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June 26, 20130 found this helpful

I have split cream in my car. I have tried remedies (vinegar and warm water, car spray, am now trying Gram's remedy powder for toe jams) to try and get that smell out. Helpful hints will be appreciated.


By Dulcie

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January 20, 20170 found this helpful

I'm looking for a remedy myself but I just wanted to say that, ever since I can remember, I've wanted to name my daughter, Dulcie. I have no idea where I got it from but I've always wanted to have a lil girl just so I could name her Dulcie and I've never met anyone with that name before and when I saw that it was yours, I just had say something. I love it!!!

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December 13, 20040 found this helpful

My wife bought a gallon of milk which spilled in the car on the carpet in the passenger seat. Fortunately, we live in a cold climate state. What should I do to prevent the milk smell from coming up?


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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

March 7, 20110 found this helpful

My wife bought a gallon of milk which spilled in the car on the carpet in the passenger seat. Fortunately, we live in a cold climate state. What should I do to prevent the milk smell from coming up?



Cleaning Milk Stain In Car

I had the same problem once, but it was summer... rotten milk in the car was not a good thing! I soaked up as much as i could and then scrubbed at the carpet with one of those foam carpet cleaners (like Shout). It took a few applications, but helped a lot. (12/13/2004)

Cleaning Milk Stain In Car

A cheap easy carpet cleaner is seltzer water, saturate and use a wet/dry vac or upholstery wand of a carpet cleaner to pick up, repeat several times then use lemon water or vinegar water to neutralize any remaining odor. The odor of the solution will disappear when dry. (12/20/2004)

By Barbie

Cleaning Milk Stain In Car

Put lots of open envelopes filled with coffee grounds in the car and leave them there for a week or two. (01/06/2005)

By k

Cleaning Milk Stain In Car

You have to pull the carpet back and make sure to clean the insulation underneath. In order to do this you may have to unscrew the trim and/or pull up the trim being held by clips. Once you've cleaned the insulation w/ a strong deodorizer cleaner leave the carpet w/ a gap and point a fan right on it. If that doesn't do the trick go rent an ionizer, that will pull the smell from anything. (01/10/2005)

By Seth

A Cure for Spilled Sour Milk

I recently spilled chocolate milk in my car. It was awful. However I got rid of the smell permanently. I saturated the carpet with water and used old towels to soak it up several times. Letting it dry and doing it again the next day. Then I used (Natures Miracle) you can buy this at any pet store. Following the directions I put this in the area of the smell and it is like I never had a problem. If it worked for me I hope I can help someone else out.

By Victoria

Cleaning Milk Stain In Car

Just poor white distilled vinegar directly onto the spill area, and when it evaporates, the soured milk smell and the vinegar smell will be gone. Sounds too simple, I know, but after using every cleaner available for a milk spill on our living room carpet, I promise, this really does work!

By Deanna

Cleaning Milk Stain In Car

I was on my motorcycle one day and went by the store and picked up a gallon of milk, put it in my saddle bag (I have a Police Road King so it has hard bags). When I took the milk in the house I saw that the bottom was leaking a little bit so luckily I had a large enough container to pour it into. I didn't think about the milk sitting in the bottom of my saddle bag until several days later when my husband pulled it off to look at something on my bike. He asked me why the bag smelled like sour milk.

We live in Florida and as you can imagine, the smell was really bad! I removed the bag, washed it out with soap, let it dry but the smell was still there. I used bleach and the smell didn't go away. I later remembered that white vinegar removes odors so I wiped the bag down with a vinegar soaked rag and left the rag in there for several days. The smell went away and now the bag smells like a fresh salad! Just kidding.

I swear by using vinegar. My husband thinks I'm nuts because last night I boiled two cups of white vinegar in a frying pan that always made food stick. I boiled it for ten minutes, cooked summer squash with a little olive oil and it never stuck to the pan. I'm glad I found out about that remedy because I paid $25.00 for the pan. The house smelled like a wine distillery for awhile but from what I read, vinegar also 'cleans' the air in your house. (01/13/2006)

By Anonymous

Cleaning Milk Stain In Car

Well, i have a spilled milk stain in my house, but I am getting desperate, so I read this post.

First of all, do not put baking soda in your car's carpet. I had a leak in my car roof last summer, and the carpet got wet and mildewed. I thought baking soda would do the trick, but now I have baking soda stains in the carpet. It's all white and weird looking. I have had the carpet cleaned by a car detail shop, but the stains are still there. The good side of this is, we found the leak and put sealant on it, and my car isn't wet and smelly anymore!

Secondly, vinegar? Deanna, I don't know how this worked for you. I thought of this with our spilled milk in the house. I know vinegar removes a lot of smells. So I poured vinegar directly on the milk stain and let it sit all day. Then I washed, scrubbed, used detergent and water ... you name it. Now, our family room smells like very sour milk. Consider what happens to fresh milk when you put vinegar in it. Now consider what happens to a sour milk stain when you soak it in vinegar. My husband came home and said "Wow, the smell is worse!"

