Whether you’re struggling through a stomach bug, handling a hangover, or caring for a sick child, vomit(unfortunately) happens. On bad days, it happens on soft surfaces like carpets, mattresses, and upholstery rather than wipe-clean bathroom tiles.


If you’re having one of those days, don’t fear, help is on the way. In this blog, we’ll go through exactly how to get sick out of a carpet or rug using products found inmost UK households. In next to no time, it’ll be like nothing ever happened.


Why are Vomit Stains so Bad?


Vomit is acidic and contains enzymes that can quickly discolour and degrade carpet fibres. The combination of stomach acids, food particles, and bile can penetrate deeply into carpets, creating difficult-to-remove stains that look and smell very unpleasant.


Sick can also harbour nasty bacteria and pathogens which could make others in your home unwell through exposure. This makes prompt, thorough cleaning extremely important.


Read our Blog: “7 Messes Your Children Make (and what to do about them)”

sick stain


How to Protect Yourself When Cleaning up Sick


Cleaning vomit requires direct contact with biohazardous material, so personal protection needs to be a high priority. 


Sick resulting from a contagious illness can be a particularly high risk substance, but you should always be careful when cleaning vomit, even if you feel confident the person doesn’t have a stomach bug.


Here’s how you can safeguard your health during the clean-up process:

  • Gloves: Always wear disposable gloves to prevent skin contact with vomit and protect yourself from bacteria and viruses.
  • Face Mask: A mask can help you to avoid inhaling airborne particles and protect your nose from the odour
  • Protective Apron: Wearing an apron or old clothing can safeguard your clothes from stains and splashes.
  • Ventilation: Keep the area well-ventilated to disperse airborne particles and help air out     the smell

Some professionals recommend wearing sunglasses, which can help you feel more distanced from the job if you start getting queasy. They can also protect your eyes from bacteria in the air. However, they can also make it more difficult to distinguish how well a stain has been cleaned.


Ifyou do start feeling sick yourself, take a short break, ideally out in the openair. To cope with unpleasant smells while cleaning, you can also try dabbing a small amount of essential oil on your face mask, or the old favourite of vapour rub under your nose.


Getting Sick Out of a Carpet - A Step-by-Step Guide

poorly child


1.  Scrape Up the Solids


Use a scraper, plastic spoon, or a piece of cardboard to gently lift any solid matter off of the carpet and into a sturdy bin bag. 


Make sure to scrape from the outside in so the stain doesn’t get any bigger. If you use cardboard, this should also be binned immediately afterwards. If this method proves difficult, you can alternatively use a bin bag as an extra glove to directly collect the sick.


Doing this minimises the risk of spreading the stain further and makes the cleaning process more manageable.


2. Blot the Stain


Employ paper towels or clean, dry cloths to blot the area gently. The aim here is to remove as much liquid as possible without rubbing the stain into the carpet fibres. 

Again, disposable materials like paper towels should go in the rubbish immediately. Reusable cloths will need a wash at a high temperature to get rid of lingering bacteria.


3. The Bicarbonate of Soda Treatment


Bicarbonate of soda, also known as baking soda, is very effective at absorbing moisture and neutralising odours. 


Generously sprinkle baking soda over the entire affected area and let it sit for at least 15 minutes or longer for stronger odours. Once the baking soda has done its job, simply vacuum it up.


4. Use a Cleaning Solution


There are a few different cleaning solution options you can use at this point in proceedings, including both commercial cleaners and home remedies. You can read about these later.


If in doubt, a good all-rounder solution is to combine two cups of warm water with a tablespoon of washing up liquid and a tablespoon of white vinegar in a spray bottle. 

This concoction is particularly effective at breaking down the acidic components of vomit and can be gently applied to the stained area. Use a sponge or cloth to apply the mixture, blotting gently to treat the stain without soaking the carpet.


5. Eliminate the Odour


Persistent odours may require a second application of baking soda. After the initial cleaning, sprinkle baking soda over the area once more, allowing it to sit overnight to absorb any lingering smells fully. 


Vacuum thoroughly the following day. This process may need to be repeated to completely neutralise the odour.


If this still doesn’t achieve the result you’d like, some further options to try include:

  • Using a vinegar solution
  • Steam cleaning the carpet
  • Turning on an air purifier in the room
  • Using a shop-bought de-odouriser (check this is suitable for your carpet type and any pets first

6. Disinfect the Area


Use a disinfectant spray on the area to get rid of any left over bacteria which might be a threat to your household.


What Cleaning Solution to Use to Get Rid of a Sick Stain


When it comes to homemade solutions, we recommend our solution of vinegar, water, and dish soap as an all-rounder. If you dislike the smell of vinegar, lemon juice can be used as an alternative. Some people like to add a small amount of essential oil to the solution to help cover the smell.

natural cleaning products


If you’d rather use a shop bought option, here’s a few you’re likely to find at the supermarket under various brand names:


Enzymatic cleaners 


These stand out for their ability to tackle organic stains and odours at a molecular level, making them a powerful option for stubborn messes. They’re commonly used to neutralise pet stains. Safe for use around pets and children, these cleaners are ideal for challenging stains but come at a higher cost compared to DIY solutions. They may also need to sit longer to be effective.


Oxygen-based cleaners


This form of cleaner is praised for its stain removal and carpet brightening capabilities, offering an eco-friendly solution. However, their potency means overuse could potentially damage carpet fibres, and they're not suitable for all types of carpets. These cleaners are best used on lighter-coloured carpets and non-delicate materials.


Hydrogen peroxide 


This offers bleaching and disinfecting properties, making it effective for stain removal. The risk of bleaching or damaging some carpet fibres does require caution, such as conducting a patch test before use. This makes it most suitable for light-coloured carpets and for spot treatments in well-ventilated areas.


Treating Discoloration


Discolouration from vomit stains can be stubborn. If you notice lingering marks after cleaning, you may need to use a shop bought carpet cleaning solution designed for organic stains. 


These products are formulated to tackle discolouration and restore your carpet’s appearance. As always, perform a patch test on an inconspicuous area to ensure the cleaner does not adversely affect your carpet.


When to Call in the Professionals


Dealing with vomit on your carpet is undoubtedly unpleasant, but with the right approach and techniques, it’s possible to mitigate the damage and restore your carpet to its original condition. However, despite your best efforts, some stains might prove too challenging to remove with DIY methods. This is when professional carpet cleaners such as A Cleaning Service come into play. 


Equipped with advanced cleaning technologies and solutions, our experts can effectively remove vomit stains and odours, leaving your carpet looking and smelling fresh. Additionally, professional cleaning can extend the life of your carpet by removing debris that might degrade its fibres over time.


If you’re based in Bristol, Bath, or South Wales, why not give our professionals a call, or find out more about our industry-leading carpet cleaning services.