Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Show & Tell: The Car-Barf Cleanup Kit

These days the big diaper bag mostly stays in the trunk and I instead carry with me a smaller bag full of essentials like diapers, sippy cups and a bag of Goldfish. Also in this bag is my Car-Barf Cleanup Kit.

My oldest daughter, now 3-and-a-half, frequently threw up in the car when she was younger. It was almost always on the way to daycare and uncannily, more often than not on a Monday. I started to wonder if she could actually be that smart and capable of throwing up at will to get out of a day at daycare. We would drive 40 minutes or so in hellish Seattle traffic, drive up the hill to daycare, get almost close enough to see the building and baaaarrrfffff... toddler-vomit everywhere. The first couple times, I was unprepared, totally not expecting it. I parked the car (usually in the daycare parking lot) and grabbed whatever I could from the floor and door-pockets of my always-messy car. I grabbed junk mail, Starbucks pastry bags, plastic grocery bags, anything. After I scooped most of it up, I'd tidy things further with baby wipes and then change her clothes and drive back home with a window or two rolled down.

After the first few car-vomits, I learned what works. Since my 18-month-old fairly frequently throws up in the car, I am never without this kit. Here it is:

1) Plastic grocery bags. These are not only awesome for scooping the mess up, they are great for putting the barf-covered clothes in until you get home.

2) Baby wipes. You can use these to clean up both your kid and the car seat, and if necessary, yourself.

3) Wet Ones. These are antibacterial and safe to use on hands and faces. You can wipe your befouled hands before putting them back on your steering wheel and getting it all germy.

4) A fresh, clean outfit for your poor sick kid to ride home in.

When you get home, obviously you have some more tidying and deodorizing to do. At home, I have at the ready:

1) Lysol or Clorox Wipes. These will remove the remaining barf from the plastic and metal as well as the cloth parts of the car seat and they help to deodorize.

2) Febreze. Spray the heck out of the car seat with this, roll down the windows and the next day, your car will only sort of smell like puke.

I have to recommend that you get a different scent of Febreze for vomit-cleanup than the one you use in your house. I had to stop using Lavender Vanilla in the house because I developed a Pavlovian association with that scent and vomit. Every time I smelled Lavender Vanilla, I automatically also smelled barf, even if there was none around!

I hope this kit will help you if your kid happens to throw up in the car. Most of all, though, I hope your kid just doesn't throw up in the car. Happy Friday!


  1. THANK YOU! I have not encountered this YET, but I can now be well prepared! Our son turns one next week. I love it when mothers with a head start over me share their trade secrets!

  2. I'm glad my frequent barf-cleanup skills can help someone!

  3. Ha!!! This is hilarious and depressing at the same time. My favorite kind of mom-tale ;) I love the advice about the different scented Febreze - pure genius!!! (Dana)

  4. I've really gotta stop reading all these mommy blogs! Y'all are scaring the bejezus out of me!

  5. Oh, after a while none of your kid's bodily fluids will phase you. It's all definitely very much worth it!

  6. If we are driving anywhere with my 3-year-old for more than an hour, we can pretty much guarantee she will puke at least once. I've got to second that rolling-down-the-windows step (i.e. AFTER you Febreeze the heck out of that thing.) Also, try NOT to park the car in a hot garage before thoroughly cleaning it out. DON'T ask me how I know this.

  7. It gets much easier when you're older and can train them to puke into the plastic grocery bags! For little ones, if I have reason to think there's a problem and have to be driving, we put towels in their laps.

  8. Really a nice post to go through. Teaching little one is quite a difficult task but we must not loose our hopes easily as they learn step by step and slowly too.
    Gym Wipes

  9. Thanks, Gym Wipes! Lots of disinfectant wipes certainly help, too! :-)


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