If you can’t prevent food spills from spoiling in the car, use these tips to gently de-odorize and clean them.

Though you’re focused on cleaning your own or someone else’s home, the holidays tend to make our cars into a second home, especially for those who have to prepare a dish for dinner and then transport it somewhere else.

My holiday car rides have been redolent with 

  • green beans (juice splashed on turns)
  • tomato aspic (slid right off the plate on a hard stop), and
  • the turkey – the whole turkey – just popped right out of the pan when we hit a bump in the road and rolled around in the floorboard – juices and all.

[EasyDNNnewsToken:Left Justify Embed 300 x 250]Naturally, the best option is to prevent the spills from making it onto and into the upholstery of your car. You can do this pretty simply by laying out a trash bag in the floorboard or the back of the car and then opening up a cardboard box (you’ve probably got one already laying around from receiving orders in the mail) and laying out on top of that bag. It’s rare that the spills are large enough to penetrate a good shipping box and a protective plastic layer, and a decent airing out of the car will enable the de-odorizing.

But if you’ve forgotten your car prep, here are some things to remember when cleaning up fresh food spills in the car:

  1. clean it up ASAP – even 24 hours may be too long to wait on spills containing dairy or strong colors
  2. begin with the drying step – use old towels to soak up the excess liquid or goo of the spill before attempting to apply a stain or odor cleansing product
  3. remember that most foods are on the acid side, so a base pH product is likely to be most successful in cleaning stains; base pH is a pH ranging 8-14 (higher is stronger and sometimes more dangerous)
  4. test the product on a small corner (even if it doesn’t have a stain) to make sure it won’t damage the upholstery
  5. follow the application, soak time, and rinsing/removing directly VERY closely – more is NOT more effective or faster at achieving good results

For de-odorizing after cleaning, a good standby is to sprinkle a light dusting of fresh baking soda on the area, let dry, and vacuum up; this may take a few applications.

These tips make a great guide if you’re the host of that holiday dinner party and find similar messes on your carpet. If you are unsure whether a product may damage various types of carpet, be sure to look for an IICRC certified firm in carpet care as your go-to recommended carpet cleaner.