How to Remove Vomit Stains From Carpet

How to Clean a Vomit Stained Carpet

The Spruce

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 12 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5 to 10

Vomit stains are among the worst things you'll ever have to remove from your carpet. Along with the gross stain comes a nasty, pervasive smell. Whenever possible, you should clean up vomit right away, before the odor sets in and becomes much more difficult to eliminate.

Vomit stains and odors can be tackled with a variety of household solutions and products, from dish soap to ammonia to commercial spot removers. You may have to try more than one cleaner, and you likely will have to treat the area more than one time. Get ready to remove that vomit stain with these few simple steps:

Stain type Protein-based, acid-based, tannin-based
Detergent type Stain remover
Water temperature Warm

Before You Begin

Use a spoon or spatula to remove as much of the vomit stain as possible. This sounds really gross, but you want to get up as much of the material as you can without pressing it into the carpet. Keep from making it worse by working from the outside toward the center of the stain, otherwise, you'll create a larger (yuck) mess to clean up.

Methods for removing an old stain are the same as with a new stain, but with an old stain, you will likely have to repeat the removal process several times to be sure it is fully removed. 

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Spoon or spatula
  • Cloths
  • White towels (Optional)
  • Vacuum


  • Club soda
  • Ammonia or carpet spot stain remover


items used in removing vomit stains
The Spruce / Kori Livingston 

How to Remove Vomit Stains and Odors From Carpet

Ammonia can be a powerful tool against vomit stains and odors, as can many commercial carpet stain removers. Be sure to test any treatment in an inconspicuous area of the carpet to confirm that it doesn't damage your carpet.

  1. Remove the Solids

    Scrape and scoop up all solids from the carpet, using a spoon or a spatula. Work from the outside toward the center to prevent spreading the stain.

    removing vomit solids from the rug
    The Spruce / Kori Livingston  
  2. Flush With Club Soda

    • Pour club soda or cold water onto the carpet, covering an area about one-and-one-half times the size of the stain.
    • Let the water stand for 30 seconds.
    • Blot the stain with a clean, dry white cloth or a paper towel, soaking up the water and the stain, and replacing the cloth as it becomes wet.
    • Repeat until no more stain is transferred onto the cloth.


    Always use a white cloth or towel, and not one that is a color, as the dye from the color could transfer to the carpet.

    flushing the vomit stain with club soda
    The Spruce / Kori Livingston 
  3. Treat With a Cleaner

    • Treat the area with a carpet spot stain remover, following the product instructions. Alternatively, mix one tablespoon of ammonia with one cup of warm water. 
    • Blot the solution onto the carpet using a clean, dry white towel. 
    • Use another towel to blot the solution from the carpet.


    Ammonia should only be used in a well-ventilated space. Never mix ammonia with any other cleaning product or chemicals. Toxic fumes can form that are life-threatening.

    spraying the vomit stain with cleaner
    The Spruce / Kori Livingston 
  4. Dry and Vacuum the Carpet

    • Allow the carpet to air-dry.
    • Vacuum the carpet, as usual, to lift and soften the fibers.
    vacuuming the carpet
    The Spruce / Kori Livingston  


For best results, buy a stain remover that has enzymes to break down the residual stuff left in the carpet. Most pet carpet stain removers work well. A foaming cleaner will penetrate the fibers and can usually be vacuumed away after it dries. A liquid may do a good job at penetrating through the carpet but is a little more time-consuming, as it must be blotted away, rinsed, and allowed to dry.

Additional Tips for Removing Vomit Stains

If there is still an odor after the appearance of the stain is gone, it means it isn't really gone. Don't despair, as there are some other tricks you can try.

Option 1: Treat the stain again with an enzyme carpet cleaner.

Option 2: Treat again using dish soap and water.

  • Add two tablespoons of dish soap to two cups of warm water. 
  • Use a clean towel, sponge the area with the towel dipped in the water and dish soap mixture. Make sure that the solution completely saturates the carpet fibers.
  • Allow this to remain on the carpet for 10 minutes.
  • Dip a clean cloth in plain water and blot the area to remove any soapy residue.

For either option, follow these steps below:

  • Continue blotting with a dry towel until no more liquid comes up. 
  • Take a new clean towel and put it over the area with something heavy on top of it until the area dries. 

You may need to repeat this process several times until the smell is completely removed. Be sure to allow the area to dry between treatments.

When to Call a Professional

If you have a carpet that is made out of wool or is a thick shag rug, you should consider contacting a professional to handle the job. They can also handle the larger and tough-to-get-out stains easier. Additionally, if you try to remove a stain and still can't get it out, it's best to let the professionals handle it. Make sure to choose a reputable professional carpet cleaner to clean your carpet. Good professional cleaners have the proper equipment to extract the moisture from the carpet, leaving it almost dry.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cleaning and Sanitizing with Bleach. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.