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How To Clean Vomit Out Of Carpet

Vomit is probably one of the worst things you will ever need to remove from your carpet. It smells bad, it looks awful, and it has a frustrating tendency to leave bad stains. You’ll need to clean it up as soon as possible, but what’s the best way to do this?

There are quite a few options for cleaning vomit off your carpet, such as white vinegar, baking soda, and dish detergent. Commercial stain removers may help to lift out any stubborn marks, and if the smell is lingering, you might wish to try an enzyme-containing pet cleaner.

Published: December 7, 2022.

In this article, we’ll cover how to get rid of vomit from your carpet. We’ll touch on the best ways to lift out stains, get rid of odors, and make your carpet look fresh again – without damaging the pile or bleaching the fabric.

beast on the carpet 1

What Should You Do When You First Find Vomit?

The first thing you should do when you find vomit on your carpet is to check whether it is still wet. If the vomit is fresh, it will be easier to deal with. We’ll cover how to deal with dried vomit later; for now, we’ll focus on fresh vomit.

If the smell of vomit bothers you, put a scented oil on your shirt or some flavored lip balm on; this should help to counteract the odor and make cleanup easier.

You should start by getting a bucket and a tool that you can scrape with. This may be a spoon, a spatula, or even a piece of stiff cardboard, if that’s all that you have available.

You can then use this to scoop up as much vomit as possible from the carpet’s fibers, tipping it into the bucket. The more you can remove, the easier the cleaning job will be.

Something with a flat edge is usually necessary for this process because it will make it easier to press against the carpet’s fibers and lift the vomit out. Keep working until you aren’t able to pick up any more vomit.

Once you have reached this point, you can clean the bucket out by washing the vomit down the toilet and rinsing the bucket with clean, fresh water. It’s then time to move on to cleaning the carpet itself. Some carpets will come with specific instructions about what cleaning products can be used on them, so check these if you have access to them.

If not (and really, even if you do), it’s always a good idea to test products before you apply them to your carpet in any obvious spot. No matter which of the cleaning products mentioned below you choose, you should always spot-check it before you put it on the carpet.

To do this, rub a small amount of the product into an inconspicuous area of the carpet (such as a corner or under a piece of furniture that doesn’t get moved often). Leave it for 10 minutes or so to work, and then wipe it away and check whether it has stained the carpet.

If you notice any bleaching, darkening, or other marks, do not use that product on the carpet. Choose something else, and again do a spot test before using it. You don’t want the cleaner to leave stains while you’re trying to remove the vomit.

What Cleaning Options Are Good For Removing Vomit From Carpet?

The best cleaning mixture is often a combination of white vinegar and baking soda. Baking soda neutralizes odors effectively, while white vinegar is acidic and will help to break down the vomit. It is also good at killing germs, so it will help to sterilize the carpet.

vinegar baking soda

Gather up your supplies before you start. You should get a tub of baking soda, a bowl of diluted white vinegar, a spray bottle, some spare towels, and some gloves for your hands. Start by sprinkling generous amounts of baking soda across the vomit, and then leave it for about 30 minutes.

The baking soda will start to absorb moisture from the carpet, pulling it up and out of the fibers, and it will also begin neutralizing the odor of the vomit. Once it has had 30 minutes to do this, vacuum up the baking soda and then inspect what’s left.

Hopefully, some of the stains will have shifted by this point.

Next, put diluted white vinegar in your spray bottle (a 50:50 ratio should work well). Put on your gloves. Spray the spot thoroughly with the vinegar, and then take a clean, white cloth and begin to gently sponge and blot at the stain. Do not rub it. Scrubbing the carpet will ruin the fibers and leave a permanent mark because the pile will lie differently in that area.

Work gently, so you don’t upset the pile, and keep sponging and blotting and working at the stain until the liquid has been absorbed by your cloth. Inspect the stain. If it is still bad, spray some more vinegar on it and repeat the process.

When you are satisfied that most or all of the stain has been lifted out, get some plain, cool water and gently sponge the area to remove any vinegar residue.

Next, use a clean, dry towel to blot the carpet and pull the remaining water out of it. You can stand on the towel to press it into the fibers and soak up the water, but don’t rub with it.

Finally, let the area dry, and then gently fluff up the fibers again with your fingers. Hopefully, the area will be completely restored, or only a very faint mark will remain. Bear in mind that your carpet will lighten as it dries, so it can be hard to tell whether you have dealt with a stain when the spot is still wet.

Don’t worry if you can still smell vinegar for some hours after using this cleaning method. The smell will soon dissipate. Open a window to let more air into the room if necessary.

baby vomit

Can You Use Bleach On Vomit?

If your carpet is bleach-safe, you can use this cleaning product on vomit (but spot-check first, even if the manufacturer says the carpet will handle bleach). Dilute the bleach and gently work it into the fibers, sponging and blotting without any rubbing.

