How to Clean Vomit from a Mattress?

Written by: Alex Savy
Read 6 minLast updated March 26, 2020

A lot of conditions, such as food poisoning or viruses, can cause vomiting. 

And it gets even worse when you don’t make it to your bathroom and accidentally vomit on your bed when another spasm happens.

So, what’s next? How to clean vomit from a mattress if the accident has happened? And how to get rid of that foul smell?

The simple answer: act fast and keep the cleaning agents (e.g. baking soda, vinegar, o rubbing alcohol) as well as a roll of paper towels within reach.

If you want to find out how and when to use them for maximum efficiency, read on!

#1 Wipe the Vomit Off the Mattress

Wipe the Vomit Off the Mattress

The first thing to do is to actually get the vomit out of a mattress. Act quickly so that it won’t soak too deep into the mattress layers where it will be almost impossible to get rid of.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Put rubber gloves on. The vomit, along with being highly acidic, can contain germs and bacteria, so it’s better to minimize contact with it.
  • Scrape the solid particles out. You may use a dustpan to remove the solids and flush them down the toilet. Then, wash the dustpan thoroughly under the tap water. Alternatively, you can take a paper plate — the one that is typically used for barbecue — and scrape the vomit with it. Place it into the trash bag and then tie it. Finally, you can take a couple of paper towels and collect the vomit by hand.
  • Remove the bedding. Take off your sheets and pillows and throw them into the washer. Wash them according to care instructions, but it’s advisable to set an additional rinse cycle just to make sure that all the filth will be washed away.

If vomit has got into your pillow, don’t worry. Solid memory foam or latex pillows can be washed with lukewarm water and a soft cleaning detergent. Just be sure to allow them to completely dry before you put them back to bed.

Buckwheat or shredded fill pillows with a zipper can also be fixed by removing and discarding the spoiled filling. Also, you may want to take the remaining filling out and aerate it to eliminate the odor. Then, wash the encasement and assemble your pillow once it’s dry. 

“Using a scented solution, e.g. by adding peppermint or citrus to your washing detergent, can mask the residual odor until it dissipates completely.”

#2 Soak Out the Liquid

Once you’ve removed all the solid parts, it’s time to deal with the liquid:

  • Use an old rag or towel. They can soak more liquid than the standard paper towel, and you can always throw them away after the job is done.
  • Do not press too tightly. Pressing can get the liquid into the deeper layers of the mattress. Instead, go with light blotting motions to avoid spreading the liquid around.

Repeat until there’s no excess liquid remaining. 

Now, you can move on to the next step.

#3 Deal With the Stain

Here comes the most important step of cleaning vomit off the mattress — removing a stain. 

There are several ways to do that: 

You can use a mild soap solution, a vinegar solution, or baking soda.

Let’s break down each of them.

Mild Soap Solution

To prepare the Deal With the Staincleaning liquid, mix one part of mild soap with three parts of warm water in a container. 

Then, take a towel or rag and soak it in this solution. Spot clean the stain by blotting it until it disappears.

“Mild soap works well for removing oily particles and deodorizing the mattress, so it should be used as a first-line treatment for any stains.”

Let the mattress dry completely or use a hairdryer on a low setting to speed up the process.

Vinegar Solution

This method is somewhat similar to the previous one. 

Mix three parts of water with one part of vinegar. Use white vinegar, not the apple cider, because the latter is less concentrated and has a color that can make the stain more noticeable.

Soak the towel and blot the surface of the stain. Don’t rub too much and do not use too much solution as it can go deep into foam layers and damage them. 

Vinegar has good antimicrobial properties and is volatile, so it can remove the vomit odor as the solution dries.

Baking Soda

Finally, if you do not have any of the above, the plain baking soda will do. It can absorb the liquid and odors equally well.

All you need to do is to sprinkle a thick layer of baking soda above the stained area and let it dry. Then, just collect the large lumps by hand — but use rubber gloves — and vacuum the dust.

“You can use corn starch or potato starch instead of soda. They can soak in the liquid but don’t have deodorizing properties, so you’ll have to deal with the smell separately.”

#4: Deodorize and Disinfect

Finally, after you’ve cleaned vomit out of a mattress, you have to remove the odor. 

And here are some proven solutions to help you do that:

  • Rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol is volatile, so it can bind odor molecules and dissipate them into the air. Place some amount of rubber alcohol into a pulverizer and generously sprinkle it above the stained area. Let it completely dry and repeat if needed. Along with removing odors, rubbing alcohol also helps clean the germs and disinfect the area.
  • Enzyme cleaner. Enzyme cleaners use active components that can break down proteins, fats, and other organic particles, thereby removing the odor. You can purchase them in the store or even use a pet urine cleaner if you have one because it works in the same way. Again, generously sprinkle the cleaner above the stained area and let it dry. As it dries, you may feel that the odor becomes stronger — don’t worry, though, it’s the odor molecules that were hidden in the deep layers are airing out. The smell will diminish as the solution dries.
  • New cover. Finally, you can encase a mattress in a waterproof mattress protector. This will not only protect it from any possible accidents in the future but will also lock the residual odor inside, thereby making a mattress more comfortable to sleep.

#5 Dry It Out

And the very last step of cleaning your mattress is to ensure that it will completely dry. 

Because any residual moisture locked in the mattress layers can result in mold development

And given the fact that the vomit liquid can contain bacteria, you can easily turn your mattress into a germ colony by promoting a damp environment inside.

So, in order to dry your mattress completely, it’s better to leave it overnight in a ventilated room. If the weather permits, open your windows. Or, use a fan — place it pointing to the stained area so that it will help the moisture evaporate.

You can also use a hairdryer. Just be sure to set it on cold stream settings. If you use hot air, do not place the hairdryer too close to the mattress, as it can damage the foam. Keeping it 8-10 inches away is safe.

Have you tried any of these tips to clean your mattress? What were the results? Please share your experience below!

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