21 February 2012

How to clean vomit from carpet? Talk amongst yourselves.

At Amazon: Amazon: Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (4 lb. box)
At Amazon: Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (4 lb. box)

It wouldn't be a proper flu season without a rousing discussion about PUKE. Right? So, let's help Emily with our best tips for cleaning vomit from carpet:

Got any great advice for cleaning carpet after the, uh, stomach flu? I'm specifically looking for tips for dealing with large, wet spots. I'm thinking about covering them with baking soda or baby powder, then vacuuming?

Any help is greatly appreciated. Sorry for the less than pleasant topic but I bet someone knows of a clever way to deal with throw-up!

Asha's Vomit-Carpet Cleaning Routine

Warning: it's descriptive.

You will need:

  • 2-3 old towels
  • A plastic garbage bag
  • Baking soda
  • Carpet cleaner (I use Resolve) and cleaning cloths (only if the carpet gets stained)
  • Vacuum cleaner

1. Scoop up the solid bits with a big, absorbent towel. 

I use a beach towel. BIG and ABSORBENT are key because you can wrap everything up in the towel and throw it straight in the washer. If there are a lot of solids, dump what you can in the toilet -- but usually the washer will take care of the worst of it. Throw towel #1 in the plastic bag.

2. With a second towel, blot the big, wet spots.

The more pressure, the more the towel will suck up moisture. Throw towel #2 in the plastic bag.

3. Only if the vomit leaves a stain, saturate the stain with carpet cleaner, and clean as directed.

It's rare that we need to do this, but when we do we use Resolve. Throw the cleaning cloths into the plastic bag.

4. Sprinkle the wet spot with baking soda.

Use more than you think you need to, and press it into the carpet with the corner of a towel. This will neutralize any smell. I keep a big box of baking soda on hand just for cleaning purposes.

5. Throw all the dirty laundry in the washer.

You'll be so glad you did this right away. If you don't have a washer, you've got everything sealed up in a plastic bag, ready for the laundromat.

6. Let the spot dry, then vacuum.

I've left the baking soda overnight with no problems.

7. Polish your parenting medal.

You know, the one you were awarded the last time you did this?

* * *

So there you have it. My throwup-cleaning routine, which may or may not be the best/easiest/most efficient.

Parenthackers: Can you improve upon my routine? How do you clean vomit out of carpet? Any product recommendations or special technique I'm missing?

Related: Baking soda deodorizes a mattress after a stomach flu disaster

More: Hacks for dealing with vomit

And: Tons of hacks in the Health archive

Your comments

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Last time my kid puked all over our relatively new carpet, I just called Stanley Steemer!

My daughter had a very sensitive stomach when she was a toddler, so she threw up OFTEN. I don't think there was a bit of carpet in our home that didn't get doused at some point. She threw up so regularly, I thought of her as my little "vomit comet."

I got so good at cleaning it up, I didn't even stress over it. I found that the best way was to use a sturdy metal tablespoon to scoop up the bits and deposit them in a trash bag. Then use the back of the spoon to press down hard as you scrape the area with the spoon almost flat. This is very effective at removing the liquid portion. Keep doing this all over the spot until you can't scoop anything more. Then rub the spot with a warm, wet kitchen towel. Repeat the process for scooping liquid. Treat with Resolve if there is any staining; otherwise, spray thoroughly with Frebreze.

That is really close to what I do. My washing machine doesn't do well with chunks, so I get them with a paper towel first (one of the few times I use paper towels!). I do the absorbing step with a combination of baking soda and cornstarch—the cornstarch absorbs so well.

May our children stay healthy. :)

After cleaning up the solids, we find the best thing to clean up anything biological (vomit, urine, and feces) is an enzyme cleaner. The ones we have found are marketing for cleaning up pet messes, but they work equally as well on human messes. The enzymes actually remove the waste (and oder), but don't stain or remove coloring. I've used in my car, on carpet, on mattresses, and in the wash.

Try using a spatula, they work well for anything solid that is on the floor... like dog messes, chunks of food, hairballs. They also work great for the scraping part. I transfer waste to a bag and wipe the excess on the bag as I go so I don't re-apply to the carpet. I also heartily second enzyme cleaners!

We bought enzyme cleaner (Simple Solution) for the cats and made good use of it with the kids. It was the only thing that got the baby vomit smell out of my pajamas.

Do children ever throw up somewhere other than carpet and blankets?

We have always used SImple Solution too.

One of our daughters threw up so many times-especially in the car. We bought a commercial steam cleaner. It is an expensive solution, at least $200. But, it removes all signs there was anything, disinfects and removes ALL odor in seconds-even if you can't get to it right away.

Yeah, I just use Nature's Miracle (pet stain cleaner). Spray, leave it 5 minutes, scrub with a wet washcloth, done. I also keep a bucket by the bed if anyone is sick.

This one is a no-brainer now, but totally invisible to me before a friend mentioned it.

You know how nurses wear disposable gloves? My friend's mom, a nurse, always gloved up when anyone got sick at home.

It prevents cross-contamination, especially if you have other kids in the house you're trying to keep well. With gloves on, it's easier to manipulate the chunkage.

I also start with 2 trash bags (one for laundry and one for trash) and do the first (chunk collection) step with paper towels.

It's also much easier if the barf never meets the carpet in the first place. We wrote some general barf tips back in (holy moly) 2007 that still ring true today: http://babytoolkit.blogspot.com/2007/04/barf-rama-coming-too-soon-to-home-near.html

As someone who has pets, a toddler, and has worked in the animal health field for many years, I deal with puke on the carpets at least once a week. My go to product is Nature's Miracle (PetSmart caries it in spray form or a big jug if your family is like mine). After I blot up the solids, I spray the dickens out of the spot with the NM and let it dry. The spray has enzymes that help break down odor and spot causing agents in the puke. Works every time. Also works for pee and poop on carpets on hard wood floors and works on furniture too.

Make sure to let the baking soda dry completely before vacuuming, or it will form a plaster & coat the inside of your vacuum.

Also, if baking soda doesn't get all the smell out, try vinegar.

Three little words....Little Green ProHeat. I swear by this thing - it's one of the best purchases we ever made. We have one child and 2 dogs so there's always a mess to clean up on the carpets or the sofas/chairs (we've got plain old IKEA furniture so don't have to dry clean). We've had our Little Green ProHeat for 6 years now and it's still going strong. We just use whatever carpet cleanser is on sale, but make sure it's got a deodorizer in it.

Another vote for Nature's Miracle. I first started using it when I had a vomity and hairbally cat and an off-white Berber carpet. Kept on using it after the cat passed and I acquired vomity kids. Expensive, but great stuff.

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