How to remove vomit stains from upholstery, clothing, and carpets

No matter your efforts, vomit always ends up everywhere but in the place where you wanted it to be. If you or a loved one have been sick and you found vomit stains on your clothing or carpets, grab some rubber gloves and get to work. Cleaning vomit can be unpleasant and tricky but lucky for you, we have some at-home measures for which you will only need common household products that you probably already have at home.

Vomit is a protein stain which means that hot water will cook the protein and make it permanent or hard to remove. Keep in mind that vomit may also contain other staining substances such as acids, dyes, or tannins. The pH of vomit is also very high and the acid bile also stains. Remember to never put a vomit-stained garment in the dryer before removing the grime completely.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that you should protect yourself from any viruses or bacteria that can be found in the vomit. Wear rubber gloves and keep the cloths you are using for cleaning away from your body and face. Place the items in a disposable bag or container when done.

How to clean vomit from clothes

1. Remove any solids – Use a plastic scraper or a dull knife to get rid of any solids that may be found on the surface of the garment. Do not rub and scrub since you may cause the stain to spread and become bigger.
2. Flush the stain – Flush the stain under a running sink faucet. Hold the wrong side up so the power of the water is able to force the vomit out of the fibres. To do that, use cold water at full force and never hot. Remember that hot water will cook the protein in the vomit and cause the stain to become extremely difficult to remove or even permanent.
3. Wash – Wash your garment as usual, or as recommended on the care label of the fabric. If you are concerned about transmitting the virus from the vomit, you can use a disinfectant in the wash water. Make sure the disinfectant you choose is suitable for coloured fabrics. If the stain is still there when the garment is dry, continue with the following steps.
4. Make a solution of oxygen bleach and cold water and soak the garment inside. Follow the package instructions when mixing the two ingredients. Submerge the garment and let it sit in there for 30 minutes. Then, wash according to the fabric care label.

Cleaning vomit stains from carpets and upholstery

Both carpets and upholstery can be washed using the same method. However, you should keep in mind that excess moisture on upholstery can cause mould and mildew growth so make sure you don’t over-saturate it.
1. Scrape solid matter – Use a spoon, dull knife or a plastic scraper to remove any solid matter that can be found on your carpet/upholstery. Do not rub or scrub the stain.
2. Blot – After the solids have been removed, grab some paper towels and press down on the stained area. Absorb as much moisture as possible.
3. Mix a cleaning solution – Combine 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid detergent. ½ cup of white distilled vinegar and 2 cups of cool water.
4. Work the solution in the fabric – Dip a sponge, white cloth, or a soft-bristled brush in the cleaning mixture and begin by blotting it on the stained area. Then, with gentle motion work it in the stain starting at the outer edge and moving towards the centre. Continue blotting at the area until no more stain is transferred to the cloth.
5. Dip a clean white cloth in plain water and begin blotting at the area of the stain. Make sure you thoroughly rinse any soapy residue because it may attract more soil in the future.

If the fabric has a dry clean-only label, do not hesitate to bring it to a professional. That way you will avoid damage. The same goes for vintage or fragile fabrics on upholstery etc. If you want to take on a more natural approach, you can apply lemon juice and baking soda to the stained area. The fizzing will help break down some of the protein and loosen the stain.
Always disinfect the garment after cleaning it and carefully dispose of the items used in the cleaning process. Virus spreading prevention is extremely important when dealing with vomit. If the stained item is not too important to you, feel free to throw it in the rubbish altogether. The time and effort you will spend on cleaning the vomit stain is probably not worth it.