Cleaning Vomit Stains. It’s Just One of Those Things.

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Cleaning up puke is gross. There's no way around that. Along with being a gag-inducing unpleasant task, it can leave a reminder of the event with hard-to-treat stains. Whether it's embedded in your carpet fibers, on the clothing of a sick kid, or on upholstery from a party that got out of hand, knowing how to clean stains and vomit odors can help make the event a distant memory.

What You'll Need

  • ***Enzyme cleaner***: If there is a reason to keep a bottle on hand, it is for this task. Opt for a commercial enzyme cleaner specifically designed to break down organic stains like vomit.

  • Disposable rubber gloves

  • Plastic scraper or spoon

  • Garbage bag

  • Absorbent materials: Paper towels, clean rags, old towels.

  • White vinegar: Breaks down proteins in the vomit stains.

  • Baking soda: Helps to absorb odors from carpets and upholstery.

  • Mild detergent: We recommend liquid detergent. Laundry or dish soap will do.

  • Hydrogen peroxide: It's a last resort for tough stains and harmful bacteria, but be cautious as it may discolor certain materials.

  • Clean microfiber cloth or sponge: For applying and blotting.

  • Water: Have clean water for diluting and rinsing. *** Don't use hot water. Stick to cool water. Use warm water only to dilute powdered detergent if necessary.

Cleaning Vomit From Carpets

1. Prepare the Area

  • Open windows or turn on fans to ventilate the area.

  • Put on disposable gloves.

  • Scrape solid residue with a plastic scraper or spoon. Dispose of into a toilet or garbage bag.

2. Blot Excess Moisture

  • Use towels to blot up as much of the vomit as possible.

  • Press down firmly and repeat until you've absorbed as much liquid as you can.

3. Apply Cleaning Solution

  • Apply enzyme cleaner according to the manufacturer's instructions. Or...

  • Mix a solution of equal parts white vinegar and cold water.

  • Dab the solution onto the stain with a damp cloth or sponge, ensuring it saturates the affected area.

  • Also, if the puke was induced by Norovirus, Lysol Disinfectant Spray has been tested and proven to kill norovirus on soft and hard surfaces throughout your home.

Related: Cleaning is Not Disinfecting. But Do You Understand Why?

4. Let it Sit

Allow the cleaning solution to sit on the stain for 5-10 minutes to break down the vomit and neutralize odors.

5. Blot Method Again

Blot the area again with clean towels to absorb the loosened stain and cleaning solution.

6. Neutralize Odors with Baking Soda

  • Sprinkle baking soda over the affected area to neutralize any remaining odors.

  • Let the baking soda sit for at least 15-20 minutes before vacuuming it up.

7. Rinse and Dry

  • Use a damp towel to blot the area to remove any leftover cleaning solution or baking soda residue.

  • Allow the area to air dry completely, or use a fan to speed it up.

8. Treat Stubborn Stains

For stubborn vomit stains, consider using diluted hydrogen peroxide (test in an inconspicuous area first). Spray liberally, let it sit, blot, dry.

9. Repeat if Necessary

Repeat the process.

10. Optional: Call in the Pros

If the entire carpet is affected, renting a commercial carpet steamer, or hiring a professional carpet cleaner might make more sense.

Learn How to Sanitize Washable Clothes, Bedding, and Towels

  • Separate clothing and linens. Sort laundry into separate loads based on fabric type and color. Check care labels to wash in the hottest permitted water temperatures.

  • Rinse excess vomit. We suggest doing this in a deep sink or at an outdoor hose.

  • Pre-treat stains. Inspect items for stains and pre-treat them with a stain remover.

  • Use warm water. Wash items in the hottest water temperature suitable for the fabric.

  • Choose detergent wisely. Don't scrimp on laundry detergent. You don't necessarily need bleach but use an appropriate solution with an oxygen-based cleaner, tea tree oil, or lavender oil, to disinfect the material.

  • Select the right cycle. Use the longest wash cycle available on your washing machine.

  • Add vinegar or baking soda. Consider adding white vinegar or baking soda to the wash cycle for extra sanitization. Just in case you're thinking about it, never mix bleach and vinegar together. It creates a toxic gas.

  • Dry thoroughly. Only dry items after the stains are fully removed. The acid in the vomit will be set as a stubborn stain if dried prematurely.

  • Clean the washer regularly. A cycle with hot water and vinegar will combat bacteria.

Related: Is Someone in Your Home Sick? Learn How to Sanitize Their Laundry

Removing the Scent of Vomit From a Mattress

At the height of your kid's stomach flu or being sick yourself, the last thing you want to deal with is trying to fall asleep on a mattress that reeks. Here's how to remedy that:

  1. Immediate action. Act quickly to blot up as much of the vomit as possible using paper towels or clean cloths. Don't rub the spot, because the mattress will absorb it and develop tougher stains.

  2. Create a cleaning solution. Use a commercial enzyme cleaner designed for removing organic stains and odors. Alternatively, mix equal parts of water and white vinegar in a bowl or spray bottle.

  3. Apply the solution. Generously spray or blot the cleaning solution onto the affected area of the mattress. Allow the solution to penetrate the fabric for about 10-15 minutes.

  4. Blot and absorb. Blot the mattress with clean towels. Press firmly to absorb the moisture.

  5. Neutralize odors. Sprinkle baking soda over the entire affected area of the mattress. Let the baking soda sit for several hours to absorb any lingering odors.

  6. Vacuum the mattress. Use a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment to remove the baking soda.

  7. Air out the mattress. If possible, place the mattress outside in direct sunlight for a few hours. This will air it out and help disinfect. Alternatively, use a fan to circulate air around the mattress indoors.

  8. Repeat if necessary. Repeat the cleaning process until the smell is completely gone. Consider using a stronger cleaning solution or consulting a professional mattress cleaner if needed.

Can vomit stain grout?

Yes, the acid in vomit causes the stains and the porous surface of grout is primed to absorb liquid and become discolored. Prompt cleaning and treatment are essential to prevent permanent staining and odors.

Related: Can You Remove Stains From Light Floor Grout? Yes, and This Technique Works the Best