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How to Clean Vomit from Carpet

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Through years of living in a home, it's almost assured that vomit will end up on the carpet at some point. With kids and pets, the possibility is even more likely. Though it can be a disgusting job, it's possible to completely clean vomit from carpet and eliminate any remaining stain or odor.

Before tackling the stain, the solid matter should be removed from the carpet. Using a towel, though, can actually push the matter down into the carpet fibers. A slim object should be used to scoop the vomit up and dispose of it in the trashcan or toilet.

  • solid spatula (metal or plastic)
  • dustpan
  • butter knife
  • spoon

Care should be taken not to scrape the carpet fibers or to press downward while scooping. This can drive the vomit deeper into the carpet and may even tear the fibers. Whatever object you use should, of course, be washed well in hot soapy water afterwards.

A dry cloth, preferably white so that it does not bleed any dye into the carpet, should then be used to absorb as much of the liquid matter as possible. It's important to avoid scrubbing the carpet since this will push the stain in deeper. Instead, a firm blotting motion can be used, starting with the outer edges of the soiled area and moving toward the center.

Various cleaners can be used to remove the stain and odor from the vomit-soiled area. It can be helpful to use a damp cloth to wet the area with cool water. This may help flush the soil a bit to make it easier to remove. A cleaner should then be applied to the area according to the product directions, if there are any, or according to the instructions below.

  • A commercial stain remover can be sprayed on the soil per the directions on the bottle.
  • Ammonia can be lightly poured over the area but should not be used if you have pets in the home. Since urine contains ammonia, pets may mistake an area cleaned with this product for a place that they should urinate.
  • A mild soap, such as dishwashing liquid or hand soap, can be mixed with warm water and very gently rubbed into the carpet. This cleanser will need to be rinsed well, however, because lingering soap residue will actually attract dirt over time.
  • Oxy-based cleaners can be effective at removing both the stain and odor left from vomit. They should used as specified in the product directions.
  • Hydrogen peroxide can be an effective alternative to oxy-cleaners. Poured or sprayed over the soil, it will bubble and fizz as it penetrates the fibers to clean the stain deep down.
  • A paste made of baking soda and water can be gently rubbed into the stain. It can be left until it dries and then vacuumed. Baking soda has wonderful odor-absorbing properties which make it a great way to get rid of any unpleasant vomit smell.

Any of these treatments may need to be repeated several times, and it can sometimes be helpful to use a combination of treatments--a mild soap cleaning followed by a baking soda paste, for example. If an odor remains after a day or two, baking soda or cornstarch sprinkled over the area can help to absorb the lingering smell.

If dried vomit is discovered on the carpet, a vacuum can be used to remove the solid matter. The area should then be dampened with cool or warm water using wet cloths. Any of the cleaning methods described above should then be completed as if the soil were fresh.

Before trying to clean vomit from carpet, any cleaning solution will need to be tested in an inconspicuous area. The cleaner should be applied as usual in a hidden spot and then allowed to dry. If the carpet fibers have faded or if the texture is changed, a different cleaner should be used instead.

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