So, I am at a standstill. I guess our 20 year old carpet has had it anyway, so maybe I'll just rub baking soda into the stain and hope that it doesn't turn too white. =)

Editor's Note: The baking soda and vinegar should make some fizzing and the vinegar should remove the baking soda stain. I found out the hard way that putting baking soda on something wet doesn't work very well. One thing you could try when the stain is dry is borax. Rub that in, then vacuum out. It should help remove the smell. (06/02/2006)

By G.B.

Cleaning Milk Stain In Car

I have one child with a lot a friends, cousins and animals. Use Oxy clean to get the stain out. try to do it right away if possible. To get the smell out use a product called Damp Rid, no special tricks just follow the directions on the box. It can be found cleaner department at your local Target or Walmart. A lot of auto stores carry it. I hope my advice helps. (07/13/2006)

By need it neat

Cleaning Milk Stain In Car

Spilled very milky coffee in car but couldn't see exactly where it went, so I blotted up up the area with a small towel and went on my merry way. I thought maybe the damage wasn't too bad, but a few days later when I next used the car the milk had spoiled. Naturally, it was a huge mug of coffee and I'd only taken a couple of swigs. Today I attempted to clean the area with dish soap and hot water - splashed on enough soapy water to be able to scrub it with a scrub brush, after which I repeatedly blotted up the resulting coffee-colored soup with damp wash cloths.

This is actually the second time a milky coffee spill has occurred. I can't quite remember what I used in the clean-up phase last time, but in the odor-removal phase I used a product called "Odorzout," which is granules of a mineral called zeolite. After cleaning the area and allowing it to dry, you sprinkle on a layer of zeolite and leave for at least 24 hours, then vacuum it out. It got out about 75% of the odor, which came and went on a schedule of its own. I've made a list of everyone's solutions, which I'll be trying one by one until I get rid of the problem entirely.

Cleaning Milk Stain In Car

Update: After cleaning a milky-coffee spill with dish washing detergent & water, then letting it dry (as I described in an earlier post), I opted for further ablutions with an protein-based enzyme solution other people mentioned using. I had to apply this twice before it got rid of the smell. Used a product called "Petzyme," which I thoroughly drenched the car carpet with, then allowed it to dry. Says on the packaging you should blot up the excess after 10+ minutes, but since the smell remained after the first time I used it, the second time I didn't blot up the excess, just let it soak in and dry over a two-day period. Left car windows open so it wouldn't mildew.

Petzyme seems to come in two varieties - I used the one with a green label, not the pink and purple label -- the latter has a revoltingly strong perfumey odor, whereas the green-labeled Petzyme smells a bit citrusy and more neutral. Incredibly, this stuff took care of the problem!

By Kimi

Cleaning Milk Smell in Car

I found the solution! The smell was so bad I could smell it before I opened the door. I tried, vinegar, baking soda, pet cleaner. No luck. When I used each of these I soaked the area, let sit and then rinsed with water and shop vacuumed the water up.
It still stunk!

I then used a light solution of bleach and water (10:1) and it worked. I let it sit for a while and was aware that I might change the color of the carpet. at that point I didn't care since it smelt so bad.
I also coated the whole carpet on in the back seat floor so it if faded it would all fade. It didn't fade and the smell is gone. This happened around a year ago. Bleach can change the color of your carpet. test first but it was better then spending 100's on new carpet. I found this site when I researched the first time. Good luck! I will never leave milk in the car again! I have also found that White vinegar and baking soda works well on carpet stains. It worked for me in a rental house better than the bought stuff.

You sprinkle and brush in soda and then pour on vinegar. it bubbles but it's worked for me. I let it sit and then rinse and suck up water with shop vac.

By thrifty gal

Cleaning Milk Stain In Car

I had the same thing happen. A whole gallon of milk exploded in the back of my van. I used a steam cleaner, Oxyclean, baking soda (which made the smell WORSE in my opinion). I just called a detail shop to see what they reccomended, and they told me to saturate the area really good with rubbing alcohol, rinse that out with the steam cleaner, then clean it again with plain water, making sure to get it really dry. We'll see if it works. (09/26/2007)

By Rachel

Cleaning Milk Stain In Car

The same thing happened to me: exploded milk in my car. I read many of the posts and was getting very discouraged but tried the one that made the most sense.
1. of course, get up what you can, the curd.
2. pour generous amount of Petzyme, available at Petsmart. The one with the aqua label has best scent.
3. let it stay on for 10 minutes or so.
4. get a wet-vac and suck up all the dampness.
I probably did this for 10 minutes. Most of the sour milk was on the carpet and I did not want any chance of mildew--so I wet-vacuumed for a long time.
5. I had a small clip on fan (7 in) that I was able to attach to a box in my car. I let this run overnight.
6. If it still smells, reapply Petzyme. and re vaccum.
I promise it will work!

