How to Get Rid of the Smell of Spilt Milk

How to Get Rid of the Smell of Spilt Milk

Sour milk is one of the worst smells to have lingering around your home or car. Luckily, there’s no need to cry over spilt milk with these odour-removal tips!

To get rid of the smell of spilt milk, you should soak up the immediate spill with a clean, dry cloth or paper towel. If the soiled item is washable, get it in the washing machine on a cold cycle as soon as possible! Otherwise, use cold water and a dash of laundry detergent to break down the milk proteins.

Then, cover the affected area with bicarbonate of soda, leaving it overnight to work. Vacuum up the powder the next day.

I’ll describe more tips for lifting the smell of spilt milk throughout the rest of this article, detailing alternative substances for absorbing the smell of sour milk. I’ll also recommend a few products for cleaning up both the stain and the smell from spilt milk.

1. Wash the Soiled Item in the Washing Machine

wash spilt milk soiled item in washing machine

Milk is a protein-based stain, which means it’ll be further set in if you wash it with warm water.

You’ll need to keep cool in this situation and wash the affected item in your washing machine using a cold cycle. You should also use a laundry detergent with a pleasant scent.

Odour-lifting detergent recommendations

Sour milk is a strong smell, so you’ll need a powerful detergent to replace it with something nicer on the nostrils.

We’ve already covered the best smelling laundry detergents in the UK, but allow me to serve up the highlights.

  1. Surf Vibrant Clean and Fresh is a super-concentrated blast of floral scent that’ll linger on your laundry for days after washing. This detergent even imparts its smell at low temperatures, which is essential for treating your milk-imbued item. 
  2. Ecover Concentrated Non-Bio Laundry Liquid is the eco-friendly contender among great-smelling detergents. Producing a strong lavender and sandalwood fragrance, this environmentally-conscious laundry liquid works at 30-degree temperatures, eliminating foul odours.
  3. Fairy Non-Bio Pods offer a milder alternative for masking a milky smell. These pods are gentle on the skin and offer a pleasant scent that won’t overpower you. Fairy detergent is proven to work on 30-degree washes, which is perfect for milk-related fumbles.


2. Use Bicarbonate of Soda

using bicarbonate of soda to remove spilt milk smell

As mentioned above, bicarbonate of soda is a go-to for removing protein-based stains and their odours.

Sprinkle this household baking product over a dried milk stain and let it sit overnight – or longer, if possible; you can leave bicarbonate of soda on a stain for up to four days for maximum odour removal.

Vacuum up the bicarbonate of soda and (hopefully) notice the distinct lack of a vomit-inducing sour milk scent.


3. Use White Vinegar

You just know that white vinegar is going to make an appearance in a cleaning article. This common household item loves eating up protein-based stains, same as bicarbonate of soda.

Dilute your white vinegar in a spray bottle, using one-fifth of vinegar and four-fifths of water. Spray the affected area until it’s soaked with the vinegar solution, then leave it to work for five hours. Pat the area dry with a clean, dry cloth.


4. Use Coffee Grounds

use of coffee grounds to remove smell of spilt milk

Don’t have bicarbonate of soda, or just love the smell of coffee? Regardless, coffee grounds should work similarly to lift the smell of spilt milk and replace it with the rich aroma of roasted coffee beans.

Season a dried milk stain with coffee grounds, then leave it overnight or longer, and vacuum up the grounds and breathe in a far nicer smell.


5. Use Charcoal

Charcoal loves absorbing impurities in the air, leading to the use of charcoal filters in air purifiers.

Let charcoal eat away at a milky odour by sprinkling it in the spillage zone and leaving it overnight (or longer). It won’t replace the smell, but it will remove it.

You can find charcoal by its other name – activated carbon – available for purchase as small granules for use in fish tank filters. Here are some relatively inexpensive charcoal sachets.


6. Use an Enzyme Spray

Most commonly marketed for car interiors, enzyme sprays will work anywhere there’s a protein-based stain that can’t be put through the washing machine.

Wage biological warfare on your spilt milk odour by applying an enzyme spray on the affected area. Follow the directions on the product – you may need to dilute the solution or apply it more than once.

Enzyme spray recommendations

Let me introduce you to some trustworthy enzyme sprays.

  1. ValetPRO Enzyme Odour Eater Spray is designed to destroy the source of organic odours. It’ll work a treat on milk, according to most reviewers, and it’ll also banish the smells produced by vomit, blood, mould, tea, and pets. 
  2. VANISH Pet Expert Oxi Action Spray is marketed towards removing odours and stains produced by pets, but as an enzyme cleaner it’ll clean up a milk stain and odour nicely. 
  3. Attitude Laundry Stain Remover is engineered to remove stubborn, odour-producing stains from your laundry in a natural and eco-friendly way. Just spray some onto your clothes before washing them to gently ease out that milk stain without damaging your fabrics.As a simple enzyme-based product, I’d imagine this spray could work on non-machine-washable fabrics, but I can’t say that for certain. Regardless, the reviews are glowing!


7. Air Out the Area

air out area to get rid of smell of spilt milk

This one might be obvious, but it helps to air out an odour and let it be blown away naturally.

Crack open a window or leave the door open for a while. If you’ve got an extractor fan or air purifier, turn it on. The stench of sour milk will be gone with the wind.



Absorb most of your spilt milk with dry paper towels or cloths. If the item is machine-washable, put it on a cold cycle with a good detergent to remove the stain and odour. You can also try pre-treating the stain with this natural laundry stain remover spray.

Once the stain is dry, you can start treating it with common household products. Take your pick between bicarbonate of soda, diluted white vinegar, coffee grounds, or charcoal.

Try using an enzyme spray if the above methods are unusable – these are particularly good for your car and will work on all biological stains.

Finally, remember to air out the area using an open window or door; use an air purifier or extractor fan if you have one. The smell from your milk spill is as good as gone!