How to Remove Vomit Stains on Clothing and Carpet

Vomit stain on white shirt

The Spruce / Ana Maria Stanciu

Vomit certainly ranks up there among the most unpleasant things to deal with, but as stains go, vomit is usually pretty manageable. Because these are food-related stains, the severity can vary by the contents. As with most food stains, it is best to address them as soon as possible.

Tip: It can get nauseating working so close to vomit, so breathe through your mouth (not your nose), so you can work with both hands and not smell the vomit.

How to Remove Vomit Stains on Clothing

Try the following steps to remove vomit stains from washable clothes. For dry-clean-only garments, follow step 1 below, then blot the stain gently with a clean, white cloth dampened with cold water. Blot the area with a dry cloth and take the garment to a dry cleaner as soon as possible.

  1. Remove as Much Vomit as Possible

    The smaller the stain, the easier it is to tackle. Remove the bulk of the material with a spoon or a butter knife. Scrape only as much as necessary to remove the vomit without roughing up the clothing's fibers. Old stains may need to be gently scraped away too.

    Vomit stained shirt being scrubbed

    The Spruce / Ana Maria Stanciu

  2. Rinse with Cold Water

    Run cold water through the backside of the stain to force the stain out through the front of the fabric.

    Vomit stained shirt being rinsed in water

    The Spruce / Ana Maria Stanciu

  3. Soak the Stain

    Soak the fabric in cold water with color-safe bleach or soak it in a solution of 1 quart warm water, 1 tablespoon ammonia, and 1/2 teaspoon liquid detergent. Use an old toothbrush to make light strokes on the stained fabric (called tamping). Blot in between tamping with an absorbent pad. Rinse well with water to fully remove the ammonia. You do not want to use hot water because it will set the protein in the stain. Repeat this process until the stain is removed.

    Vomit stained shirt soaked in bleach

    The Spruce / Ana Maria Stanciu

  4. Rinse, Spot Treat, and Wash

    Rinse the clothing thoroughly in cold water, then apply a stain remover stick, gel, or spray to the area. Let the clothing sit for three to five minutes. Wash in warm—not hot—water, using a liquid laundry detergent.

    Vomit stained shirt sprayed with stain remover

    The Spruce / Ana Maria Stanciu

How to Remove Vomit From Carpet

The trick to removing vomit from carpet, as with other bulky stains, is to work from the outside toward the center of the stain to prevent spreading out the stain.

  1. Remove the Vomit

    Wipe up as much of the vomit as you can by using a rag or scooping it up with a spoon.

    Vomit stained carpet being scrubbed

    The Spruce / Ana Maria Stanciu

  2. Use Stain Removal Product

    Apply Stain-X Carpet Stain Remover or Up & Out Spot Shot Carpet Stain Remover or a similar stain remover (do not use these on wool rugs) to the area. Make sure you do not force the stain deeper into the pile of the rug.

    Vomit stained carpet sprayed with stain remover

    The Spruce / Ana Maria Stanciu

  3. Clean the Area

    Mix 1 teaspoon of mild, non-alkali detergent with 1/2 pint lukewarm water. Sponge and blot the liquid with an absorbent pad until there is no more stain to remove. You can also try sponging the area with a mixture of 1 tablespoon ammonia and 1 cup warm water. (Do not use ammonia on wool rugs.) Blot the excess liquid, and continue until there is no more stain to lift.

    Sponge absorbing vomit stained carpet

    The Spruce / Ana Maria Stanciu

  4. Lift the Stain

    Place an absorbent pad over the damp area, then set a heavy item on top to weight it down (or you can simply step on the pad). When the liquid is fully absorbed, take the pad off and let the carpet air-dry thoroughly.

    Absorbant pad placed under vomit stained carpet

    The Spruce / Ana Maria Stanciu