Many carpets will be permanently marked by bleach, so be aware of this before you try bleaching them. Only carpets that are advertised as being safe to bleach can handle the bleach's color-stripping properties, so it should be avoided in all other circumstances.

Do You Need An Enzyme-Containing Cleaner?

In some cases, you’ll have got the carpet spotlessly clean, but the smell of vomit will linger no matter what you do. This is highly unpleasant and certainly not something that most people want, so you might need to use an enzyme cleaner on it.

This cleaner will contain enzymes that interact with the molecules in the vomit and neutralize them so they can be broken down. There are quite a few kinds of enzyme cleaners, but they are an effective way to tackle vomit odors because they actively break down the proteins and amino acids that are causing the smell.

You don’t always need to use an enzyme cleaner on vomit, so don’t rush out and buy one immediately if you don’t have anything to hand. However, these cleaners are very effective for dealing with both vomit and pet waste, so they may be a good purchase if you’re dealing with stubborn smells, small children, or an animal with incontinence.

The enzyme cleaner will come with instructions on how to use it, so follow these to ensure that you get the desired results. It should also tell you what is effective at cleaning.

Do You Need Dish Detergent For Cleaning Vomit?

A lot of people use dish detergent when cleaning up vomit, and this can certainly be effective. It produces a pleasant odor and will provide a bit of a lather, which may help to combat the vomit. As vomit is often acidic and dish detergent is alkaline, it can be very effective.

dish detergent soap

If you wish to use dish detergent to remove the vomit from your carpet, you can simply mix some in with your vinegar and water solution. ¼ of a teaspoon per cup of water should be sufficient; you won’t need much to produce a lather and benefit from its cleaning properties.

As described above, spray the solution across the vomit, and then blot and sponge the area, working gently back and forth until the stain disappears. Remember to rinse the area thoroughly, especially if you have used dish detergent because the suds will make the fibers stiff and spoil their appearance if they are not washed away.

Should You Use Vinegar And Bleach?

You should NEVER combine vinegar and bleach in your cleaning efforts, even if your carpet is bleach-safe. Although this might seem like it would give you double the cleaning power, it is not a safe option. The two products will interact and create chlorine gas, which can be deadly.

Never mix any other cleaning products with bleach; it should be used on its own, according to the manufacturer’s directions. It can be powerful, but it is also potentially dangerous.

How Do You Deal With Dried Vomit On A Carpet?

If you have not had time to deal with the vomit or have only just discovered it and it has dried, there are still things you can do to address it. Unfortunately, dried vomit may stain the carpet because it contains gastric acid, and this will strip the color out of the carpet’s fibers in some cases.

Quick cleanup is ideal, but if this doesn’t happen, there’s still plenty you can do to deal with the vomit. Start by putting a damp rag on it and leaving it. This will soften the vomit and make it much easier to clean. If necessary, re-wet the rag and continue dampening the area, but don’t make it too wet, or the vomit may spread through the fibers.

Once the area is damp again, follow the instructions above for scraping up any loose vomit, and then clean the area with vinegar and baking soda. You may need to use more water to loosen the dirt from the fibers, but otherwise, the method remains the same.

When you have finished, blot the area thoroughly with a clean towel to dry it.

Be aware that wetting the vomit will make it smell bad, even if it doesn’t smell when dry. If you are sensitive to odors, remember to put a dab of essential oil on your sleeve or a scented lip balm on your top lip.

dog on the carpet

How Can You Dry Your Carpet?

If you’ve got the carpet wetter than you meant to, blotting it with a towel may be a slow process, and you might not have time to do it. In these cases, you may wish to sprinkle it with some more baking soda or another absorbent substance, such as kitty litter. Cornstarch is also a good option.

These will pull moisture up out of the carpet, and they can then be brushed or vacuumed up. Put down a second layer if the area is very wet or if you need it to dry quickly.

Remember to open windows and doors so that air can circulate effectively through the room. This will pull moisture out of the spot and encourage it to dry. Don’t leave a damp cloth resting on it; this will keep it wet for longer. Remove other damp cloths from the area, and consider a dehumidifier if it’s very wet.

When the carpet is dry, fluff it up with your fingers to get it to match the rest of the pile.

Carpet Spot Cleaners

Carpet spot cleaners allow the user to quickly clean stubborn and deeply embedded pet and kid messes, including dried and fresh vomit.

If required, pretreat the mess and clean it using a cleaning solution and provided carpet cleaning brush - cleaning solution will remove the vomit off the carpet fibers, while the strong suction will remove the dirty liquid from the carpet and store it in the second, dirty liquid tank.

Thanks to such a dual-tank design and strong suction, vomit and other stains can be removed quickly, leaving the carpet only slightly moist.

While having such spot carpet cleaner requires some money to be invested, for people with large carpeted areas and pets and kids, it can be of great help.

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Cleaning vomit from your carpets is never going to be fun, but it should be a reasonably easy process if you have the correct cleaning tools to hand.

White vinegar is a very effective option, especially when mixed with dish detergent, and then you can clean the area with fresh water and blot it dry.

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