how to clean up vomit

How to clean up vomit and remove vomit smells

Most parents find themselves cleaning up vomit at some point, whether it’s a little upset while you’re burping your baby (usually down your back) or something more spectacular when your older kids get car sick. Removing those vomit stains and smells is never fun, but with the right tactics, you can at least make the job a quick one. Here’s how to clean vomit from carpets and clothes swiftly and effectively, so that everyone can feel better, sooner.


How to clean up vomit on clothes

Whether it’s you, your partner or a little one who’s ill, you’re always going to want to clean that vomit up fast. The steps below will help you do that, and give you good results too. 

Here’s how to clean up vomit on your clothes:

  1. Remove any solids. This is the least pleasant part of the whole vomit stain removal process, so it’s best to be quick about it. Use a bit of cardboard, a spoon, or some paper towels to scoop up the excess vomit and throw it in the bin.
  2. Rinse the stain out using warm water. If it’s a small stain, you can flush most of the vomit out by holding the garment under a running tap with the stained side facing down. If the vomit is pretty widespread, you’re better off soaking the whole garment in warm water. Either way, check the care label first to make sure the water temperature isn’t too high for the fabric.
  3. Apply a pre-treatment. Dab a little Surf excel liquid detergent onto the stain and gently rub it in. Leave it on for 15–30 minutes.
  4. Wash the garment after checking the care label for instructions. You can either wash the garment by hand or in the washing machine, although the latter is a nicer option. Repeat steps 3 and 4 if the stain persists.


How to clean vomit from carpets 

Cleaning vomit from a carpet can be a little trickier, since you can’t wash the whole thing in the machine. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Open a window. You want to work in a well-ventilated area, especially if you’re about to use a strong carpet cleaning product.
  2. Remove solids. As before, scoop up and discard as much vomit as you can.
  3. Sprinkle an absorbent powder over the stain. There are commercial carpet cleaning powders you can use, in which case it’s best to follow the instructions on the label. If you don’t have one of them to hand (and don’t want to wait), use salt or baking powder. Either way, let the powder absorb the liquid from the stain and then vacuum it up.
  4. Make a solution. Mix one-part white vinegar with two parts water, then add a tiny bit of dishwashing liquid. Apply this solution to a clean towel and use it to blot (but not rub) the stain. If you’d prefer something stronger, you can use a commercial carpet cleaning product to treat the stain instead. If so, follow the instructions on the product label.

Hint: No matter what stain removal option you use to clean vomit from the carpet, remember to test it on a small, inconspicuous area first. 


How to remove vomit smell from carpets

So, now you know how to clean vomit from carpets and furniture – but how do you get rid of that lingering smell? There are a few ways:

  • Repeat the method above, ideally before the area has had time to dry.
  • Use a steam cleaner to give the whole carpet a good deep-clean. Make sure that your carpet is suitable for this treatment before you start, as some types of carpet don’t react well to the heat.
  • Use a suitable anti-bacterial carpet spray on the affected area to remove any lingering germs.
  • Finish off with a carpet deodorant. If you can’t find a commercial option, mix water with a few drops of essential oil and dab or spray the solution onto the stain.


All cleaned up? Phew! Hopefully everyone feels a little better now. For more stain removal advice, have a look at our Washing Tips & Tricks section.