How to Remove Vomit Stains on Clothing

Dealing with vomit stains on clothing can be an unpleasant and challenging task. Vomit contains acidic digestive juices that can set into fabric quickly, making stain removal tricky. However, with the right techniques and products, you can successfully remove fresh and dried vomit stains from clothes and restore them to their original condition. This comprehensive guide will provide useful tips and methods for tackling vomit stains on any type of fabric.

Act Quickly for Fresh Vomit Stains

When vomit is fresh, it is imperative to act quickly while the stain is still wet. This will prevent the acids in the vomit from setting into the fibers of the fabric. Here are some tips for handling fresh vomit stains:

Rinse With Cold Water

  • As soon as possible after the incident, rinse the soiled area under cold running water. Cold water can help dilute the acids and keep them from setting into the fabric.

Blot Gently

  • After rinsing, gently blot the stain with a clean, absorbent cloth or paper towels. Do not rub vigorously as this can grind the stain deeper into the fabric.

Pre-treat With Stain Remover

  • Apply a pre-wash stain remover or spray to help lift and loosen the stain. Look for enzymatic cleaners designed for protein-based stains.

Soak in Vinegar Solution

  • Make a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 1 part cold water. Soak the stained area for 10-15 minutes to help neutralize acids.

Wash Immediately

  • As soon as possible, wash the item in the washing machine using cold water and your regular detergent. For heavy stains, use a biological detergent containing enzymes.

Tackling Dried Vomit Stains

If the vomit stain has already dried on the fabric, removal becomes more challenging. Dried vomit can leave behind an unsightly crust and stain. Try these methods for removing stubborn, set-in vomit stains:

Loosen Crusty Matter

  • Use a dull knife or spoon to gently scrape and lift any chunks or hardened crust on the surface of the fabric. Avoid vigorous scraping which can damage fibers.

Sprinkling Baking Soda

  • Liberally sprinkle baking soda over the stain and let sit for several hours. The baking soda will help absorb and neutralize acid residues.

Vinegar Soak

  • In a bucket or sink, mix together 1 cup white vinegar, 1 cup warm water, and 1 tablespoon liquid dish soap. Soak the stained item for up to 8 hours, longer for severe stains.

Boiling Water

  • In a pot, bring water to a boil. Hold the stain over the pot of steaming water to help loosen and lift dried material. Do not allow the fabric to touch the water.

Enzyme Cleaner

  • Look for an enzyme-based stain remover specially designed for protein stains like vomit and blood. Spray it directly on the stain and allow it to sit for 15-30 minutes before washing.

Oxygen Bleach Soak

  • Mix an oxygen bleach like Oxiclean with warm water. Soak the stained garment for at least 8 hours before washing. This can help lift stubborn set-in stains.

Wash in Hot Water

  • Once pre-treated, wash the item in the hottest water recommended for the fabric, using an enzyme detergent. For whites, use chlorine bleach if safe for the fabric.

Stain Removal Methods by Fabric Type

Certain vomit stain removal techniques work better with specific fabric types. Here is a breakdown of the best methods based on different fabrics:

Cotton and Linen Items

  • These natural fiber fabrics can typically withstand vigorous stain removal methods. Use hot water, enzyme cleaners, vinegar solutions, and even chlorine bleach if needed.

Wool and Cashmere

  • Handle these delicate fabrics gently. Limit soaking time in solutions. Wash by hand in cool water using a wool detergent. Avoid chlorine bleach.

Silk and Rayon

  • Blot stains on silk or rayon immediately with water and a mild soap solution. Avoid vigorous scrubbing. Use only cool water and gentle cleaners. Do not bleach.

Polyester and Synthetic Blends

  • Manmade fibers can handle enzyme cleaners, oxygen bleach soaks, and machine washing in warm to hot water. Avoid prolonged soaking.

Leather and Suede

  • Softly brush dry vomit off leather or suede then use leather cleaner and conditioner to remove any remaining stain. Avoid oversaturating leather.

Helpful Products for Vomit Stain Removal

Having the right vomit stain removal products on hand can make the cleaning process easier and more effective. Here are some recommended products:

  • Enzyme-based cleaners – Look for enzymatic pre-treat sprays and detergents designed for protein-based stains. Examples: Biokleen Bac-Out, Zout, OxiClean.
  • Vinegar – White distilled vinegar helps neutralize acids and lift stains. Always dilute with water before using.
  • Dish soap – A small amount of mild liquid dish soap boosts the effectiveness of other cleaning solutions.
  • Hydrogen peroxide – At full strength, hydrogen peroxide can bubble up dried vomit stains from fabric. Rinse thoroughly after use.
  • Baking soda – Baking soda absorbs odors and neutralizes acids for stain removal. Allow it to sit on fabric for hours before washing.
  • Oxygen bleach – Non-chlorine oxygen bleach helps whiten stains and brighten fabric, great for set-in stains.
  • Woolite – For delicate fabrics, use a gentle cleaner like Woolite instead of regular detergent when laundering.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Treating Vomit Stains

Follow these detailed steps for the most effective vomit stain removal process:

Inspect Stain

  • Examine stain closely to determine age and severity. Take note of fabric type.

