Guilty Puppy & Carpet Stain

How to Clean Vomit from a Carpet

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Vomit is probably one of the grossest messes to clean up. It’s even worse when it happens on something soft like your carpet. Unfortunately, it’s also one of those messes most of us will have to deal with at some point, especially if there are kids or pets in your home.

Fortunately, having to clean vomit out of your carpet doesn’t have to be the worst. You just have to know the right way to deal with it.

What You Need to Clean Vomit from a Carpet

  • Gloves
  • A trash bag
  • Plenty of paper towels or rags
  • Baking soda
  • Vacuum
  • Enzyme-based cleaner OR white vinegar and dish soap OR hydrogen peroxide and dish soap

Step 1: Remove Solid Chunks

First, you’ll want to remove any solid chunks. This is probably the grossest part. Throw on some gloves, pick up the solid bits, and throw them in a trash bag.

If putting your hands on the vomit chunks, even through gloves, is too much for you, you may be able to clean them up with a dustpan or spoon. If you have a particularly sensitive stomach, wearing a face mask while cleaning can be a lifesaver. After all, the last thing you want is even more vomit to clean up.

Step 2: Remove Moisture

Next, you’ll need to absorb the moisture. Blot the carpet with paper towels or rags and pick up as much of the liquid as you can. Then spread baking soda over the entire surface of the stain. The baking soda will absorb lingering moisture with the added benefit of helping to neutralize odors. Let the baking soda sit for about 15 minutes and then vacuum it up.

Then, immediately empty the vacuum canister or replace the vacuum bag after you’re done, so the smell doesn’t penetrate your vacuum.

Step 3: Eliminate Odors

Ideally, you’ll want to use an enzyme-based cleaner to remove the lingering odors. Vomit is a protein-based stain, just like urine, and enzyme-based cleaners are great because they effectively break down these proteins, removing stains and odors. Most enzyme-based cleaners are marketed for pet stains, but they generally work just as well on human vomit as well. My favorites are Angry Orange Enzyme Cleaner & Pet Stain Remover Spray and Biokleen Bac-Out Stain Remover for Clothes & Carpet. Simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the container.

If you don’t have an enzyme-based cleaner on hand, you can mix either distilled white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide with dish soap, though this isn’t as effective as an enzyme-based cleaner. Do not use both hydrogen peroxide and vinegar together, as this creates peracetic acid, which is dangerous to touch or inhale. Use one or the other. Liberally apply the solution to the stain, either with a spray bottle or by saturating a cloth or paper towel and blotting the stain. Then use a clean, dry cloth or paper towel to absorb any excess solution and allow the carpet to air dry. If the smell persists, repeat the process.

For very stubborn or large vomit stains, you may need to use a carpet shampooer with an enzyme-based carpet shampoo, like Nature’s Miracle Carpet Shampoo.

What About Vomit Carpet Stains?

Sometimes we don’t find vomit stains carpets immediately. Maybe your dog snuck behind the couch and vomited while you weren’t looking or your child vomited during the night and decided not to tell you.

Unfortunately, allowing vomit to sit allows stains and odors to set, making it harder to clean up, but the good news is that it doesn’t change the cleaning process all that much.

First, if the vomit has dried out, you’ll want to re-dampen it so it’s not stuck to the carpet, making it easier to remove without damaging your carpet. Warm water is most effective. Be warned, though; this step can release less than pleasant odors.

Second, you may need to repeat the above cleaning process several times to completely remove the stain.

Final Notes

As you can see, cleaning up vomit stains can be a relatively straightforward process, as long as you know what to do. However, there are a couple more things to remember when cleaning vomit from your carpet.

First, acting fast is key. Begin to clean up as soon as you discover the mess. It can be tempting to wait, especially if you’re tired or are dealing with a sick pet or family member. Unfortunately, the longer the vomit sits, the more it can soak in, leaving stains and odors that are even harder to deal with, so it’s best to act as soon as possible.

If you can’t get to the vomit immediately, you can at least mitigate the issue by pouring baking soda over the entire surface of the stain, then laying a towel over the baking soda. This will help absorb the liquid and neutralize the odor until you can get to the stain for a more thorough cleaning. Once you’re able to get to the stain, simply follow the cleaning instructions above.

In addition, remember to always check your carpet manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning, and before applying any cleaner, perform a spot test to avoid damaging your carpet.