How to Safely Clean Vomit from Your Carpet

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We’ve all experienced that sinking feeling that comes from discovering (or watching) vomit on the carpet. The method to cleaning it up is fairly simple, but you need to act quickly. It isn’t a difficult process, but it involves multiple steps. Learn how to clean vomit from carpet quickly so your carpet is restored.

Before you dive in, make sure that you the proper protection, such as a face mask and rubber gloves. Wearing gloves will keep your hands clean, and a face mask reduces the chance of inhaling the bacteria that vomit can contain.

In addition to cleaning the vomit from the carpet, it is important to sanitize your carpet. As mentioned, vomit contains germs that you want to quickly eliminate. This will keep your home clean and healthy.

1. Clean Up the Vomit

First, start up by cleaning up the vomit that is sitting on top of the carpet. If it is still relatively fresh then you should be able to pick it up with a paper towel or rag. Use gentle and slow motions to capture it all and keep it above the carpet without rubbing it in further.

Your natural reaction might be to rub vigorously, and it is important to resist this. You want to be as careful as possible not to grind any more of the vomit into the carpet. Be gentle, and don’t worry if it is a slow process.

If the mess is not coming up with this light technique, then you will need to find a sturdy flat item to scrape the vomit up. A dustpan, scraper or even a spoon will work to help you clean up the mess. Again, scrape the vomit in slowly.

It is important to get as much of the vomit up as possible to make the next steps more effective at cleaning your carpet.

2. Get Rid of the Moisture

Now that the top layer of vomit is cleared off you can begin the work of pulling out the vomit that is in your carpet. Even if you catch the vomit just after it happens, the mess will penetrate through and into the carpet. To fully clean vomit out of carpet, you have to remove all of the moisture that is trapped in your carpet fibers.

Try to pull up as much moisture as you can by blotting and not rubbing the area. Use paper towels or, if it is really bad, an old rag or two.

Also, don’t be stingy with the amount of paper towels or rags you use to blog. Keep using dry spots on the towel or use more paper towels to fully remove the moisture.

If you continue using the same damp towel or rag, you run the risk of pushing vomit that was already picked up back into the carpet.  

baking soda to clean vomit from carpet

3. Treat the Stain

At this point, you’ve gotten all of the vomit out of the carpet. If it is fresh, then hopefully it hasn’t taken too much effort to this point. If the vomit is older, then keep reading, as we will address that situation specifically.

Once you have pulled all the moisture out of the carpet, you need to treat it with a product that will further the cleaning process. Blotting takes out the majority of the moisture, but there will still be some left that can’t be taken out with a towel or rag. Household products like baking soda or cornstarch make a good starting point.

Sprinkle a good amount of baking soda or cornstarch on the affected area, and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. To clean vomit from carpet, you can’t skip this step.

The baking soda or cornstarch will penetrate into the carpet fibers to lock in moisture that won’t come out from blotting. The time also allows the moisture to dry up some in the power, making it easy to vacuum up.

​4. Vacuum the Carpet

Once you’ve allowed the baking soda or cornstarch to sit for 10-15 minutes, you can run the vacuum over the area. Vacuum slowly, and run it several times over the area to get everything up. The powder should come up easily in your vacuum at this point.

You won’t need a powerful vacuum for this – just a good vacuum for shag carpet will be enough.

Use a high quality vacuum on your carpet to pick up debris from an old stain.

5. Sanitize the Carpet

Whether or not there is a stain left behind, you will want to use a cleaner to treat the carpet and restore it. When you are looking for a cleaner, choose an enzyme based cleaner. This type of product will break down the stains and discolorations that might be in the carpet.

You can also opt for using household products such as a vinegar, dish soap and water spray. Or, for an extra sanitizing step, you can use hydrogen peroxide.

Hydrogen peroxide is listed as a disinfectant and is a great option to use after stain removal treatment. It also doubles as a good resource for cleaning mild stains.

No matter what treatment you use, you can follow the same process. Spray the treatment onto the carpet, and let it sit and absorb. As you did before, blot the carpet after the treatment as has sat for a short period of time.

If you’re looking into how to clean cat vomit from carpet, you can follow these very same steps. Whenever you are treating vomit from your carpet, and you have pets or kids in the home, make extra certain the treatments are safe. This is all the more reason to use simple, in-home products like baking soda.

Bonus: How to Clean Dried Vomit from Carpet

The process is very similar for cleaning vomit out of carpets that has already dried. After you’ve scraped the vomit off of the surface of the carpet, you need to add an extra step.

Place a damp towel over the section of carpet, and let it sit for several hours. You want to re-moisten the area, so that your treatment will have the maximum effect.

Once damp, you can move on to the treating the stain and sanitizing the carpet. You might need to repeat these steps several times if the dried vomit is stubborn and not coming up.

​Tip: A HEPA filtration vacuum cleaner will also help remove a lot of the residule bacteria and germs that are in your carpet.

Statistics and facts about carpet bacteria
Compliments of TeamWay

​Final Step

After your carpet has dried, use a ​standard vacuum cleaner​ to go over the area one last time to pick up any leftover debris. This step will also fluff and restore texture to your carpet.

If you are unsure how your carpet will react to any cleaner, test it out on a small section that is out of the way. It is important to ensure it will not discolor or ruin your carpet.

Now that you know how to clean vomit from carpet, you can cringe a little less when it happens. Following these steps, you have a process that will simultaneously remove the vomit, bacteria, odor, and stains.

Lauren Moldvay is a freelance writer from Virginia and the mother of one (not always) sweet little girl. She specializes in trying to help others find easier ways to clean, manage the home and save money with DIY projects.