Carpet Team logo

#1 Carpet Cleaners in
North East and North Yorkshire

0800 086 2925

How To Clean Sick Off Carpet

19 July 2023

If you have kids or pets, it might be something you've had to face. In fact, it's almost inevitable! Kids catch tummy bugs with alarming regularity, and dogs or cats frequently eat stuff they shouldn't, with revolting consequences. In either case, you need a strong stomach to deal with them.

But we can't just blame the pets and our children; adults need to take their share of the blame, too. Overindulging on special occasions can result in accidents, and sometimes we simply get ill unexpectedly and don't make it to the bathroom.

When these unwelcome events occur, our carpets often suffer. So, how do you deal with it to ensure it doesn't stain or leave a bad smell? As disgusting as the subject is, it's just a part of life. If you need some advice on the matter, here's the Carpet Team's guide to cleaning vomit from carpets.

It's time to take a deep breath, hold our noses and get on with the job...

Is Vomit Hard To Remove From Carpets?

It might seem an odd question (as well as a gross one), but it's one we get asked a lot. People also Google questions like, how do I get vomit out of carpet? So we know it's a big problem for a lot of people, and we sympathise.

The answer to these questions really depends on certain factors, although it's a difficult and unpleasant job.

It's worth keeping in mind that dried vomit is generally more difficult to deal with, so it's best to get it sorted while it's 'fresh'.

The trouble is that this nasty stuff makes its way down into the carpet fibres, making it a real chore to get rid of it all. In addition, the vomit smell can linger, and gastric acid present in the vomit can stain the area if you're not careful. This is more so if you're dealing with canine sick - dogs produce about 100 times the amount of stomach acid compared with humans!

To avoid these problems, you need a clear plan of action when you clean up vomit, so the Carpet Team has gathered a few pointers to help you out.

Act Quickly!

Can vomit permanently stain your carpet? Yes, it can if it's left for too long.

That's why it's always best to deal with it as soon as possible. Of course, when you have sick children to look after or a pet that needs urgent attention, it's not always easy or practical to get down to the stomach-churning task of cleaning up the aftermath.

However, as soon as you can, put on a pair of rubber gloves (or disposable gloves) and get started. If you don't have gloves handy, an inverted trash bag will suffice as a makeshift glove!

For more learnings, you can check out our post "How To Clean A Carpet By Hand".


First things first: get some ventilation as this will help you to cope with the smell. If you have a spare face mask lying around, it might be worth using one. It's also best to keep kids and pets out of the way while you get on with the job.

Cleaning Up

So, you've got your gloves on; now get some paper towels and a plastic bag and clean up as much vomit as you can.


Now, there's no delicate way of saying this: depending on the consistency, you will either need to soak it up or scrape up excess vomit. It's up to you what you use as a scraper*- some people will prefer to use something disposable, whereas others will use a spoon or spatula, though you'll have to disinfect this thoroughly afterwards.

*You could get creative and make a disposable scoop and scraper out of stiff card from a box.

If you don't have paper towels or tissue, you could use a clean towel, but bear in mind that this will need washing. It's unlikely that your washing machine will cope with large pieces of solid matter, and you'll then be faced with the task of cleaning vomit from the washing machine drum.

Blot, Don't Scrub!

If it's mostly liquid, blot it rather than scrub, or you'll push the vomit deeper into the fibres. Put the used paper towel in the bag, tie the top and dispose of it sensibly.

Spread Sand Over It

If you have some builders' sand to spare, it might be worth spreading this over the area and leaving it for a moment. This will soak up the vomit and make it more manageable, allowing you to scoop it into a bag and dispose of it.

Use A Wet/Dry Vacuum Cleaner

Once the bulk of the solid matter has been dealt with, or the liquid soaked up, you could run a wet/dry vacuum cleaner over the area (if you possess one), as this will clean it quite effectively. However, it will still need some further attention afterwards to remove stains and odours.

Now you've got (possibly) the worst part out of the way, it's time to tackle the vomit stain!

Removing Vomit Stains

You could invest in a commercial carpet stain remover, although there are some homemade examples that work equally as well. If you buy one, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions closely and always test any cleaning solution (bought or made) on an inconspicuous area first. Our post "How To Clean Carpet Stains" maybe interest you. You can check it out.

