Removing Rotten Food Odors From a Car

A photo of a car.

If some food gets forgotten or spilled in a car, it can leave behind a disgusting smell. This guide is about removing rotten food odors from a car.



Here are questions related to Removing Rotten Food Odors From a Car.

Question: Getting Rotten Meat Smell out of the Car?

My husband accidently forgot chicken breasts in the car after coming back from the grocery store. We realized that when the car started smelling real bad. We used car freshners, and also left the car open a couple of times, but it didn't work. Now every time we sit in the car, it smells horribly bad. Any ideas to get rid of the smell will be appreciated. - Gina

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Most Recent Answer

By Alicia [6] 08/20/2012

Enzyme pet stain spray. Just buy tge large refill and put it in your own spray bottle. It's about $13 at walmart, but I would bet that this would work better than anything else. Just thoroughly saturate the carpet. You can always spray it more than once. Maybe once a day, or twice a day.

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Question: Rotting Meat Smell in Car

I need help! I let me mother use my car this past week and when I got it back I smelled something awful coming from the back of the vehicle. I went back to investigate and there I found a tub of liver that had been left there for 5 days and had exploded all over the back of the car. It smells so bad I can barely stand to try and clean it.

I've tried EVERYTHING I can think of to get the smell out of the car, but nothing is working. I just read the article about the mice and the use of borox. I cleaned out the car totally, but some of the blood got into the carpet, and I am guessing that is what is smelling so terribly bad.

I scrubbed it with some household carpet cleaners. I don't want to end up having to pull up the carpet, but I fear that might be my only option. I'm in Texas, so it's quite hot right now. I don't know if the smell is ever going to leave, but I can't stand to get into the vehicle. Any ideas on how to get rid of the smell would be greatly appreciated.



Most Recent Answer

By Kathryn Visser [18]09/14/2009

One time when I suddenly had one horrible smell in my car, and I slowly found out that a gallon of milk had leaked into my trunk, and my daughter didn't tell me about it. The only thing that worked to get rid of that smell was white vinegar poured until the carpeting was soaking with the vinegar, and I left the trunk lid open for several days, and when it dried, it looked perfectly fine, and no smell since.

Question: Rotten Tomato In Car

I had a tomato spoil while under the seat of my car (not sure how it got there). After I removed the tomato, there was some juice that had soaked into the carpet. I tried carpet cleaner but couldn't get to the spot. I then tried pouring white vinegar on the area. The vinegar neutralized the smell for the most part, but not completely. And now I have a vinegar smell in the car--not good but better than the rotten tomato. My question - how do I get rid of the vinegar smell and any lingering rotten tomato smell? Thanks in advance for your help.


Most Recent Answer

By Marie [1]06/03/2008

Baking soda absolutely. Let stay overnight. But you must vacuum it or the smell will remain.

Question: Rotting Fish Smell in a Car

How do I get stinky fish smell out of my minivan?

By leilauni from Red Bud, IL

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Most Recent Answer

By Diane [15] 08/03/2010

Just go to the place where they sell supplies for fish tanks. Get some charcoal the kind they use in the pump thingie. Then spread it around where the smell is the worst and leave it there for a few days. It will get rid of any smell. I had someone spill milk in my car and it sat for a few days in the hot sun. The charcoal got rid of it leaving no more smell. Hope this helps you.

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Question: Cleaning Spoiled Food Odor from Car

I spilled red beans in my truck all over the floor! I got it all cleaned up and poured water on the carpet to rinse the bean juice out, but it got more down in the carpet. It is also under the trim around the door. If has left this rotton sour smell, worse than a dead mouse lol! I have tried vinegar, lemon, and ammonia cleaner, nothing will take the smell out. I gag everytime I get in it. I need help! What can I use?

