How to Clean Vomit from Carpet (Fresh & Dry)

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Categories Carpet Care
Who puked on the carpet? Here’s how to clean it out.

The stench of vomit is something we all want to get rid of the second someone hurls on the floor. What’s worse, we have to find a way to get rid of those partially digested pieces showcasing the person’s last meal. Sadly, this is easier said than done when the unfortunate target happens to be your carpet.

Getting vomit out of carpet fibers requires a bit of work and some determined elbow grease. It’s not a job for the sensitive stomach — you don’t want to barf while cleaning barf.

So today we’re revealing how to clean vomit from carpet. Grab a scented mask, some thick gloves and hand sanitizer, because we’re about to dive in.


How to Clean Wet Vomit from Carpet

Before we get started, here are some things you’ll need for the job:

  • Rubber or latex gloves.
  • A scraper.
  • Either paper towels, a piece of cardboard, a plastic bag, a spatula or sand.
  • Broom and dustpan.
  • Baking soda or cornstarch.
  • Rag or cleaning cloth.
  • Spray bottle with warm water.
  • Club soda, dry cleaning solvent, white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide.
  • Carpet or fabric cleaner.

Step #1: Remove the Vomit

Begin by putting on your gloves. This will keep your hands clean from germs, but also protect them from the smell.

There are several ways to remove the vomit. The important thing is that as soon as it’s safe to go near the sick, you pick up the chunks. The longer you leave it, the worse the stain will be.

1. Using a Scraper

If you have a scraper or spatula near you, grab it and use it to lift the vomit off the carpet. Slide it under the spew and place it into a plastic bag or dustpan. This is very easy and minimizes your contact with the sick.

If you’re using a spatula, avoid one with holes or gaps. The vomit will fall out and leave you with more work. You can also use a piece of cardboard, for example, from a cereal box — just verify that it can hold the weight.

2. Plastic Bag

Another way to get the job done is a la dog-poop style — a plastic bag around your hand. With your hand inside the plastic bag, pick up the vomit and turn the bag inside out. Seal it off before disposing of it.

3. Hand or Paper Towel

We all have towels at our disposal, whether fabric or paper, so this is a popular method for several cleaning jobs. Grab the towel and proceed to pick up the vomit. However, don’t rub, this will only make it worse.

If you’re using a hand towel, make sure you remove all clumps from the fabric before cleaning it in the washing machine. Otherwise, chunks can get stuck in the machine.

4. Try Sand

An alternative method is sand. Dust the vomit with a generous amount to cover it completely. Let it clump together with the sick and then use a broom to remove it.

If your carpet is thick, go over with a vacuum to remove all the sand.

Don’t Apply Pressure

It’s imperative that you avoid using any pressure to the vomit. If you do, you’ll press it into the carpet fibers, making it even more challenging to remove.

Step #2: Dry Excess Moisture

Once the chunks are gone, if there were any, it’s time to remove the moisture. Letting it air dry isn’t ideal, as it could lead to persistent odors or stains. There are several ways to do this, and here are a few:

1. Baking Soda

Probably the most popular product to use is baking soda. It’s a godsend when it comes to expelling excess moisture.

Grab your baking soda and sprinkle a generous amount on to the vomit spot to cover it. Leave it there for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, or until you see dry clumps. Grab your vacuum to remove the residue, but use the tube as opposed to the vacuum head.

You can also apply baking soda and leave it overnight. This is especially useful if the vomit was only fluid. The powder will soak into it, leaving you free to vacuum it the next day.

2. Cornstarch

If you don’t have baking soda, use cornstarch — it works just as well. Use the same technique as above. Cover the moisture, let it sit and then vacuum it.

3. Blot the Moisture

Fill a spray bottle with plain warm water, and grab a clean rag or cloth. Spray the vomit spot until wet. Then use the rag to blot out the moisture.

Avoid scrubbing as this will cause the moisture to sink into the fibers. Instead, use firm dabbing until the rag is saturated. Grab a new one and repeat if necessary. Paper towels also work.

Step #3: Remove the Stain

This is where the hard work begins. Stains can be persistent, so immediate action is necessary. We’ve included a few techniques you can use — or combine them if needed.

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1. Dry Cleaning Fluid

With all the chunks gone, apply a dry cleaning solvent to a clean rag or towel. You can use any brand you like, but popular choices are Dry Cleaner’s Secret and Dryel.

Use the saturated rag to blot the stain until the solution is absorbed into the carpet, and the stain is gone. You may need to repeat a few times.

2. Vinegar

Grab a clean spray bottle and mix equal parts of cold water with vinegar, for example, one cup of each. Give it a shake to combine and then proceed to spray the spot liberally. Let it soak for roughly 15 minutes.

Take a clean cloth and blot the area to express the solution. Be firm when dabbing, but don’t scrub.

Once you’ve soaked up most of the solution, scrub the stain with a stiff brush. As it begins to loosen, repeat blotting with the cloth. At this stage, you can add some drops of essential oil to dampen the smell.

If the stain is persistent, you can try the iron method. Start by applying some more of the vinegar solution and place a white damp cloth over it.

Then set your iron to the steam setting and glide it across the cloth for about 30 seconds. This should cause the spot to transfer from the carpet to the towel. You may have to repeat a few times.

Be Cautious

Always place a cloth or towel between the iron and your carpet. Otherwise, your rug may burn. Never leave it in one spot for too long; keep sliding it across the area.

3. Spray Club Soda

If the stain isn’t so severe, a good weapon you can use is club soda. Put some into a spray bottle or directly onto the stain. Then repeat the dabbing with a dry, clean cloth until the stain is gone.

4. Hydrogen Peroxide

For tough stains, create a solution of one part hydrogen peroxide and one part dish soap or water. Distribute the concoction over the stain and let it work for approximately 30 minutes.

