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How To Clean Up Vomit

How To Clean Up Vomit Graphic

Cleaning up vomit - be it your own or someone else's - is one of the more unpleasant cleaning tasks to do. Whether its in the house, outside or especially a car interior.

If not properly cleaned, vomit can leave stains, lingering odors, and can also make other people in the vicinity sick especially if its on a couch.

The trick to cleaning vomit is to get to work as quickly as possible, as dried vomit poses some extra challenges (not to mention dealing with the vomit stain).

Follow Chore-ology's step-by-step guide to cleaning vomit so your house can once again be free of that horrible vomit smell and unsightly stains.

Cleaning Up Vomit: What You'll Need

Grab the following tools and cleaning substances before you get started:

  • Rubber gloves

  • Trash bag

  • Vacuum cleaner

  • Pepermint or menthol rub (optional)

  • Cardboard or paper plate for scraping

  • Baking soda, cornstarch or cat litter

  • Wet wipes (optional)

  • Enzymatic cleaning solution

  • Cloth or rag

  • Water

  • Soap (dish soap or disinfectant soap)

  • Vinegar (optional)

  • Air freshener

How To Clean Up Vomit: Step-By-Step

Follow these steps for a vomit-free living space.

1. Wear personal protective gear

Before you can start cleaning, you need to protect yourself. Start by wearing rubber gloves.

You can also wear a mask to cover your face if needed.

If the vomit smell is overpowering, you can rub some menthol or peppermint rub under your nose.

Keep small children and pets away from the area.

If you're dealing with dried vomit, skip to step 5.

2. Remove most of the vomit

Use cardboard or a paper plate to scrape most of the vomit up off the floor. Try to get as much solid material as you can, as it will be much easier to deal with just the liquid.

Only use a spatula or plastic scoop if you're willing to toss it in the trash afterwards.

Once you've scooped up most of the vomit and dropped it in a trash bag, take the trash out to limit the spread of bacteria.

3. Sprinkle over an absorbent substance

Use baking soda, cat litter, or cornstarch to absorb the liquid. Cover the entire stain, making sure to not leave out a single droplet of vomit.

This is especially important if you're cleaning vomit out of carpet or soft furnishings. Allow the powder to dry completely over the stain.

4. Vacuum the area

Once the absorbent powder has dried, vacuum the area on the highest power setting. This should get rid of most of the vomit.

Consider using a brush attachment when vacuuming a carpet to disrupt the carpet fibers and reach all the vomit.

Immediately empty the vacuum and take out the trash.

5. Treat the stain

Next, it is time to tackle the vomit stain.

Wipe the area

For hard surfaces, use a disinfectant wipe or soapy cloth to wipe over the area after vacuuming.

Option 1: Using an enzymatic cleaner

Spray an enzyme-based cleaner over the stain. These cleaners can break down proteins and bacteria, helping to disinfect the area. You can buy an enzymatic cleaner at most pharmacies or online.

Follow the instructions on the product label.

Option 2: DIY cleaning solution

You can also use a DIY cleaning solution if you don't have an enzyme-based cleaner.

Mix two cups of warm water with a spoon of liquid dishwashing soap, half a cup of white vinegar and a few drops of rubbing alcohol. You can then use a spray bottle or cloth to blot the stain. Leave the cleaner to sit on the stain for around 5 minutes before wiping it up with a wet rag.

6. Rinse

Dip a clean cloth in some hot water and blot the stain. This will lift the last bit of vomit as well as the cleaning products you applied.

Blot dry and allow to air dry. Remember to wash your hands or take a shower if you got any vomit on yourself.

If you're cleaning up vomit on clothing, you can throw the clothes in the washing machine after this step and wash them normally.

7. Get rid of the smell

The vomit might be gone, but you might notice the smell lingering over the affected items such as mattresses.

The easiest way to get rid of any odors is to sprinkle some baking soda over where the stain used to be. Leave it on the area overnight. This will help absorb the remaining smells.

Vacuum the area in the morning.

As a final step, you can open all the windows to air out the room and spray some air freshener or light some candles to get rid of the smell once and for all.

When To Call In Professional Cleaners

Any parent with small children knows that cleaning up vomit is a normal part of their lives, but when is professional cleaning needed?

The following scenarios would require a professional biohazard decontamination team:

  • Large volume: If a lot of vomit is expelled in a public or commercial setting, professional cleaners will be called. For example, if a plane experiences bad turbulence and several people are sick, the plane will be professionally cleaned.

  • Porous surfaces: Carpets, drywalls, upholstery, and grout are all porous surfaces that can be near-impossible to clean properly yourself.

  • Hospitals, food establishments, and care facilities: These sensitive environments require strict cleanliness standards to be upheld.

  • Short on time: Professional cleaners can quickly and efficiently clean a wide range of surfaces.

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