How to Clean a Milk Spill from Upholstery

April 28th, 2017 by

As a parent or grandparent, you cringe whenever the little ones are in your car with milk. You try to avoid it whenever possible because of how nasty it can get. The smell of sour milk is so off-putting and putrid that you’ll do whatever you can to avoid it. Inevitably, you’re going to encounter a milk spill on upholstery.

Normal cleaning methods don’t always remove the smell completely, leaving a lingering odor. You don’t need to just accept it and live with the stench. Here’s how you can clean a milk spill from car upholstery or carpeting.

Mop Up the Spill Quickly

A fast reaction will minimize the future offending scent. Use a cotton cloth and soak up the spilled milk as soon as you can. Dab at it instead of rubbing it – rubbing will push the milk deeper into the carpet or upholstery and make it harder to fully clean.

Remove any loose items like floor mats and wash them with soap and hot water.

Use a Steam Cleaner

Most effective when the milk is still damp, a steam cleaner will help to draw out any liquid and kill the bacteria that cause the rotten odor. You can rent a steam cleaner in many places including some self-serve car washes.

Use Baking Soda to Neutralize It

Liberally cover the affected area with baking soda. Let it sit for up to three days as it does its work. Vacuum up the baking soda and wait a few days to see if the smell comes back. If it does, retreat it with baking soda, and use a soft-bristled brush to work the powder deep into the fibers.

Spray the Milk Spill Area with an Enzyme Spray

Finish the milk spill cleanup with a thorough application of enzyme spray. The enzymes will break down the remaining bacteria to prevent that awful smell of spoiled milk, even on the hottest days. Keep it on hand — it often takes more than one treatment.


If you can’t seem to get rid of the smell yourself, it might be time to visit a professional detailer. They are experts at getting rid of stains and spills, including milk. And maybe you should consider a spill-proof cup…

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