Today: what's the best way to clean up some... vomit?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Mar 01, 2010

Dear Tom and Ray:

A passenger in my son's Toyota Tacoma truck did not get his head all the way out of the window prior to vomiting. The exterior and the interior of the truck have been detailed, but the smell lingers. When the window is rolled up, it comes up with a smear --leading us to believe vomit got inside the door frame. How can this be cleaned? Remove the door panel? Pour water into the door frame via the window opening? What do you suggest?

-- Janice

RAY: A flame-thrower.

TOM: Why do people write to us with stuff like this? Do we not comport ourselves with sufficient dignity when answering questions about exhaust odors?

RAY: Apparently not. I agree with your assessment, Janice. It sounds like the unpleasant substance is now inside the hollow of the door.

TOM: We'll give you the easy solution first. On the outside of the door, where the window meets the door frame, there's a rubber flap that's designed to keep water from pouring down into the door.

RAY: But water can go down there without causing any harm. So, with the window up and the door open, take a spatula that you're never going to use again to flip pancakes, and pull back that flap. If there's anything on the flap, wipe it off, and then pour a little soap and a bunch of water down there. You can even let your garden hose run in there for a while. There are tiny drain holes at the bottom of the door, and the water eventually will run out.

TOM: And if you're very lucky, the bulk of the "un-beverage" will be on the outside of the window, or down at the bottom of the door, and the soap and water will wash it away, or at least dilute it.

RAY: Unlikely.

TOM: Yeah. Since the flap is there, the rejected lunch material probably went down the inside of the window. And you can't pour water down the inside of the window, because you could ruin the inside door panel.

RAY: So you'll have to pull that door panel off -- it's held on by a bunch of clips. Once you remove it, you'll see the whole window mechanism. And probably some puke. From there, you can clean off whatever needs to be cleaned, and spray the whole area with disinfectant.

TOM: And then try to put the door panel back on before YOU puke in there.

RAY: If all of this sounds too disgusting for you to handle, you can always take the truck to a body shop, and they can remove the door panel and clean the door cavity for you. They have respirators they use when they paint cars, which would come in very handy.

TOM: Or just go to a junkyard and buy a new door. That's what I'd do! Good luck, Janice.

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