How to Clean Vomit From Carpet: Step-By-Step Guide

By
Gladys K. Connelly
As a HouseKeeping Technical Writer, Gladys actively enjoys writing guides and tips about housekeeping for Thehousewire's audience. She's a professional housekeeping specialist with just shy of 9 years' experience to boast. That, combined with seven years prior experience in teaching, helps her create content that is both captivating and insightful.
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Updated April 13, 2022

Don’t get upset about upchuck. Just clean it up.

How to Clean Vomit From Carpet: Step-By-Step Guide

Maybe you’ve been sick, your kid puked on your favorite rug, or your cat vomit ended up on your carpet. Whatever the situation, cleaning vomit stains out of carpeting can be tricky.

Trust us, we know. And when you try to remove odors, they often linger.

But don’t worry. Here, we’ll show you the best ways to clean vomit out of carpet.

Before You Begin

You can use this method on any vomit stain, whether it’s dry or wet. Plus, you don’t need any fancy equipment, such as a carpet cleaning machine.

Also, check out our general carpet cleaning tips.

In particular, pay attention to the part about protecting yourself. Since vomit is a bodily fluid, you should wear rubber or latex gloves.

In addition, always do a spot test when you use a new chemical. Pick a hidden part of your carpet to test the product and ensure it won’t affect the dye or texture of the carpet fibers.

What You’ll Need

* :or use a spatula or dustpan, for wet vomit
** :e.g. cornstarch, cornmeal, talcum powder, cat litter, or swimming pool filter material such as diatomaceous earth
*** :or any commercial carpet or fabric cleaner

Once you’ve gathered these supplies, you’re ready to tackle the vomit stains.

Instructions

1. Absorb and Remove Liquids

Whether fresh or dried, you need first to remove as much vomit as possible.

Fresh Vomit

If you’re cleaning fresh vomit and the spot is still wet, choose one of the absorbent materials listed above and sprinkle it liberally over the stain. Then, wait until the material has absorbed the liquid.

Next, using paper towels, remove your absorbent material and toss it and the paper towels into the garbage can or a plastic bag.

If you don’t have any of those absorbent products available, you can try these alternatives:

  • Spoon: Scoop up the remaining vomit by working from the outside of the spot toward the middle. And always sanitize your utensil afterward by soaking it in boiling water for 5 minutes or putting it in the dishwasher.
  • Clean towel, white cloth, or paper towel: Use a white rag or paper towel to blot the excess moisture from the spot. Afterward, put the cloth in the washing machine with laundry detergent or throw away the paper towel.

If you’re using a cloth to clean vomit, make sure to shake any solid chunks into the trash bag before putting the cloth into the laundry. Otherwise, you can clog your appliance.

Dried Vomit

If you’re cleaning dried vomit, you want to scrape off as much of the solid matter as you can. To do this, you can use a scraper or a dull knife (no stiff brush) to work it off the carpet.

Once you’ve finished scraping, use a vacuum to remove any extra bits that may remain.

After that, you’ll add some liquid in the next step to soften the stain.

2. Add Water to the Stained Carpet Fibers

Now that you’ve removed as much vomit as you can, it’s time to use some cold water.
You want to add enough water to moisten the stain, but make sure you don’t soak the rug entirely. So a spray bottle may come in handy.

If you want to pour water directly, carefully drizzle just a little. However, as a safer method, you could use a spray bottle or dampen a clean cloth to add water.

Note

We recommend using tap water – not club soda. Club soda is salts and carbon dioxide dissolved in water. So it won’t damage your carpet but it won’t help either. So keep it simple and use water.

Once the stain is damp, use another white cloth to gently blot the fibers of the carpet.

Then, you can dry the area by blotting with a dry cloth or paper towels, or you can use a wet dry vacuum. Don’t use a regular vacuum, as you can damage the appliance.

If you can’t see the stain anymore, well done. Only go on to the next step if the stain is still visible.

3. Use a Carpet Stain Remover

In this step, you have a few different choices for cleaning solutions.

If you want to make your own cleaning solution, it’s very simple. Just dissolve ¼ teaspoon of liquid dish soap in 1 cup of plain warm water.

