Not so delicious beer
November 13, 2009 2:57 PM   Subscribe

How do I remove the beer smell in my car?

So I was driving home from the store yesterday and a six-pack of beer fell over after a quick stop. One of the bottles broke and dumped most of a bottle of beer on the floor carpeting. I sopped up as much of it as I could, but there is still a strong beer smell. Regular all purpose household cleaner doesn't seem to be getting all of it. Any suggestions? Clean harder? Or is there a trick?
posted by y6y6y6 to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
You'll probably need to shampoo it with one of those carpet steamers, or take it to a professional detailer to get it cleaned.

I'll be intereted to see what others have to say.
posted by Decimask at 3:05 PM on November 13, 2009

Have you tried Febreze? What about dumping baking soda on it and letting it sit for a while, then vacuuming? I'm not sure they'd completely take out the smell of beer, since it tends to linger.
posted by runningwithscissors at 3:37 PM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

As a kid, we had a plastic tube o' ground beef rot and then explode in our minivan. It smelled very very bad for a while, but the smell was mostly gone after about 4 months. We shampoo'd as much as we could initially, then, over time, we whacked it repeatedly with some kind of carpet cleaning powder-- which I believe was "arm and hammer" brand, and was just baking soda with perfume in it.

Not sure whether that was the best possible strategy, but it all worked out, and since beer is probably a good order of magnitude less objectionable than rotten meat, and even that went away, I thought it might be an encouraging data point.
posted by blenderfish at 3:47 PM on November 13, 2009

I swear this works, but laugh if you want...

Steam it to get most of the yuck out. Then, buy a big bag of Craisins, open them up and place them in the rear window of your car (or somewhere else where sun can get to them), leave them open. Park your car somewhere where it will get warm and sunny.
posted by honeybee413 at 3:49 PM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you have a wet/dry vac, you can use is it, in wet mode, along with a bucket of hot, soapy water (or whatever type of cleaner you'd like). With the vac to suck up the water, you can really get in there and wash all the beer residue out. Obviously, you'll want to leave the car open (with a fan in it, if possible) to let it dry out afterwards.
posted by ssg at 4:27 PM on November 13, 2009

I've found leaving a couple sheets of fabric softener in my car overnight does wonders.
posted by mattholomew at 6:47 PM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

The problem with Febreeze and fabric sheets is that they are just going to add more smells to mask the current smells.

I vote for renting a wet/dry vac and putting some elbow grease into it.

Oh and if you have floor mats, you might want to just toss them and spring for new ones.
posted by radioamy at 7:08 PM on November 13, 2009

Lava Soap and some elbow grease helps. Use a used tooth brush and some water to brush it in, then with wet cloth, rub it to sop up more beer, then dry it over night with the windows down or during a sunny day leave the doors open to dry faster.
posted by icollectpurses at 7:29 PM on November 13, 2009

Along the line of ssg's suggestion: A "friend" to whom this happened went to a do-it-yourself car wash (the coin in a slot kind) and thoroughly washed the carpet with carwash shampoo, then used the vacuum to suck all the water out. Rinse and repeat as needed. It's probably not very good for the vacuum, so maybe don't do this.
posted by anadem at 8:30 PM on November 13, 2009

Underneath your carpet is a layer of padding that helps soundproof the floor of the car. This also goes by the name of sponge. When you spilled the beer, only a part of it went into (and stayed in) the carpet. The rest went into that sponge layer below. You can vacuum all you want and there will still be a significant amount of beer down below. Any time you close up the car (especially in the sun) some of that beer essence is going to come back up through the carpet.

The best, but probably not most feasible, solution is to take up the carpet, remove and replace the padding and reinstall the carpet. This can be done by a professional, but probably not by you. If you want a pro to do it, your local body shop can tell you where they send cars for carpet work.

A good DIY approach would be to obtain an odor neutralizer. There are several products on the market and they are fairly specialized. "Skunk Odor Neutralizer," for example, works on proteins. What you probably have are carbohydrates. Google for odor neutralizers and see what you come up with. Follow the manufacturer's instructions. What you want to do, though, is saturate the area where the beer spilled, wait an hour or two and then shop-vac it out. After you can't get any more moisture out with the shop-vac, put a small heater on the floor and heat the interior of the car to the temperature of your house. Don't overheat the car. Leave the windows open and let the rest of the humidity pass out of the car. After this, every time you drive and use the heater, use the "floor" setting so the heat helps drive off any residual moisture.

Oh, and don't get stopped by the police until the odor is gone!
posted by Old Geezer at 8:31 PM on November 13, 2009

In college someone spilled a Zima Gold in my car. (Zima Gold...the shame.)

What really got rid of the stench was parking the car in full sun and letting it cook itself away. Mop up as much as you can, but be prepared to wait/bake it out.
posted by 26.2 at 8:33 PM on November 13, 2009

Coffee grounds work well for absorbing odors. But then your car will smell like coffee.

This is not a bad thing.
posted by SLC Mom at 9:10 PM on November 13, 2009

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