Spilling anything at all in your car sucks. Even water, as it can promote mold and mildew growth. Some things, though, are a helluva lot worse than others.
These are the 14 worst things you can spill in your car. They'll result in everything from really annoying and permanent stains to an entire weekend spent scrubbing your car's interior with all sorts of chemicals that are probably too strong to be legal even in California.
14. Any condiment except mayo
Mustard’s pretty bad, and ketchup’s worse, but then there’s...
13. Mayo Sure, you were lazy and grabbed a burger on the way home. That mayo you dropped and didn’t notice won’t exactly look like mayo by the next time you’ve got a date in the car though, and you probably won’t remember how it got there. Good luck explaining that one.
It’s a well-known fact that coffee stains are among the hardest to get out. If you’ve got a light-colored interior, this is an advertisement to any passenger you’ll ever have that you weren’t just sipping at stop lights.
Hope it’s just in your floor mat, and that you didn't somehow grind it in. Gum in carpet generally only comes out with a pair of scissors.
10. Broken glass Broken glass really sucks for two reasons: First, it probably wasn’t your fault that the window was smashed in, and second, you will never, ever get all those tiny shards out of the seat, carpeting, and even inside the door itself. Sorry.
If you’re lucky, you’re only smearing that sweet, sweet goodness on leather, but you’ll still have to really work to get it out of crevices. Drop an M&M, though, and the sneaky little bastard will scamper off, hide so far beneath the seat you can’t even get it with a vacuum cleaner, and take up permanent residency in your car. That's how you get ants.
8. Booze Ever taken a turn too quickly on the way home from the liquor store and heard a CLANK! sound in the trunk as two bottles collided? If a bottle broke, the smell of alcohol’s there to stay, which’ll be fun to explain the next time you’re pulled over.
7. Greasy or gravy-covered foods
Grease helps things work their way into fabric, drastically lowering chances of removal. Drop a gravy-coated fry and you’re screwed.
6. Pungent foods
That Pad Thai takeout sure smells great when you open the lid, doesn’t it? Drop it on the floor and you’ll get to experience that smell forever. And ever. And ever.
Milk’s a deceptive little bastard. It seems so innocent and easy to clean at first. Then, the smells set in as the remainder sours. That’s when you realize you’re sitting in a veritable CDC chamber full of bacteria.
4. Cigarette ashes
You know smoking’s bad for you, but when you think about it, it’s just as bad for your car. It’s even worse when you let those ashes and butts build up. You end up with a powdery mess on everything and the stale smell of old nightclubs that’ll haunt you far longer than the memories of your poor decision making.
Soda’s bad. If you don’t get it out immediately it’ll turn into a thick sludge to which anything and everything will stick. Make the mistake of leaving an unopened can in your car either in the dead of winter or the middle of summer, and you’ll experience what it’s like to have that gooey hell zone sprayed all over your interior.
2. Tobacco spit cup
Just...no. Filling an entire cup with your dark brown, tar-laden saliva is disgusting in baseball stadiums, it’s disgusting at home, and it’s indescribably gross in an automobile. When the inevitable happens—it’s sitting in an open-topped cup after all—you’re going to be spending an entire weekend figuring out how to salvage your car. Here’s a hint: new carpet’s only a few hundred bucks for most cars.
1. Any. Bodily. Fluid. This really should go without saying. Blood tells people you’re a murderer who likely has bodies in the trunk at this very moment. Urine and vomit means you simply didn’t pull over when you knew you really needed to, and if you happen to have intestinal discomfort, for the love of god/whoever else will have to sit in the car from now to eternity, just don’t get in the car.
Aaron Miller is the Rides editor for Supercompressor, and can be found on Twitter. He once agreed to clean a friend's car. After removing the seats and spending an entire day just on the inside, he realized he didn't charge nearly enough.