How To Clean Poop

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Steps to clean poop stains, kill germs, and eliminate odors on various household surfaces and fabrics.

A man in a blue shirt and jeans holds his hands over his bottom to hide a poop stainPin

At some point in everyone’s life, we’re going to find ourselves wondering how to clean poop. Maybe you have a pet or two. Maybe your child isn’t catching on to potty training just yet. Maybe you or a family member caught a horrible stomach virus. Whatever the reason, accidents happen. Most of us respond by wanting to scrub and sanitize the surface right away, too. And that’s a good thing, for many reasons.

Poop Contains Dangerous Germs

Dog poop can contain various parasites that are dangerous to humans, including hookworm, tapeworm, roundworm (okay, a ton of different kinds of worms), along with giardia and coccidia. While cat lovers may consider their pets cleaner, feline poop is also dangerous and can contain all of the same worms plus toxoplasma gondii, or T. gondii.

Other people’s poop is incredibly dangerous, too. The bacteria in human poop is easily transferred to one’s hands while cleaning, which inevitably leads to what’s known as oral-fecal contamination. Eww, right?

In addition to convincing yourself that your poop doesn’t stink, you may also rest assured your poop probably won’t make you sick. In fact, some experts — yes, there are experts about poop — say that ingesting your own poop might actually be healthy. (I think I’ll pass on that one — no pun intended.) But, unless you live alone and never have anyone over, touch anything, or go anywhere, you should still clean up your own poop ASAP, because ew.

How to Get Poop Out of Diapers and Clothes


  • Cleaning gloves
  • Two disposable plastic bags
  • Cleaning cloths or paper towels
  • A laundry stain remover containing enzymes* (I use Zout)
  • Your regular laundry detergent
  • Chlorine bleach or white vinegar

* Enzymes are proteins that dissolve the bonds between the poop and fabric. In addition to cleaning, they’ll help remove the stain, too.

Step 1: Scrape or Rinse

Heat can make poop stains permanent, so you need to work with only cold water at this point. Put your gloves on and carry the item to the bathroom. Dump as much of the crud into the toilet as you can, flushing as needed. For small items, hang onto a corner of them while flushing several times to wash away as much of the mess as possible. Rinse larger items in a bathtub.

Step 2: Apply Enzyme Cleaner

You can do this in the toilet or tub. Be sure to disinfect afterward. Add roughly 2 tablespoons of the enzyme-containing treatment to the toilet bowl or 1/2 cup to a tub containing a couple of inches of cold water. Let the item soak for 30 minutes. Flush or drain, then squeeze out excess water.

Step 3: Launder and Dry

Now that you’ve treated the stain, it’s time to disinfect it. Wash the item in hot water with a hot rinse using either 3/4 cup chlorine bleach or 2 cups white vinegar and your regular laundry detergent. If you don’t have a washing machine, hand wash the item in a tub or a bucket using 1/4 cup chlorine bleach or 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1-gallon hot water. Once it’s clean, dry it in either your dryer or line-dry it in the sun — both help kill germs.

How to Clean Poop from Upholstery and Carpet


  • Cleaning gloves
  • A disposable plastic bag
  • Something to scrape with (a paper plate you can toss works nicely)
  • White cleaning cloths or paper towels
  • A laundry treatment containing enzymes (like Zout)
  • A bowl
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol (known as surgical spirits in the UK)

1. Remove the Mess

Put your gloves on and grab a plastic bag. Use a paper plate to scoop up as much poop as possible and dump it in the bag. Wipe away the rest with a paper towel and toss it in the bag, too. Get a few paper towels damp with cold water and wipe, not rub, to remove more crud.

2. Clean the Area

In a bowl, combine 1 quart of cold water with 2 tablespoons of a laundry treatment containing enzymes. Get a white cloth or paper towel wet and dab at the stain to remove poop and discoloration. (Don’t saturate your carpet or upholstery!) The reason for using a white cloth is so you don’t transfer dyes from the fabric to your carpet, and so you can see when it’s time to rotate your cloth, so you’re always working with a clean area. Once you’ve got all the mess up, let the area air-dry.

3. Disinfect the Spot

Cleaning is just the first step to getting poop out of carpeting or upholstery. Once it’s gone, you need to disinfect the area as well. To do this, dab the spot with isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, which is safe on fabrics and microsuede and microfiber furniture. Don’t saturate the padding; wipe the surface and let it air dry. For carpet, vacuum thoroughly to restore the nap. You may also want to shampoo your carpet, too.

How to Clean Poop on Other Surfaces


Cleaning gloves
A disposable plastic bag
Something to scrape with (a paper plate works well)
Cleaning cloths or paper towels
Disinfecting spray or wipes

Use a Two-Step Process

When it comes to very germy things like poop, you need to use a two-step cleaning process and then disinfect since too much bacterial mess keeps disinfectants from eliminating all the germs.

The first step to cleaning poop is always removing the mess. Put on rubber gloves and use paper towels to scoop up as much poop from the surface as you can. Toss the soiled materials into the plastic bag but don’t close it yet. Then, soak some more paper towels with hot water and wipe up the remaining mess. Add these to the plastic bag and dispose of the whole thing.

Once cleaned, you need to disinfect the spot to eliminate dangerous bacteria. To do this, wet the area liberally with disinfectant and let it sit for 5 minutes. If you’re using a store-bought disinfectant, use the time directed on the manufacturer’s label. Then wipe the area again with clean water and let it air dry.

And there you have it, the full poop on how to clean poop. Remember, to avoid cross-contaminating other places in your home, you should probably shower and change clothes as soon as you’re done.

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  1. Betsy Applebaum says:

    Give examples of “disinfectants”. Are we talking “bleach”?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      It depends on which surface you’re cleaning. In the article, I specify which disinfectant to use for each method under the list of equipment.