How to Clean up Vomit

Michelle Miley

Cleaning vomit isn't an enjoyable task, but it can be an important skill if you must take care of sick relatives or become ill yourself.

Nobody wants to even think about cleaning up vomit, let alone actually do it. But if you have kids or a bad case of the flu, it's a task you need to know how to do. If you're faced with this chore, make sure that you clean up the initial mess and remove any stains that would otherwise be left behind. The exact approach to cleaning vomit varies depending on the type of surface that has been soiled.


Vomit may contain bacteria and pathogens that cause illness in others. Always wear gloves when cleaning vomit, and, if they are available, wear a face mask and a disposable gown. Disinfect the area when possible to minimize the risk of others becoming ill. Wash the clothes you wore while cleaning as soon as possible.

Hard Surfaces

    Remove the Solids

  1. If the vomit contains a lot of solid pieces, scoop them up with a paper towel or disposable rag.

  2. Soak It Up

  3. Sprinkle baking soda, clumping cat litter or another liquid-soaking powder over the spill and let it sit for 10 or 15 minutes until it soaks up the liquid.

  4. Scoop It Up

  5. When the powder has absorbed the liquid, wipe it up with paper towels.

  6. Disinfect

  7. Mix a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. Wipe it onto the surface with a paper towel and allow it to sit for 10 to 20 minutes to disinfect the surface; next, rinse it using towels dampened with warm water. You can use disposable towels or clean bath towels for this step.

  8. Throw It Away

  9. Promptly dispose of all the used towels and any other related trash in a sealable trash bag.

Carpet and Furniture

    Blot the Moisture

  1. Remove any large pieces with a paper towel and dispose of them; then blot the stain with paper towels or an absorbent bath towel. Apply some pressure to help soak up as much of the stain as possible.

  2. Sprinkle It

  3. Sprinkle the spot with baking soda or corn starch to absorb the rest of the moisture. Allow the powdered substance to sit on the stain for 10 to 15 minutes, and then vacuum it up.

  4. Treat the Stain

  5. If any stain is left, treat it with carpet cleaner or a homemade mixture composed of 1 tablespoon of dish soap, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 2 cups of warm water. Sponge the cleaning solution onto the stain; blot the area with a paper towel until the liquid is absorbed and rinse it by blotting with a dry cloth.

  6. Tip

    Always test your cleaning solution in a discreet area of the fabric first to ensure it won't cause fading or discoloration.

    Do the Laundry

  7. Dispose of any paper towels or sponges you used in a sealable trash bag. If you used bath towels during the cleanup, launder them immediately.


    Remove the Excess

  1. Remove the article of clothing and get rid of any excess vomit or food chunks with a paper towel.

  2. Pretreat

  3. Pretreat the affected area of the clothing with a commercial laundry stain-removal product, especially an oxygen-based stain fighter.

  4. Launder

  5. Wash the soiled item immediately as you normally would. Use the hottest water setting you can without causing damage to the fabric.