How to Clean Vomit Off Carpet

Cleaning up vomit is one of the worst cleaning tasks around. When it lands on carpet, you have a double task. Remove the odors and the stains. The key is using the right cleaners to break through the mess and remove it for good.

You Will Need:

  • Dust pan
  • Spoon
  • Paper towels or old rags
  • Warm water
  • Bucket
  • Enzyme-based cleaner (ex: Kids ‘n Pets, Nature’s Miracle)
  • Baking soda or corn starch
  • Vacuum 

Steps to Clean the Carpet:

  1. Start by removing as much of the vomit as possible. Use a dust pan or other scraper to remove as much as possible. For smaller messes, a spoon will work.
  2. Next, blot the area with old rags or paper towels to absorb the moisture.
  3. Cover the area with baking soda or corn starch. Either of these products will soak up the excess moisture.
  4. Allow it to set on the area for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Vacuum away the baking soda or corn starch with a vacuum.
  6. Next, you will treat the area for the odor and/or stains that may be present.
  7. Apply an enzyme-based cleaner. These are readily available in the cleaning aisle or with the pet supplies. These cleaners break down the odor-causing proteins so they can be removed completely. They are effective in removing stains as well.
  8. Apply a liberal amount of cleaner to the area.
  9. Blot it with a clean cloth or paper towels to remove the cleaner and the stain.
  10. Repeat as necessary.
  11. If these cleaners are not available, water can be mixed with vinegar and dish soap. Use the same application/blotting method to clean the area.
  12. Once the area is clean, allow it to air dry completely.
  13. Vacuum the dry surface to restore the texture.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • For best results, clean the carpet immediately. The longer the vomit sits, the further it will soak into the carpet and padding and will be more difficult to remove.
  • Some cleaners, such as Kids ‘n Pets, are designed to stay on the carpet and air dry as they clean and remove the odors. There is no need to rinse after using these products.
  • Dry cleaning fluid is also helpful for removing vomit stains from carpet.
  • After vacuuming the area, dispose of the contents and replace the bag. This will help prevent odors and bacteria growth inside the vacuum.
  • If a wet vac or carpet shampooer is available, it will make the cleaning task faster and more effective.


  1. If your little one or pet gets sick on your carpeting, don’t use a rag to try to clean it up – it will only push it further into your rug. Instead, use the edge of a butter knife to scrape the mess out and off of the carpeting. With the majority of it removed, you can then use a spot wet-vac if you have one, or try a good carpet cleaning product. Woolite makes a good pet stain product for carpeting that works well for this purpose, too. Try not to soak your rug with too much water – it may not dry fast enough and cause mold to grow underneath.

  2. Cleaning vomit or dog messes off carpet is tricky. Get the majority off with a metal object, don’t push it into the carpet. Then, take a damp cloth and scrub the rest of the carpet with just water. Once it has most of the “stuff” off the carpet, then dampen with Windex and let it sit for a few minutes and using a clean damp rag, scrub again.
    This will take out most stains left behind, and take the smell out.

  3. DO NOT SCRUB YOUR CARPET!!!! Take off the chunks with a spatula or butter knife, then spray hydrogen peroxide or Oxy Clean. Let it sit for five minutes and pat firmly with a dry white cloth. Continue multiple times until no stain appears on the cloth. Finish by sprinkling with baking soda for odor removal. After 10 minutes, vacuum.

  4. A small dustpan (the kind that goes with a crumb brush or small whisk broom) is handy for lifting vomit off carpet before cleaning. It holds more than a spatula or butter knife, but still does not push icky stuff into the fibers of your carpet. Get one that can go in the top rack of your dishwasher, if you can.

  5. Stewy's girl says:

    Sprinkle a heap of talc powder over the vomit patch and leave for an hour or so; the talc soaks up the moisture from the carpet. The talc will go crumbly then you can vacuum it up or sweep it with a dust pan and brush. Once you have done this, you need to treat the leftover stain and odor. I usually fill a small tub with warm soapy water and add a few drops of eucalyptus oil with a bit of elbow grease; the stain is gone and no more smell.

  6. Collegekid says:

    As a student who has cleaned vomit from carpeting on more than one occasion, I have found that the Woolite Oxydeep POD works miracles. They fine you big time for carpet stains in dorm rooms and with this thing, you can’t tell there was ever anything there. Highly recommend it.

  7. Sometimes when you see a specific product mentioned in a forum like this, you have to be suspicious that it’s a plant. But the information given on the Woolite Oxydeep is spot on (no pun intended). It worked like a charm.