With a rag or cloth, gently rub the stain to create a lather. Then dab the moisture with a dry cloth to soak it up.

Proceed to pour some water over the stain to rinse the soap. If you skip this, the soap will accumulate dirt and dust, giving your carpet a dirty appearance.

5. Ammonia Solution

Another mixture you can try is ammonia and water. Dissolve one tablespoon of ammonia in one cup of water. Stir it and transfer to a spray bottle.

Spray generously over the stain. Then use a towel or sponge to dab the solution into the carpet. Follow up by rinsing with some water and dry utilizing towels.

Take Note

Avoid using ammonia if you have pets in your home. It can attract them to where you’ve used it, and they may urinate on the spot.

6. Carpet or Fabric Cleaner

If you need something a little more powerful, try a carpet or fabric cleaner — just ensure it doesn’t contain bleach. The best ones are enzyme-based and should clear the stain right out. Follow the instructions on the product’s bottle.

7. Carpet Cleaning Machine

For severe stains that won’t disappear with any of the above methods, try a carpet cleaning machine. A tool such as a wet-dry vacuum can help remove the stain more effectively. Don’t worry if you don’t own one, shops such as Home Depot rent out the machines.

Step #4: Get Rid of the Smell

Hopefully, the vomit smell is already gone after one of the above cleaning techniques. However, if it persists, try applying some baking soda to the area. Sprinkle a generous amount and leave it overnight — the powder will work to neutralize the odor — then vacuum to remove it.

You can also use your vinegar and water solution, but be aware that it can leave that acidic smell behind. Another solution is to simply use a spray deodorizer, like Febreeze, on the area. Opt for a neutralizing spray as opposed to an air freshener as they will only mix with the smell and worsen it.

How to Clean Dry Vomit from Carpet

Cleaning up dry vomit is probably the toughest task you can face (not really, but it ain’t pleasant). First of all, there’s the now dry residue to remove. It’s hard to scrape off and requires some prepping. Then the gross stain had time to root, and the stench got comfortable in the carpet fibers.

Luckily, though, the process is similar to cleaning fresh vomit, with the addition of a few other steps. Here’s what you do:

Step #1: Scrape the Vomit

Grab a spatula, dustpan or other scraping device and proceed to scrape the dry vomit. Because it’s now dry, it should be fairly easy getting any large chunks out without too much effort. For now, you’re just removing the excess — don’t strain yourself with getting it all out.

Step #2: Soak the Spot

Take a cloth and moisten it with some water (warm temperatures are best). Then dab the vomit until it becomes damp and softens up. Refrain from scrubbing as it could make it worse.

Step #3: Use an Enzyme Cleaner

Because vomit is a mixture of body enzymes, it’s a good idea to use an enzyme-based cleaner for the process. This will eliminate bacteria and germs accumulated by the vomit.

Apply a liberal amount onto the area and leave it to work for as long as the instructions suggest. Once done, use a damp towel to blot the area. Repeat as many times as necessary until the stain is gone, then leave it to air dry.

Step #4: Finish With the Vacuum

Once the area is dry, use your vacuum to remove residue. Then let your carpet get back into shape and regain its fluffiness.

Some Helpful Tips

1. Distract Your Nose

We all perceive smells differently, but one thing we can all agree on is that vomit stinks. So if you need a little help getting through the job, we recommend distracting your nose. You can do this by applying some perfume, fragranced lotion, essential oil, or minty toothpaste under your nose.

2. Don’t Wait

We mentioned this briefly earlier, but we want to stress the importance. As soon as you can, get a scraper and bucket to remove the vomit. Letting it sit can promote bacteria growth, intensify odors, and make the stain worse.

3. Dispose of All the Contents

After you’ve finished cleaning the spot, dispose of all the leftovers. Empty the vacuum and take the trash out. The odors can quickly spread throughout your home.

Depending on how you feel, use old rags or cloths you don’t need. This way, you can just throw them in the trash once finished.

4. Clean the Air

If there’s still a smell of vomit near the area, grab a medium-sized bowl. Add either some white vinegar, baking soda, or coffee grounds (1). Let it sit for approximately an hour near the site, and it will soak up airborne odors.

5. Use a Brush

If you don’t have a vacuum, scrape up as much residue as possible and then follow the cleaning steps above. Once the area is dry, use a brush to restore the fluffiness and texture.

6. Disinfect the Carpet

Most of the methods above work to disinfect the area, preventing bacteria from spreading. However, if the person who got sick is suffering from a contagious illness, we recommend that you sanitize the whole carpet (2).

You can do this by mixing baking soda, borax and cornmeal — then sprinkle across the carpet. Use a cloth to rub it in and let it sit overnight.

Use a vacuum the following day to remove the powder mixture. Then, in a steam cleaner’s detergent vessel, apply a blend of white vinegar and water. Steam the whole carpet and leave it to dry.

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7. Patch Test

If you haven’t used any cleaning mixtures or chemicals on your carpet before, make sure you do a patch test. Apply an amount in a corner and let it sit for a while. If it discolors your carpet, avoid using the product.


Get Your Gloves and Mask

A carpet owner’s worst nightmare is when someone pukes on it. It smells and you have to be careful not to rub the vomit in.

Luckily, once you know the basics of how to clean vomit from a carpet, it’s easy. There are several techniques involving either vinegar, baking soda or fabric cleaners. But it’s essential to do a patch test if you’ve never treated your carpet with anything before.

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About the Author

Amy Anthony

Amy is a stay-at-home-mom, seasoned writer, and a home cleaning and organization aficionado. Amy enjoys having an absolutely spotless home and has worked hard to develop strategies to keep it that way, despite having 2 kids and 3 dogs!
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