If you prefer to buy a cleaning solution, the best option is a commercial cleaner that’s CRI-certified. Or Buy a stain remover, like TECH stain remover . It will deodorize the carpet to remove the vomit smell in addition to cleaning the fibers (1).

To use a carpet stain remover, put a small amount of the solution on a clean white cloth and gently blot the vomit spot. Never scrub the area, as you can push the stain deeper into the carpet.

Once you’ve used your cleaning solution, rinse the carpet with plain water or a vinegar and water solution. For the solution, simply mix 2 cups of water with 1 cup of White vinegar.

Next, use a dry towel or cloth to blot the spot and absorb as much liquid as possible.

Finally, place several layers of paper towel over the spot and weigh them down lightly. This will absorb even more of the moisture.

4. Disinfect and Let Dry

You don’t have to follow this step, but we recommend it. Since you’re dealing with a bodily fluid, it’s a good idea to kill any germs in the carpet.

If you have a steam cleaner, you can use it to disinfect the spot. Simply use the appliance on the stain for 5 minutes at 170 degrees F.

Afterward, let the spot air dry.

5. Vacuum

Once you’ve finished cleaning the stain, run your vacuum over the spot. This will help remove any debris, absorbent material, or residue from the cleaner.

Using the vacuum will also help restore and even out the texture of the carpet.

But make sure that the carpet is fully dry before you do this, or you could hurt your vacuum.

If the Stain Is Still Present

If you tried the steps above but you still can’t get the gross stain out, don’t panic. There are a couple more things you can try.

These two methods use bleaching agents for cleaning vomit. The first uses ammonia, which is a reducer, and the second uses hydrogen peroxide, which is an oxidizer.

While these are useful products, they can also damage your carpet if you’re not careful.

Concentrated hydrogen peroxide can hurt natural fibers like cotton, wool, and silk. And both are bleaching agents so they can remove or change the carpet’s dye.

Therefore, you should try the steps above first to remove as much of the stain as possible before you use a bleaching agent. And always make sure you test the product on a small hidden area.

If you want to try one of these on your carpet, first use the hydrogen peroxide because it works best on organic stains. But you need to wait a long time for it to work. Then, if that doesn’t work, use the ammonia.

Keep In Mind

A dry cleaning solvent isn’t the best solution here. Solvents are chemicals which dissolve stains and work on greasy and oils stains.

Hydrogen Peroxide

If nothing else has worked, you can try hydrogen peroxide.

To use it, make a solution of 3 tablespoons of warm water and 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide.

Gently blot some of the mixture onto the vomit stain, and then cover the area with a thick cloth or towel so light can’t reach the carpet.

Then, wait at least half an hour. If you have more time, wait even longer.

Every so often, check the carpet to see if the fibers have changed color.

When you’re happy with the result, rinse the solution off the carpet with water and let the carpet dry.

Ammonia

To make an ammonia solution, mix a cup of warm water with 1 tablespoon of ammonia.

Never pour the solution directly onto the spot. Instead, put a little on a clean towel or cloth and blot the stain.

Another thing to know about ammonia is that it can brown your carpet. To reverse browning, rinse the vomit stain with an acid solution after you use the ammonia.

For an acid rinse, mix 2 cups of water with 1 cup of distilled white vinegar. Again, use a clean white rag to blot the solution onto the carpet.

Next, rinse the vomit stain once more with a towel dipped in plain water.

If you don’t have White vinegar at home, water also does the trick. Make sure you rinse generously the stain. Repeat until all the ammonia is removed.

Finally, place weighted paper towels on the carpet to absorb the extra liquid, and then let it air dry.

Don’t Use Baking Soda

Avoid using baking soda. Baking soda is an abrasive cleaner which will do more harm than good to your carpet. Plus in addition to damaging your carpet fibers, it leaves a white film that’s nearly impossible to remove.

Get Vomit Out of Carpet: When to Call for Professional Carpet Cleaners

There are a couple instances when you should call a professional.

For example, if the vomit stain remains even after you’ve tried the methods above, it’s a good time to ask a specialist for help.

In addition, if your carpet is made of a delicate material, such as silk, wool, or nylon, it’s best to ask a professional.

Professional carpet cleaners also have the equipment and knowledge to efficiently remove tough stains and deep clean your carpet.

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