How to 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 up vomit right away, before the odor sets in and becomes 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.

Stain type Acidic food stain
Detergent type Regular laundry detergent
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. 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. 

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.

Project Metrics

·       Working Time: 10 to 15 minutes

·       Total Time: 12 hours to overnight

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Club soda
  • Ammonia or carpet spot stain remover

Tools

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

  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 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.

  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.

    Warning

    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.

  4. Dry and Vacuum the Carpet

Allow the carpet to air-dry. Vacuum the carpet, as usual, to lift and soften the fibers.

Tip

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.

Illustrated tips on how to remove vomit stain from carpet.
The Spruce

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 the stain again with an enzyme carpet cleaner. You can also try adding two tablespoons of dish soap to two cups of warm water. Using a clean towel, sponge the area with the towel dipped in the water and dish soap mixture. Try to 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.

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.