Car was parked up fro 3 months or so and it seems there was food decomposing in it during this period. I could see the food not sure what it was but it was all decomposed like with green bits in it etc.

Any had a mini valet done and the visible stuff has been wiped up however the smell is still there when windows are closed. When I open windows it is less noticeable. May not be just seats which are affected, but could also be carpetsand fibers at top of car etc.

Its a kind of mouldy, mildew vinegarish smell.

I spray it down with vinegar however smell came back.

Can you suggest how to clean it out, if it is a mildew type smell I would imagine vinegar can fix it, maybe I need to soak the fabrics in vinegar rather then just spray and go over with a microfiber cloth?

Also I'm not sure if it's available, are generic leather seats covers available for cars? Rather than change seats, maybe I could just put the covers on and that will stop the smell from spreading.

3 Answers 3


If the fluids soaked through the fabric into the cushion underneath then the best option is to replace the complete seat.

New from dealer will be expensive, but cheaper option, and probably most effective, is to visit a scrap yard...

Covering the tainted seat covers with other seat covers will only lead to the smell appearing on hot days or as people compress the seat cushion, forcing smelly air out, as they sit on them...

Pay your money and take your choice...

  • it wasnt fluid it was decomposed food, chips maybe. Jan 21, 2019 at 11:24
  • So chips don't have moisture in them?...
    – Solar Mike
    Jan 21, 2019 at 11:26
  • Assuming you mean chips as in chunky deep-fried potatoes then you do have moisture and oil.
    – GdD
    Jan 21, 2019 at 12:53

The easiest, cheapest way to remove food smell from a vehicle is to use an ozone generator. Not only will it remove food smells, it will remove all smells. It doesn't mask the smell, but rather destroys it. It also destroys bacteria and whatever other living organisms which might be lurking ... this includes you! Don't breathe the ozone, as it will destroy lung tissue. Allow the vehicle to clear after generator use (at least 30 minutes).

Before you use the generator, though, you need to clean out as much of the offending food as possible. If that means removing the seats to get to the carpet underneath, that's what you do. If you don't remove the food remnants, the smell will come back as soon as it starts decomposing again. A good scrub and a vacuum will go a long way. I have a small portable carpet cleaner I use, which works on the carpet and upholstery (cloth, but not leather). Wipe leather clean, then using the generator will clear it of any smells.


Soak the fabrics with a 50/50 mixture of ammonia and water. I have also eliminated odors by spraying fabrics with hydrogen peroxide (available in drug stores).

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