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 process to break through the mess and remove it for good.
You Will Need:
- A dust pan
- A plastic bag
- Paper towels or old rags
- An absorbent powder:
- Baking soda
- Corn starch
- A vacuum
- Enzyme-based cleaner (ex: Kids ‘n Pets, Nature’s Miracle) or
- A homemade cleaning solution:
- White vinegar
- Dish liquid
Steps to Clean the Carpet:
- Start by removing as much of the vomit as possible. Use a dust pan or other scraper to remove as much as possible. Wrapping a plastic grocery bag over the dust pan works well, then simply fold the bag back off the dustpan when ready to contain the mess.
- Next, blot the area with old rags or paper towels to absorb as much moisture as possible.
- Cover the area with a generous amount of either baking soda or cornstarch. Either of those products will soak up the excess moisture. If you don’t have either of those, salt can be used instead.
- Allow it to sit on the area for 10-15 minutes.
- Vacuum away the baking soda or corn starch with a vacuum.
- Next, you will treat the area for the odor and/or stains that may be present.
- Apply an enzyme-based cleaner. These are readily available in the cleaning aisle or with the pet supplies. These cleaners eat up all the remaining matter, removing any odor or stain as it does. If these cleaners are not available, you can use a solution of one part white vinegar in two parts water with a squirt of dish liquid.
- Apply a generous amount of cleaner to the area.
- Wait a minute or two for the cleaner to work.
- Blot it with a clean cloth or paper towels to remove the cleaner and the stain. Continue blotting until you have removed as much moisture as possible.
- Repeat steps 8-10 as needed.
- Once the area is clean, use a damp cloth to sponge the area to rinse. Any cleaner residue that remains on the floor will attract dirt in the future, leading to a dirt stain.
- Blot with a dry cloth or paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible, then allow the area to air dry.
- Vacuum the dry surface to restore the texture once the area is dry.
Additional Tips and Advice
- If you are sensitive to the smell, place a drop of strong cologne/perfume, lotion or minty toothpaste under your nose before you begin.
- Consider putting your hand inside a plastic bag while cleaning the mess to prevent touching it.
- 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.
- If you do not have a vacuum, you will need to scrape up as much of the vomit as possible using a dull knife or spoon, then start with step 7 above. You can brush the area to restore the texture once it is clean instead of using a vacuum.
- After vacuuming the area, dispose of the contents in the vacuum. This will help prevent odors and bacteria growth inside the vacuum.
- If there is a lingering smell in the area immediately after cleaning, place a bowl of either white vinegar, baking soda or fresh coffee ground near where for vomit was located for an hour.
- The above cleaning methods will work to kill a majority of bacteria and other pathogens that may be in the vomit. However, if the vomit is from someone with a contagious illness (food poisioning, viruses, etc.) and you want to disinfect the area afterward as a precaution, use the guide How to Disinfect Carpet.
Glor K. says
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tired Mom says
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.
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!
Thanks so much for the butter knife and oxi tricks; they worked like a charm!
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!!!
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?
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.
Do these tricks work with a wool carpet?
Yes, but it may be a bit trickier to not push gunk into the fibers of your carpet.
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!).
I read some very good suggestions. I have tried some. The best suggestion I have, is to trick someone else into doing it!!!
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
My eldest just was sick all over his carpet, so I came on here to get tips. Very useful I must say. I just cleaned the sick up using kitchen roll. Then, poured baking powder on the area, followed by vinegar. Left it to dry and vacuumed it away. Good as new. Thank you for these useful tips. ????
Sooo…..confused. Started with 409 carpet stain removal after stain had set overnite trying to help a senior. Afterwards applied baking soda. Still working on it. Missed some steps. Didn’t go to Google first.
Need prayer lol!!!
Since you started with a chemical stain remover, you probably won’t be able to use an enzyme cleaner. Enzyme cleaners rely on beneficial bacteria, and the chemicals in the chemical cleaner that are now on the stain will kill them (preventing them from doing their job of eating up the stain.) It doesn’t hurt to try of course, but if you find that the enzyme cleaner doesn’t seem to be working, that’s why. You can try using other chemical stain removers instead if preferred; Spot Shot works well on carpet vomit stains. Good luck!