  8. Having three cats – I know hairballs… Ewww. I have found them on occasion in a hidden low traffic location dried out. They are so much easier to remove when they have been allowed to dry. Simply scrape the dried mess up and do a thorough vacuum – follow up with any wet cleaning method you prefer to remove the odor. Rubbing, blotting or scraping when wet, pushes the material deeper into the fibers, and potentially into the pad. Letting them dry helps keep the mess at the surface… if you can stand seeing the mess for a few hours or so. Of course this does not apply to large messes (child, dog or adult vomit) – do a more direct approach if the carpet is already saturated.

  9. Shoot. I rubbed too. It just didn’t occur to me to Google “clean throw up out of carpet” in the moments following the upheaval. Although, I honestly couldn’t see cleaning it with a butter knife – not with as much as my three-year-old just heaved up.

    Still using the baking soda to soak up the odor. Will probably go get a spot cleaning machine tomorrow.

  10. Sometimes a spatula or butter knife can’t handle the amount of vomit. I use a cup to scoop up the vomit. It scrapes the chunky stuff, but if you press down, it also scoops up some of the liquid. Once most of it is removed, I use a rag and laundry detergent plus baking soda in a bowl of water to clean the area. Dry the area with an old towel as much as I can, then sprinkle baking soda and carpet deodorizer on it. I vacuum it up when it dries. Hope this helps other mommies out there!

  11. Thanks so much for the butter knife and oxi tricks; they worked like a charm!

  12. I had been trying to clean vomit out of my carpet all day and FINALLY was able to get it out by following these steps!!! I would suggest skipping the enzyme-based cleaner and just do the warm water with vinegar because that worked wonders. The vomit is acidic because it contains stomach acid, so the baking soda and vinegar combination works extremely well to neutralize the smell. Thanks so much!!!

  13. Unfortunately, I found week-old vomit under my kid’s bed. Now it’s very thick and really stuck on the carpet. Not to mention the smell. I don’t know how he managed to vomit under his bed. What would work best, in this situation?

  14. Jody,
    My cats vomit much more often than I’d like and almost always on the carpet. I actually prefer to find it when it has dried because it makes cleaning much easier. My trick; the vacuum hose. I just use the hose to scrape the vomit off the carpet and the suction grabs all the bits as they become loose. Then, I apply a stain cleaner to the carpet, scrub the spot clean with a paper towel and vacuum the spot again. (I also clean the vacuum, of course.) If there is any smell after that, I spray the area with a vinegar and water solution and vacuum again.

  15. Do these tricks work with a wool carpet?

  16. After scraping up as much as I could, I sprinkled what baking soda I had left, and then cornstarch on the rest of it. But I got to thinking (too late); a) is this cornstarch going to gunk up my vacuum?, and (regardless) b) I can clean out the canister (I have a bagless vac), but what about all along the hose…seemed kinda yuck to me, but-oh well, too late! So then, I decided to dilute some vinegar in hot water and spray it really well and, of course, it bubbled up from the baking soda I’d put on first (some trace amount left), which made me think to tell ya’ll – just ‘be aware’ that this is an oxidation reaction (kind of like hydrogen peroxide on blood, certain germs, etc.) and any kind of oxidation can BLEACH certain things (or possibly lighten it). So, just thought I’d mention that – I have a light beige carpet color, and I was trying to get up MILK that spilled on it a while back… A nightmare getting that smell out!! Anyway, I had tried peroxide, and it actually did leave a slightly lightened spot there. As a side note, this “oxidation” reaction is also the basic concept behind bleaching your teeth as well (I’m a reg. dental hygienist!).

  17. I read some very good suggestions. I have tried some. The best suggestion I have, is to trick someone else into doing it!!!

  18. Baking soda or cat litter first, cover with a towel and let dry. Vacuum. Then use stain remover. Good as new without shoving it all into the carpet.

  19. I followed this to the tee except what I did was saturated the fresh vomit with crystal laundry detergent first, then let it sit. I scooped vomit and detergent up with a spoon and then used a shop vac to pick up the remaining detergent. I then followed the other steps posted above.

  20. I tried this and my carpet turn the color of the vomit. Now, I have a bigger mess than I started with; a big yellow/orange-colored spot right in the middle of my carpet, thanks.

  21. I like the idea to scrape pet vomit into a dustpan with a butter knife used only for this purpose. My #1 suggestion is do NOT buy cat or dog food with artificial color added to them. This is what stains our carpets more than anything! AND use Viva white super absorbant paper towels. :)

Leave a Comment