How to Remove Vomit Stains on Clothing

Vomit stain on white shirt

The Spruce / Ana Maria Stanciu

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 20 mins
  • Total Time: 1 - 2 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

No matter your efforts, vomit always winds up. everywhere but where it should be. So, when you discover vomit on your clothes, put on your rubber gloves and get to work.

Vomit stains are unpleasant and can be tricky to remove, but fortunately, there are several at-home measures you can take to clean the stains using items you likely already have in your cupboard.

To make removal easier, there are several things you should avoid:

  • Never use hot water as the first treatment step. Vomit is a protein stain; hot water can cook the protein and make it very difficult to remove.
  • Never leave a vomit stain on any fabric. The vomit may contain other staining substances, such as tannins, acids, or dyes. The pH of vomit is very high in acid, and acidic bile stains can discolor the fabric.
  • Never place an item with vomit stains remaining on the fabric into an automatic dryer.
 Stain Type  Protein-based, acid-based, tannin-based
 Detergent Type  Heavy-duty
 Water Temperature  Cool to warm
 Cycle Type  Varies depending on type of fabric

Before You Begin

When cleaning a vomit stain, it's essential to protect yourself from any virus or bacteria in the fluid. Wear rubber gloves to help prevent bacteria transmission. As you transport the stained items to your washer, keep them away from your face and body. Place the items in a washable plastic or disposable container that can be cleaned or discarded after use. Consider wearing a face mask for extra protection while cleaning vomit.

When to Call a Professional

If the garment is marked as dry clean only, remove the solids, blot away the moisture, and take the item to a dry cleaner as soon as possible. Point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner. Do not store the stained item in a hot car or plastic bag while waiting to visit the dry cleaner, as it can set the stain and make it more difficult to remove. If the stain is small and you decide to use a home dry cleaning kit, treat the stained area with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 washing machine
  • 1 plastic or disposable bin
  • 1 pair rubber gloves
  • 1 face mask
  • 1 dull kitchen knife or spoon
  • 1 to 2 microfiber cloths
  • 1 sink or plastic basin
  • 1 soft, nylon-bristled brush


  • 1 container oxygen-based bleach
  • 1 container laundry disinfectant
  • 1 bottle distilled white vinegar
  • 1 container heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • 1 roll paper towels


How to Remove Vomit Stains From Clothes

The Spruce / Mira Norian

  1. Lift Away as Much Vomit as Possible

    Use a dull knife or spoon to lift away as much solid matter as possible. Do not rub or wipe the vomit with a cloth because it pushes the stain deeper into the fibers.

    Vomit stained shirt being scrubbed

    The Spruce / Ana Maria Stanciu

  2. Flush With Cold Water

    Hold the fabric under a faucet running cold water at full force. Flush the stained fabric from the inside out with cold water to force out as much vomit as possible. Never use hot water on a vomit stain because it cooks the protein component, making it very hard to remove.

    Vomit stained shirt being rinsed in water

    The Spruce / Ana Maria Stanciu

  3. Wash the Garment

    Wash the stained clothes or linen as recommended on the item's care label. If you are concerned about transmitting a virus within the vomit, use a disinfectant in the wash water. There are several highly recommended types of disinfectants, many of which are safe to use on colored fabrics. If the stain persists or has dried, try an oxygen bleach soak.

    Vomit stained shirt sprayed with stain remover

    The Spruce / Ana Maria Stanciu

  4. Soak the Stain

    To remove tough stains that remain after washing, soak the garment in an oxygen-based bleach and cold water solution. Follow the package directions for the proper mixing proportions.

    Submerge the entire garment. Oxygen bleach is safe for white and colored clothes and all fabrics except silk, wool, and clothing trimmed with leather. After pre-soaking for 30 minutes (longer is fine), launder as advised by the care label.

    Vomit stained shirt soaked in bleach

    The Spruce / Ana Maria Stanciu

Additional Tips for Handling Vomit Stains on Clothes

  • In addition to the methods mentioned above, you can apply lemon juice and baking soda directly to the vomit stain. It will cause a bubbling chemical reaction to help break down some of the protein and acid in the vomit.
  • You can also treat older vomit stains with household ammonia. After removing the solids and flushing the fabric with cold water, dab the stained area with a cloth dipped in household ammonia. Wash as usual.
Originally written by
Sarah Aguirre
Sarah Aguirre is a housekeeping expert with over 20 years of experience cleaning residentially and commercially. Over that time, she has been writing about tips and tricks for housekeeping and organizing a home for national publications.
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