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  • Julie Muller

Don't Cry Over Spilt Milk

Updated: Jan 28, 2022

Spilt milk is one of those liquids that if left untreated will lead to the most obnoxious smells as it decomposes.

Last week, after puppy training, I popped to the shops to get some milk and I put it in the footwell behind the driver’s seat of my car. Unfortunately, on my way home, I braked sharply and the bags on my back seat toppled on top of them. It was only when I got home that I realised that the milk containers had been damaged and that a large volume of milk was slopping around on top of the floor mat.

My first reaction was to remove the damaged carton, empty the floor mat and to blot up the milk that had seeped through onto the carpet. I used a carpet cleaner and very stupidly thought that I had solved the problem.

Two days later I decided to take the dogs for a walk somewhere slightly further afield than normal. When I opened the tailgate, the stench was enough to knock you over. It was repulsive. I consulted the internet and learnt that a combination of dilute vinegar and bicarbonate of soda would do the trick, so I soaked the carpet and sprinkled on the bicarb, and left it when I went out for a walk.

A few hours later, I vacuumed the car – suffice to say, the problem had not been solved.

The smell was so horrible that I decided to try a car valet company who spent four hours giving the whole car interior a thorough clean but, although the car looked beautiful, it still stank.

One week went by – and nobody wanted to get in the car. I sought advice from anyone and everyone and most of them admitted that they had just sold the car.

However, my conscience would not allow me to pass the problem on to someone else, so I decided to take a more scientific approach using white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda.

Milk decomposition is caused by bacteria which use enzymes to break down the sugar (lactose) in the milk into lactic acid. I had read that vinegar interferes with the reaction, so I made up another dilute solution of vinegar (4 parts water to 1 part vinegar) and sprayed it on all of the affected carpets until they were drenched through.

The next stage in the process involved neutralising the main product of the reaction – lactic acid - and that is where the bicarbonate of soda came in. After fifteen minutes I sprinkled a large amount of bicarbonate of soda over the affected area and I left it to dry with the windows open to ventilate the car.

The following day I vacuumed up the bicarbonate of soda and repeated the process.

Two days later, there was already a huge improvement, and the smell was barely noticeable even with the windows closed and the air conditioning on. To further improve the ambience of the car I spotted drops of anti-bacterial, sweet-smelling oregano oil onto cotton make up pads and put them in the driver’s side door pockets.

I will probably repeat the vinegar/bicarb process several more times to ensure that the problem stays away –

The moral of this story is not to cry over spilt milk but to repeatedly douse in vinegar, sprinkle with baking soda and to diffuse the air with oregano oil. – Patience is the key!!

Bruno the red welsh sheep dog sits in the back of the car whilst Julie cleans up the spilt milk.
Bruno - "There's a funny smell in this car!"

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