Remove Vomit Stains From Carpet

Pink gloved hand cleaning a stain on carpet with a blue rag

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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 vomit right away, before the odor sets in and becomes much harder to dispel.

An illustration on removing vomit stains from carpets.
The Spruce/Adrian Mangel

What You Need to Clean Vomit Stains

  • Spoon
  • Club soda or water
  • Clean white cloths
  • Enzymatic carpet cleaner or pet carpet cleaner
  • Mild dish soap
  • Clean towels
  • Ammonia (be sure to test a spot before using)

Remove Vomit Right Away

Use a spoon 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 possible without pressing it into the carpet. You'll probably want to cover your mouth to avoid the smell.

Next, pour club soda or cold water onto the affected area. Let it stand on the vomit stain for 30 seconds. Blot the stain with a clean dry cloth, soaking up the stain, and replacing the cloth as it becomes wet. Repeat until no more stain is transferred onto the cloth. Treat the area with a carpet spot stain remover according to its directions.

Removing Old Vomit From Carpet

The methods of removing an old stain are the same as with a new stain, except you will likely have to repeat the stain removal process several times to be sure it is fully removed. And sometimes with old vomit stains, a little ammonia can be a useful tool.

However, you should never use ammonia on wool and always test in a hidden spot to be sure it doesn't damage your carpet. Be sure the area is well-ventilated because ammonia has its own overpowering smell. This is truly a last resort when you've tried everything else.

Mix a tablespoon of ammonia and a cup of warm water together. Blot the solution onto the carpet using a clean dry white towel. Use another towel to blot it away and allow to dry. Repeat until you feel like it has done as much improvement as it can. Avoid getting ammonia on your skin, and absolutely keep it away from your eyes.

Illustrated tips on how to remove vomit stain from carpet.
Illustration: © The Spruce, 2018

Which Stain Remover Is Best?

For best results, you'll want to buy a stain remover that has enzymes to break down the residual stuff left in the carpet. Most pet carpet stain removers are a good option. 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 to blot away, rinse, and allow to dry.

Be sure to test any product you use in a hidden area of carpet to make sure it doesn't affect the color because not all carpet is colorfast. A carpeted closet area, the edge near a wall, or under a piece of furniture may be good testing spots.

When the Stain Is Gone but the Smell Remains

If there is still an odor after the appearance of the stain is gone, it means it isn't really gone. You can try treating again with the enzyme carpet cleaner. You can also try adding two tablespoons of dish soap to a pint of warm water. Using a clean towel, sponge the area with the towel dipped in the water and dish soap mixture.

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.