Rinse Back of Stain

  • Hold stained area of garment under cold running water, rinsing from the back to push stain through fabric.

Blot Wet Stain

  • Place clean absorbent cloths or paper towels under and over stain. Press gently to blot up excess moisture.

Pre-Treat with Solution

  • Select a pre-wash stain remover or make a DIY solution like vinegar and dish soap. Apply directly to stain.

Allow Solution to Penetrate

  • Let the pre-treatment solution or homemade cleaner sit and work for 10-15 minutes before washing.

Rinse and Check Stain

  • Rinse pre-treated area under cold water. Check to see if the stain has lifted at all.

Repeat Pre-Treatment if Needed

  • For stubborn stains, apply pre-treatment cleaner again and let sit longer before washing.

Wash Promptly

  • Machine or hand wash item as soon as possible after pre-treating using proper water temperature and detergent.

Dry Thoroughly

  • Tumble dry on low heat or allow to air dry fully to avoid setting in any remaining stain.

Inspect After Washing

  • Double check that the stain has been completely removed after washing and drying the item.

Spot Clean if Stain Remains

  • For any traces of stain left, spot clean with pre-treat spray, vinegar, or oxygen bleach before washing again.

Special Tips and Tricks

Beyond the basics, here are some additional tips and tricks for getting out even the toughest vomit stains:

  • For heavier stains, apply pre-treatment cleaners in layers, allowing time for each application to soak in before adding more.
  • If baking soda paste does not fully lift a dried stain after several hours, try gently rubbing it in with a soft toothbrush.
  • Forfabric prone to dye loss,check stain remover on an inconspicuous area first to ensure color safety.
  • Once a stain appears gone, smell the spot closely to make sure no odor remains, then spot clean again if needed.
  • Try laying the stained area out in direct sunlight to help naturally bleach and fade any remaining discoloration after washing.
  • If stains persist through multiple washings, try professional dry cleaning for a deep, chemical clean. Warn cleaners about stain in advance.

Common Questions and Answers

Still have some questions about dealing with vomit stains? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

How do I get vomit smell out of clothes?

  • Rinsing right away helps remove vomit odor. Using an enzymatic cleaner or soaking in vinegar also helps deodorize. Make sure to wash clothes thoroughly after pre-treating to eliminate smell. Air dry in sunlight for extra freshness.

Can you get vomit stains out of white clothes?

  • Yes, vomit stains can be removed from white clothes through prompt treatment followed by washing with bleach. Soak in an Oxiclean solution before washing for best results. Avoid hot water on protein stains which can set them.

What removes dried vomit from carpets?

  • For carpets, blot up any solids then use an enzyme cleaner made for carpets and pet stains. Allow significant dwell time before extraction cleaning. You may need professional carpet cleaning for embedded dried vomit stains.

What gets rid of vomit in car fabric?

  • Act quickly to soak up excess vomit from car upholstery using old rags or paper towels. Apply an enzyme cleaner and let it sit for 15 minutes before blotting and extraction cleaning. Follow up by shampooing the carpets.

Can you get vomit out of suede?

  • Suede can be challenging but vomit stains can come out with careful treatment. First brush crusty bits off the surface then use suede cleaner and a soft brush working in light circles. Avoid over-wetting suede which can damage the nap.

When to Call a Professional

While it is possible to remove many vomit stains at home, some scenarios may require calling in a professional cleaner:

  • If stain has set into carpeting and padding underneath
  • For vomit stains on furniture with cushions and hidden crevices
  • When stains cover a large area of fabric or clothing item
  • If a valuable heirloom piece has been damaged
  • When stains persist after multiple attempts at home removal
  • If home treatment inadvertently damages or discolors the item

Professionals have access to stronger chemical cleaners and extraction methods to deep clean stubborn stains out of fabric, upholstery, and carpeting. For severe cases of damage, restoration specialists may be able to repair or replace ruined items.


Dealing with vomit stains in clothing, carpets, upholstery and more is admittedly unpleasant. However, acting quickly and using the right removal methods can allow you to successfully tackle even the toughest stains. With an arsenal of homemade solutions, commercial cleaners, and stain-fighting techniques, you can erase the evidence of vomit stains and restore your items to a like-new condition. Just be sure to always read clothing labels, test on inconspicuous areas, and handle delicate fabrics with care. With some elbow grease and patience, your clothes, carpets and upholstery can come out fresh, clean and stain-free.