As for the homemade remedies, these include the following:

Hydrogen Peroxide

This is handy stuff as it has a thousand uses around the home, including the ability to remove vomit stains. You can make your own solution by adding this to warm water and pouring it into a spray bottle. As a rough guide, use about one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide to one cup of water.

Apply a liberal amount of the solution to the affected area and leave for at least fifteen minutes. Rub the area gently with a clean damp cloth to create a foam. Blot the vomit stain with a dry towel or clean cloth and leave the carpet to air dry.

Rubbing Alcohol

This is an excellent choice for three reasons: it sanitises the area, deodorises it and effectively removes vomit stains.

You can apply it gently with a sponge or spray bottle, but don't use too much! About two or three tablespoons should do the trick. It should evaporate naturally, but just keep an eye on the area to ensure kids and pets stay away while it dries.

Your Own Mixture

There are hundreds of homemade carpet cleaning solutions out there, many of which would be ideal for cleaning vomit stains, and others that should be avoided!

Many use white vinegar, although this should be used sparingly as it is acidic and may discolour your carpet.

Here's a good example of a homemade carpet cleaner that you might want to try:

  • 1 tablespoon of liquid soap (dish soap/washing up liquid)
  • 2 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol
  • 2 cups of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • Half a cup of white vinegar

Mix all of this well in a container and blot the stain or spray it over the stained area. Leave it for a while, then blot it with paper towels. Apply some cold water to the area afterwards to rinse away any soapy residue and let it dry naturally.

Top Tip: Don't use laundry detergent. Many online sources claim washing powder makes a great carpet cleaner, but this is not the case. While it might shift vomit stains, it's almost impossible to get the soap out, and this traps even more dirt. Also, most contain bleach that will cause synthetic fibres to fade and disintegrate!

Seltzer/Carbonated Water

This is sometimes called club soda (mostly in the US) but is basically sparkling water. Some people suggest that if you pour this over the area and leave it for a few minutes, it helps to lift the stain. It's likely that you'll need something with a bit more strength, but it won't hurt to give it a try. At the very least, the effervescent action will loosen any dried vomit.

Eliminating The Vomit Smell

This is one of the worst features of this nasty stuff, and it can be a real pain to shift!

Never fear, though, because there are several ways of overcoming this.

Baking Soda

If the cleaning process didn't get rid of that disgusting odour, you could try the baking soda trick. Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda (or bicarbonate of soda) over the entire area and cover it to prevent it from being disturbed. Leave this for 24 hours and vacuum the powder up, and you should find that the smell has gone.

Remember to change your vacuum cleaner bag or clean and disinfect the cylinder if it's bagless.

Enzymatic Cleaner

As stomach acids are natural proteins, an enzymatic cleaner is sometimes the best way to break them down. This is very effective at shifting stubborn odours as it is designed to eliminate scent markers in dog poop.

White Vinegar

Distilled white vinegar can tackle bad smells, but it has to be diluted well, or it leaves its own odour (and it can discolour your carpet).

Mix it with cold water and a few drops of essential oils of your choice (pine, lavender or lemon work very well) and spray it over the site.

While some people recommend adding vinegar to hydrogen peroxide, we strongly urge you not to do this as it creates a toxic gas that irritates your lungs, eyes and skin.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Yes, we included this in the 'stain removal' section, but this stuff is great for getting rid of odours as well! Like alcohol, it evaporates away pretty quickly, leaving the area dry.

Are These Methods OK For Rug Cleaning?

Not necessarily, as these tend to be hand-wash only and made of delicate materials. It might be necessary to have them professionally cleaned instead.

Even so, if your rug isn't a prized family heirloom, you might be able to clean vomit from it successfully without causing any damage. However, rather than using a homemade cleaning solution, it might be wiser to stick to a branded rug cleaning liquid.

Top Tip: Don't Use Bleach!

As tempting as it is, because you want to destroy germs and get rid of that nasty smell, bleach will add to the acidity and could stain your carpet permanently. Also, it's never a good idea to apply bleach to any carpet. A spray-on disinfectant would be a better choice once the cleaning process is completed.

The Carpet Team - With You Through Good Times & Bad!

We made it to the end, and now you know how to get vomit out of carpet, like all those other people who Googled it. So, when cold and flu season arrives or a pet or loved one gets sick, you have one less worry.

And if you need further help or want to know about the Carpet Team and our services, we're here for you.

While you're here, take a look at our post "How To Clean A Carpet" for more additional information.



© 2024 Copyright Carpet Team