How to Clean Vomit From Carpet: An Icky But Necessary Task

By: Editors of Consumer Guide & Austin Henderson  | 
Overhead view of a person vacuuming a gray carpet
Vacuuming is one of a few essential steps in cleaning vomit from carpet. Christina Reichl Photography / Getty Images

Vomit happens. It's a fact of life that's as unpleasant as it is unavoidable. And when it lands on your carpet, you're left with a daunting challenge: how to clean vomit from carpet. But with the right approach and some household items, you can tackle this messy task effectively.


Carpet Types and Vomit: A Delicate Relationship

Carpets come in various fibers like acrylic, cotton, linen, nylon, olefin, polyester and spandex. Each type interacts differently with vomit, making it crucial to approach cleaning vomit out of carpet with a fiber-specific plan.

The First Line of Defense: Immediate Action

Before diving into specific cleaning solutions, it's essential to address the vomit stain promptly and effectively. Immediate action can significantly reduce the severity of the stain and make the cleaning process more manageable.


  1. Remove solids. Gently scrape up solid matter using a paper towel or a dull tool. Be careful not to press the vomit further into the carpet fibers.
  2. Blot, don't rub. Absorb as much vomit as possible with a clean cloth or paper towel. Blotting gently is the key. rubbing can spread the stain and damage carpet fibers.

Go-to Tools and Solutions

After addressing the immediate mess, it's time to bring out your cleaning arsenal. Different types of carpet fibers may respond better to certain cleaners, so it's good to have a variety of options at your disposal.

  • Warm water: This is often your first and best cleaning agent.
  • Mild dish soap and baking soda: These common kitchen items are surprisingly effective against vomit stains.
  • Ammonia or white vinegar: While these powerful liquids are excellent for tougher stains, use cautiously, especially on wool carpets.
  • Commercial carpet cleaner: For stubborn stains, a commercial carpet cleaner can offer extra cleaning power.
  • Hydrogen peroxide: The fizz-inducing fluid is good for light-colored carpets, but always spot test first.
  • Steam cleaner: Use this for deep cleaning and removing lingering odors.

Step-by-step Cleaning Guide

Different carpet fibers respond differently to vomit, requiring specific cleaning approaches. Here's a detailed guide for each type.

1. Acrylic Carpets

  • Initial action: Gently scrape off excess vomit.
  • Cleaning mix: Combine warm water with mild dish soap.
  • Technique: Blot the stain gently, avoid rubbing.
  • Rinsing: Use cool water to rinse out any soap residue.
  • Drying: Pat dry and allow to air dry.

2. Cotton Carpets

  • Initial step: Remove solid matter carefully.
  • Cleaning solution: A mixture of white vinegar and water works wonders.
  • Application: Gently dab the solution onto the stain.
  • Rinse: Use a clear water rinse to eliminate vinegar smell.
  • Drying process: Air dry or use a fan to speed up the process.

3. Linen Carpets

  • Start: Quickly lift off any solid vomit.
  • Cleaning agent: Mix mild detergent with lukewarm water.
  • Blotting method: Press gently; don't scrub.
  • Rinsing step: Thoroughly rinse with clean water.
  • Dry: Allow to air dry completely.

4. Nylon Carpets

  • First step: Carefully scrape away vomit.
  • Cleaner: Add warm water to a small amount of liquid detergent.
  • Cleaning process: Blot lightly without scrubbing.
  • Rinse: Use cold water to rinse the area.
  • Drying: Pat dry and let it air dry.

5. Olefin Carpets

  • Initial action: Gently remove solid vomit.
  • Cleaning solution: Mix warm water with mild soap.
  • Blotting technique: Apply with a soft cloth, blotting gently.
  • Rinse off: Rinse with cool water.
  • Dry: Air dry or use a gentle fan.

6. Polyester Carpets

  • First action: Remove any solid residue.
  • Cleaning mix: Create a solution of mild detergent and warm water.
  • Application: Gently dab and blot the stain.
  • Rinse: Thoroughly rinse with cool water.
  • Drying method: Air dry away from direct sunlight.

7. Spandex Carpets

  • Initial step: Carefully scrape up any solids.
  • Cleaning solution: Use mild detergent with lukewarm water.
  • Blotting: Gently blot, avoiding harsh rubbing.
  • Rinsing: Rinse thoroughly with water.
  • Drying: Air dry or use a soft fan.


General Tips for All Carpet Types

When faced with the challenge of cleaning vomit from carpets, certain universal principles apply, regardless of the carpet's material. These general tips are your go-to guidelines to effectively manage any vomit stain on your carpet.

  • Act fast. The sooner you address the vomit, the easier it will be to clean.
  • Blot, don't rub. This prevents the vomit from getting deeper into the fibers.
  • Use white cloths or paper towels. This will prevent color transfer during cleaning.
  • Always spot test. Before applying any solution over a larger area, try it on a small, less-visible spot.


Preventing Future Incidents: Tips and Tricks

Maintaining your carpet and being prepared for future incidents is just as important as knowing how to clean up the current mess. These preventative measures can help you keep your carpet in its best condition and ready for any accidents.

  • Immediate response: The quicker you act, the easier it is to remove vomit stains.
  • Regular vacuuming: Keeps your carpet in optimal condition, ready to handle spills and stains.
  • Professional cleaning: For deep-set or recurring stains, a professional carpet cleaner might be necessary.

Once you've tackled the vomit stain, it's all about ensuring no lingering odor remains. You can sprinkle a natural deodorizer like baking soda on the cleaned area, leave to sit and then vacuum up to help with any remaining smells.


Remember, cleaning vomit from carpet isn't just about removing visible stains; it's about restoring your carpet to its original, fresh state. With these steps and tips, you're well-equipped to handle even the most challenging vomit situations, leaving your carpet looking and smelling as good as new.

This article was updated in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.