I really thought I was going to have to sell the car, but this really, really worked. Good luck, but you must have a wet/dry vacuum. I got mine a Target for about 50.00. It is the small one. Don't forget to really rinse out the hose and the filter when done. (09/29/2007)

By Margaret.

Cleaning Milk Stain In Car

My granddaughter spilled some milk on the rear seat of my car. I wasn't aware of it until a few days later because it went down the hole where the seat belts come out of and onto the mat that is between the bottom of the seat and the metal car floor. By then the smell was gross. I pulled out the rear seat and spread baking soda on the mat and let it sit overnight but it didn't help.

A co-worker of my wife informed her that she had the same problem in the past and here's what always worked for her - Coffee Beans! Just spread coffee beans over the area and let it sit overnight. It smells great and absorbs all the sour smell. I spread coffee beans over the mat, replaced the seat on top of the beans and kept it there for three days and then vacuumed them up. It works. The car smells great. You have to use beans, not ground coffee.

Editor's Note: Ground coffee also works well. (11/27/2007)

By Harvey

Cleaning Milk Stain In Car

Try vinegar. This really cuts through the sour smell. I used it on my carpet in the house and it worked. (09/05/2008)

Cleaning Milk Stain In Car

I appreciate all the tips and still working on my spill. FYI. One thing I noticed is once I lifted up trim and some carpet to see where excess liquid may go from my backseat floor spill. My truck leans toward the front and liquids accumulate in track and sits there, under door trim and flow to front carpet by doors. If your cleaning hasn't worked, perhaps milk spill spread to different area, you didn't clean! Hopefully this helps someone. (03/02/2010)

By gustabuster

Cleaning Milk Stain In Car

Here's how I got rid of the smell. Note: there is a risk of this method resulting in increased stench! Also, this involves cutting the carpet (albeit under the floor mat), so if you have a new car then you may not want to try this.

First, I removed all floor mats to expose the bare carpet. Then I poured clean water around the same area where the milk was spilled (try one cup at a time). I then tapped around the floor carpet to find areas where the water pooled. The main area where the water pools, you'll see a wet spot emerge, and this can be quite far away from the area where you poured water (a couple of feet in my case). Determine the largest area that you can cut where the cut line will not show after you put back your floor mat. Also, do not completely cut out the area. Make it so that it will open like a flap. The open-end should ideally be below the seat or some other plastic molding of your car interior.

Cut (or try pulling the carpet from below the molding) along those lines. This can be tough, and careful with that blade. You have to cut through the carpet, and also through the thick padding (about 3/4 inch thick). Once you open the flap, you will immediately notice the stench coming from the thick padding. You will realize that it is almost impossible to go that deep with steam vac or anything by cleaning just the surface of the carpet. Once you have the flap open, with your blade, separate the padding from the carpet. Thoroughly clean the padding with running water, squeeze dry, and let it dry outside (or in your garage somewhere).

Close the flap, with a very damp towel, rub the carpet-side of the flap. Use a dry towel to dry. Open the flap. With a very damp towel, clean the area below the flap and underneath the flap. Check if stench is coming from nearby (you can check under the padding by lifting). If so, cut out the padding and clean with damp towel, etc. With a small fan, dry the area thoroughly. Apply Febreeze (this is what I tried) around the general area if needed. Get some old newspapers and stack them up below the flap, and close the flap. Apply Febreeze over the flap, and around the general area. Keep the windows open so that strong Febreeze odor can escape. Hope this helps. (12/04/2010)

By cephalo

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

January 8, 20110 found this helpful

How do I get soured milk out of the carpet in a car? We left a gallon of milk in a back of a SUV for 3 weeks and it turned green and exploded in the back of the car. How do I get the smell out?


December 8, 20100 found this helpful

My husband spilled milk in the car and did not tell me. The stink is overwhelming. I need help as I cannot even get into the car without feeling nauseous.


December 1, 20100 found this helpful

After endless hours and many different methods, I think I finally got the soured milk out of my car seats with white vinegar and lemon juice mixed together and sprayed on the area where the milk was spilled.


November 8, 20100 found this helpful

How do I get a spilled milk odor out of my car?


August 2, 20100 found this helpful

A large amount of milk spilled on my carpet in my car. It now stinks. How can I get rid of the odor?


January 26, 20100 found this helpful

How do I get a milk spill out of my car?


January 12, 20100 found this helpful

How can I get sour milk smell out of my car?


February 25, 20090 found this helpful

I left three half gallons of milk in my truck by accident. Naturally in 10 degree weather they all broke.


June 30, 20080 found this helpful
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February 14, 20070 found this helpful
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September 15, 20060 found this helpful
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August 28, 20060 found this helpful
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