    By mamaw1130 [1]

    Most Recent Answer

    By Jenny08/30/2015

    The last used car we bought had this sour smell inside. It belonged to a young lady who apparently spilled a lot of coffee with milk in the front and back seat. When we bought the car, we could see no stain and could smell only the air freshener hanging inside. I have a little green clean machine and my son and I spent at least 3 hours using it to clean with ammonia water over and over and over again. We were very surprised at how long it took until the water removed had no color. When we were finished, we pulled it in the garage and opened all the windows until it was completely dry. The smell was mostly gone. We put socks filled with coffee grounds under the seats (a tip from a friend) and the sour smell eventually went away. When people apply water or cleaner without using suction to remove it, it just pushes the stain source deeper in. Then the soap and particles get trapped under the carpet. This is true with household carpet as well. You can get a Bissel Little Green Clean Machine (which is what we have) for cheap on their website--call and ask if they have any refurbished ones--which are drastically discounted. This will be cheaper than taking it to the dealer even once--even if you have to pay full price off of Amazon. This machine will come in handy in the future for sure. You may also try an enzyme product such as Nature's Miracle (found in pet stores) which removes all organic stains and odors including food, vomit, feces, smoke, etc. I would try the ammonia water combo in the machine first and finish up with the Nature's Miracle. That stuff is amazing, but it can't work properly if there are still food particles trapped under the carpet. Also, when I need a fresh smell in the car, I put an unwrapped bar of soap under the seat. The soap doesn't melt like other products and you can use it in the shower when it loses it's potency. I like the peppermint castile bar soap for this.

    Question: Rotten Seafood Smell in Car

    Someone put a fish in my car under the seat on the carpet and it baked in the heat of the Florida sun for a day. How can I get the smell out?

    By Brian from Winter Haven, FL

    Most Recent Answer

    By Samantha [1]03/25/2011

    I had something similar happen to my car. After my car was cleaned, I used lemon juice in the car. Placed in a bowl close to the smell. I closed the windows for a couple of hours. After that, open your car doors and windows and let it air out.

    I think I remember mixing the lemon juice with water and rubbing it directly on the seat of my car. Luckily it was the back seat. If you do this, test it on a spot that is not so obvious.

    I had to repeat this process about 4 times. Now I can't tell it was ever there.

    Hope this works for you.

    Question: Cabbage Smell on Car Seat

    I recently cooked a big pan of cabbage at my mom's. I had to transport it on the cloth seat of my Cruze. With that being said, as I went to grab it out when I got to my home I realized the seat was wet. That is when I knew I was in for it because I learned about cooking it with vinegar for the smell to stay down. So now I have a funky smell inside my vehicle. I tried getting it shampooed and that didn't work so now I need help and an actual solution. Please help.

      By Chrissylacylove [1]

      Most Recent Answer

      By Judy Berkey K. [1]09/17/2015

      I would purchase a gallon of Odo-ban from either Home depot or another home improvement store. I use it full strength in a spray bottle to rid odors in my rentals between tenants.

      Question: Raw Chicken Liquid on Carpet in Car

      My husband spilled raw chicken juice on the carpet of our car and now it sells horrible. How do I get the smell out?

      By Amy A

      Most Recent Answer

      By Janice Ruth M.10/20/2014

      I want to know how to clean a turkey soup spill in my car on the carpet.

      Question: Removing Rotten Food Odor from Truck

      I am embarrassed to admit this, but my truck smells like rotted food and wet dog (don't ask). I have bought air freshener after air freshener. I have vacuumed and thoroughly cleaned the truck, but the smell lingers. It's making me a little crazy because my truck is clean, but still smells dirty!

      By Mary S.

      Most Recent Answer

      By Cindy [3]07/23/2012

      Okay Mary. This is going to sound totally beyond belief, but if you are desperate it might be worth considering.

      I honestly can't remember where we found this hint, but after one of our very ill, huge breed dogs (think huge breed "bladder") peed & soiled the carpet, interior and leather seats of our Jeep as we were transporting him to the vet hospital, someone suggested drenching the carpet with wintergreen scented rubbing alcohol. (I didn't even know such a product existed, but it can be found near the regular rubbing alcohol in our local Walmart.)

      Not to worry. The dog survived the medical incident - thank goodness. Yet our main vehicle smelled worse than an uber ignored litter box in a house with many, many cats. Because our dog only peed mainly on the cargo area carpet with only random sprays of urine on the leather seats and cargo walls, we doused the carpet area with full strength wintergreen scented rubbing alcohol and used a water diluted mix to wipe down the rest of the interior.

