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How To Clean Dog Vomit from Cars: 3 Ideas & Tips

Written by: Kristin Hitchcock

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Dogster Team

cocker spaniel in the car

How To Clean Dog Vomit from Cars: 3 Ideas & Tips

Let’s be honest: the last thing we want our dogs to do is vomit in the car. Not only is it a mess that you have to clean up, but it is also a terrible smell in an enclosed space. You’re either going to have to tackle the scent right away, or you’ll need to drive around with your windows open for a while!

Of course, dogs do get car sick. Therefore, it isn’t at all odd for them to throw up in your car, and sometimes, vomit can leave an unsightly stain that can also dimmish the value of your car, especially if it is in good shape otherwise.

With that said, there are two ways you can clean up this mess: quickly while on the run and at home. If you decide to give it a quick clean-up while you’re still out and about, then you should do a more thorough job later.

We’ll take a look at both methods below.

divider-dog paw

The 3 Ways to Clean Dog Vomit From Your Car While Out & About

Materials: Paper towels, spray bottle, water, a plastic bag, disinfectant wipes

Of course, you may not have all the required materials in your car. If you’re just a few minutes from home, your best option is to run home and do the next option below. However, if you’re on vacation or won’t be home for a few hours, run to a convenience store and get what you need. Leave it in your car for future problems.

wiping car seat
Image Credit: Pakpoom Phummee, Shutterstock

1. Remove As Much Solid Matter as Possible

First, you’re going to pick up whatever solid vomit you can and place it into the plastic bag. Try not to smear it, as this will only rub it into your seat. Use a clean cloth every time to help you pick up as much as possible. Continue this process, using as many towels as you need, until it is mostly just the stain left.

2. Add Water

Next, you’re going to add water, using either a spray bottle or a bottle of water. Don’t be afraid to soak the area. Then, use a clean paper towel to blot the area, removing the water and vomit. Place the paper towels in the plastic bag as you use them so that you can easily throw everything away later.

If your car is leather, do not use water, as it will ruin it. Instead, you’ll need a special leather cleaner. Preferably, you should purchase a bottle of this stuff and leave it in your car for emergencies like this.

If the spot is hard to reach, you can wet the paper towel and use it to blot the stain. This doesn’t work quite as well, but it may be your best option for areas like between couch cushions.

woman holding a glass of water
Image Credit: Piqsels

3. Wipe with Disinfectant

Even if you get most of the vomit up, germs and bacteria may still grow—which can make the car smell quite unpleasant. We recommend using disinfectant wipes if they are available to clean vinyl and plastic. If your dog is sick, this is even more important.

As always, only use leather-safe products if your car has a leather interior.


The 5 Ways to Clean Dog Vomit From Your Car Once You’re Home

Materials: Bowl, dish soap, baking soda, hard-bristle brush, large plastic bag, cloth, paper towels, spray bottle, vacuum, water, vinegar

Now that you’re home, you can do a seriously deep clean on the stain. If you haven’t done the above steps, you’ll need to do a few extra steps. However, if you’ve done your best to clean up on the go and now, you’re doing extra cleaning at home, the process will be a bit simpler.

1. Remove the Solids

If you cleaned your car while on the go, you’ve already done this step. If not, you’ll need to use paper towels to remove as many of the solids as possible. Do not rub, as this can make the stain bigger. You can also try to blot the area to remove as much liquid as possible.

The more you remove from the stain, now, the easier the process will be later.

2. Add Water

Next, you want to add water. The water should help absorb whatever is left, which will make it easier to remove. You can directly add water with a cup or use a spray bottle. Don’t be afraid to saturate it.

Next, blot the area with a paper towel to remove as much of the water as possible. The vomit and stain should be coming up as well. However, if it is still stained or still smells, don’t worry. We have a few other tricks to try.

spraying car seat with water
Image By: Nomad_Soul, Shutterstock

3. Add Baking Soda

Once you have removed as much water as possible, add a thin layer of baking soda. You don’t need to heap it on (as only the baking soda touching the stain will help in the cleaning process), but you do want the area covered. Let the baking soda sit for a few hours or so. It should soak up the rest of the water and remove much of the smell, too.

Next, vacuum up the baking soda.

If you have a leather interior, skip this step. Baking soda may harm the leather.

4. Use Vinegar

If the stain or smell is still there, you can combat it effectively with vinegar. (However, your car will smell like vinegar for a bit. It should leave eventually, but plan to drive with the windows down for a bit.)

Simply fill up a water bottle halfway with dish soap, and then top it up with vinegar. White vinegar is best, but we have also used apple cider vinegar (which smells a bit better, to be honest).

Apply the vinegar liberally to the stain and let it sit for about ten minutes. Next, blot the stain with paper towels to remove as much as possible of the vinegar.

white vinegar on the wooden table top
Image By: focal point, Shutterstock

5. Rinse

Because we’ve used soap, you’ll also need to rinse the stain to remove the soap. Plus, this will also help you remove more of the vinegar and vomit, which will hopefully leave you with a nice, clean car. You can use a spray bottle or cup for this step.

Simply add water and then blot it up. Get it as dry as possible and then let it air dry. Once you’ve completed this step, your car should be very clean. Vinegar is a renowned cleaning solution, so it does a very good job.



While cleaning vomit from your car may seem impossible, it is actually pretty easy to do with just a few simple items that you have laying around the house. By utilizing the cleaning power of baking soda and vinegar, you can effectively remove the stain and smell of the vomit in this manner.

Plus, the above steps are pretty easy and don’t require any fancy tools. Therefore, you’ll likely not spend any money using the above cleaning method—and still end up with a rather clean car.

Featured Image Credit: Capecodprof, Pixabay

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