How to Remove Vomit Stains From Clothes, Carpet, and Upholstery

How to Remove Vomit Stains

The Spruce / Ellen Lindner

We've all been there. A stomach bug hits someone in the family and look out, it spreads like wildfire. Cleaning up vomit or emesis and removing the stains is not pleasant but the job of stain removal can be simple by following the right steps.

How to Remove Vomit Stains From Washable Clothes

Pet and human vomit are protein stains. The stains contain other components but it is the protein that needs treatment first. 

You might want to put on some rubber gloves to help prevent germ and bacteria transmission. Use a dull knife or plastic scraper to remove as much solid matter as possible. Do not rub or wipe with a cloth because that pushes the vomit deeper in the fibers. As soon as possible, hold the fabric under a cold water faucet running at full force. Flush the stained fabric from the wrong side to force out as much of the vomit as possible. Never use hot water because it cooks the protein component making the stain hard to remove.

As you transport the stained items to the washer, keep them away from your face and body. Use a plastic, washable container that can be cleaned to hold the clothes. Next, wash the stained clothes or linen as recommended on the care label. If you are concerned about transmitting a virus, use a disinfectant in the wash cycle. There are several types of disinfectants and some are safe to use on colored fabrics.

If the vomit stain is dried or old, scape or brush off any crusted matter, then soak in an oxygen bleach/cold water or liquid detergent/cold water solution. Follow the directions on the package for mixing the oxygen-based bleach (brand names are: OxiCleanNellie's All Natural Oxygen Brightener, or OXO Brite). Submerge the entire garment. Oxygen bleach is safe to use on both white and colored clothes and all fabrics except silk, wool and anything trimmed with leather. After pre-soaking for 30 minutes, launder as recommended above.

How to Remove Vomit Stains From Dry Clean Only Clothes

If the garment is dry clean only, remove the solids and sponge the area with a white cloth dipped in plain cool water. Blot away the moisture and take the item to a dry cleaner as soon as possible. Do not store the stained item in a hot car or plastic bag for days on end. Point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner.

If the stain is small and you decide to use a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stained area with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag.

How to Remove Vomit Stains From Carpet

No matter how many trash cans are made available, somehow the vomit always misses. So, when you discover the problem, don your plastic gloves and get to work. Use a plastic scraper or spatula to lift the solids up and away from the fibers. Do not rub or wipe until as much of the solids have been removed because that will only push the stain deeper in the carpet.

After the solids have been removed, blot up as much moisture as possible with paper towels. Mix a cleaning solution of one tablespoon liquid hand dish washing liquid, 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar and two cups of cool water. Dip a sponge, white cloth or soft-bristled brush in the solution. Start at the outside edge of the stain and work the cleaning solution into the stained area. Blot away the moisture with paper towels to transfer the stain out of the carpet. Repeat the cleaning solution/blotting until no more stain is transferred.

Dip a clean white cloth into some plain water to rinse the area. It is particularly important to rinse away any cleaning solution that remains because suds can actually attract soil to the area. Blot until no more soapy residue remains. Allow the area to air dry away from direct heat or sunlight. Vacuum to lift carpet fibers.

How to Remove Vomit Stains From Upholstery

Use the same cleaning mixture and techniques recommended for carpet to treat upholstery stains. Take care not to over wet the upholstery fabric because excess moisture can cause problems with the stuffing in the cushions.

If the upholstery is silk or vintage, consult a professional upholstery cleaning service or if you need more stain removal tips.