      Then, as per directions we read on the internet source of which I can not remember, we kept the windows open for 24 hours to air out and evaporate the rubbing alcohol. The Jeep smelled like Wintergreen Certs Candy Mints for a week or so, but the urine smell completely disappeared in less than 24 hours.

      I suspect this has more to do with the mix of urine and rubbing alcohol than it does with dirty dog smell and spoiled food, but it did not hurt the carpet nor did the diluted solution we used to wipe down the seat backs or interior leave any lasting reminders and the awful order went away quickly.

      Again, just something to consider if you can't get rotten food and dirty dog smells out of the vehicle. Use at your discretion, only (and follow a better suggestion if you can find such) but it just might help disperse the odors if you can't find a better solution. Gotta love the doggies - dirty smells and all! (Not gonna ask about the rotten food! hee hee!) Good Luck in cleaning your truck! :)

      Question: Removing Rotten Meat Odor From Car

      Some meat got left in our van for 5 nights. There is no sign of leakage, but the smell is horrendous. How can I remove the smell from the air, or do I need to just wash the carpet?

      By bugpie

      Most Recent Answer

      By Regina Forbes [2]09/26/2010

      I put charcoal on some newpaper and left it over night. The next day I replaced the charcoal with another batch and left it overnight. Then I bought some red apples and cut in quarters and put under the seat. To my surprise it worked! Now when I want to refresh my car I put more apples!!

      Question: Removing Smell of Rotten Potatoes from Car Seat

      I left potatoes on my fabric car seat. I have tried cleaning it, but the smell is still there. I have tried cleaner for cars and Febreze. Nothing. Please help.

      By Mary C.

      Question: Removing Odor From Car Carpet

      How do I get the spilled fish smell out of my car carpet? It stinks bad.

      By Shell D.

      Question: Removing Fish Smell in SUV

      I was transporting a pan of fish and took a turn too fast and some of the juices spilled. How do we get the fish smell out? Thank you.

      By Loretta S

      Question: Getting Rid of Odor of Rotten Bait in Car

      Stink bait was left in the trunk of my car for two days in 90 degree weather, how do I get the smell out?

      By Lynn S.

      Question: Removing Fish Smell from Car Carpet

      I had some liquid from a bag containing prawns drip on the carpet in my car.

      By Natalie S.

      Question: Cleaning Tuna Juice from Car Seat

      Tuna juice from my lunch box leaked onto my front seat.

      By Debbie

      Question: Removing the Odor of Spoiled Food from Car

      I was helping a friend out a few years back and transported posole to a fund raiser and though we tried to level the trays, the juices spilled onto back seat and also in the space between where the back meets the seat. I've had the car detailed and the seats and rugs cleaned a few different times, but anytime the weather is damp or I run the car through a car wash, I get this awful, sour smell. It is similar to when I've let a meat dish go past bad to "oh my word" in the fridge. My fear is there is nothing that can be done since the part that I assume needs to be cleaned is out of reach unless there is some way to remove the back seats. Any ideas are welcome!

      By Donna B.

      Question: Removing Spoiled Peach Juice Odor from Car Seat

      I babysit my little cousin and he spilled his can of peaches on my car seat and now my car smells like rotten food. How can I get rid of the smell?

      By Jackie

      Question: Removing Rotten Meat Smell from Car

      I went grocery shopping on Saturday and didn't realize I left a package of pork chops in my van until 3 days later. It has been sitting there in 90 degree weather. And the smell is unbearable. Please help!

      By Lacy

      Question: Removing Squid Smell from Car

      My boyfriend and I go fishing almost everyday with squid. From putting it in my trunk when we go, my car now has this over powering squid smell. I live in Florida so when its hot it's so much worse. I need to know a way to get it out. I've tried air fresheners and airing it out. Someone please give me another idea.

      By samy

      Question: Health Issues from Rotten Meat Odor in Car

      Some hamburger and a plastic bag with raddishes were left in my car for 4-5 very hot days, (car was under a carport). It was one of those cubes you buy in meat departments.


      Question: Spoiled Food Odor in Car

      How do I get rid of the smell of raw chicken left in the car for 5 days?


      Solutions: Removing Rotten Food Odors From a Car

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