Whether it’s yours, your child’s, or your pet’s, these tips on how to clean vomit will remove the stain and smell. Plus, five places you should clean to kill the stomach bug in your home.
Over the winter a stomach bug hit my house, leaving me to find out how to clean vomit while struggling with my own queasy stomach at 2 AM. That was a miserable night, I tell you, as were the following two weeks when it seemed like my son and I just kept passing the illness back and forth. Fortunately, I found a few tricks to deal with the smell and stains, along with 5 places to clean to put an end to illness.
How to Clean Vomit
It’s not a pleasant topic but it is a fact of life: people puke, and pets do, too. If you’re already suffering from a stomach bug yourself, it’s hard to find the energy to deal with a foul mess when all you want to do is make the room stop spinning. Here’s help.
Cleaning the Mess
The faster you deal with vomit, the less likely it is to leave a stain behind. In the case of a virus going around the house, treating the mess immediately will also reduce recurrences.
1. Protect yourself: For some of us, simply smelling vomit will make us start gagging. To prevent this, wipe a small amount of Vick’s VapoRub under your nose. Chewing mint-flavored gum is another suggestion. Also, slip on some rubber gloves if you’re cleaning after someone who is receiving chemo or who has a highly-contagious illness.
2. Scrape it up: Get up as much of the mess as you can by scraping it with a paper plate, which you can then simply throw away. A dust pan (or even a regular dinner plate) that you can dump into the toilet also works, but be sure to wash it in hot, soapy water right away.
3. Soak it up: Sprinkle the remaining mess generously with baking soda. This will soak up any remaining liquid while also counteracting odor. If you’re out of baking soda, cornstarch works, too, although it doesn’t have the deodorizing effect. At this point, you can throw a towel over the spot and go back to bed if it’s the middle of the night, or if you’re sick, too.
4. Vacuum it up: When the baking soda or cornstarch have dried the mess you can simply vacuum (or sweep) up what’s left. If you do use a vacuum cleaner, be sure to empty and wash the canister or change the bag immediately to keep bacteria from growing in your machine. (ALSO SEE: How to Clean a Vacuum Cleaner.)
Removing the Stain
In most situations, lightly cleaning the area with soap and water, followed by a plain water rinse, is enough to get rid of the stain. Take care that you don’t saturate carpets while doing this or you risk causing mold in the carpet padding. For tougher stains, try the following spray.
Vomit Stain Spray
1 cup warm water
1 cup white vinegar, heated
1 tsp. liquid dish detergent (not a moisturizing formula)
1. Combine ingredients in a spray bottle.
2. Spray the area until just damp then blot using a clean white cloth. Do not rub with the cloth or you may spread the stain. Rotate the cloth as needed so you are always working with a clean area.
3. Repeat until the stain is gone, blotting each time until almost entirely dry.
4. Once the stain is gone AND the area is thoroughly dry, spray it lightly with rubbing alcohol (surgical spirits in the UK) to disinfect it completely. Or, dab the area with a small amount of unscented, colorless Purell or another hand sanitizer. Keep pets and small children away from the spot until it’s fully dry.
Clean These Areas To Stop The Stomach Bug
Stomach viruses are highly contagious and spread when family members come in contact with surfaces where the virus lingers. Cleaning these areas repeatedly using a disinfecting cleanser will reduce the risk of transmission. (See, DIY Disinfecting Spray.)
1. Eating utensils, glasses, and plates: If you wash dishes by hand, you’ll want to add 2 tablespoons of bleach to the rinse water to disinfect them. For those using dishwashers, use the sanitizing rinse setting.
2. Frequently touched surfaces: Wipe TV remotes, light switches, computer keyboards, and doorknobs with a disinfecting wipe. It’s a good idea to repeat this several times each day while the illness is active in your home.
3. Bedding and towels: Wash these daily if possible, using the hottest and longest setting on your machine. Run them through the dryer on high heat, or line dry them in bright sunshine, to kill remaining virus cells. (See, How to Line Dry.)
4. Bathrooms: Throwing up is awful enough; doing it in a filthy toilet makes the experience even more miserable. Since the stomach flu is transmitted through both feces and vomit, it’s important to clean your toilet well repeatedly while people are sick in your home. To do this, scrub the toilet with a brush daily and spray or wipe the handle, seat, basin, and rim every time the sick person uses it. (See, Homemade Disinfecting Wipes.)
5. Toothbrushes: While the stomach bug is running its course, wash the sick person’s toothbrush in the dishwasher (which you’re already running on the sanitary rinse setting) or soak it in a fresh glass of Listerine after each use. Keep their toothbrush away from those belonging to other family members, too. Once the illness is over, buy new toothbrushes for the whole family.
Remember: this, too, shall pass.
When everyone in the household has been sick with the stomach flu, including you, it’s hard to feel like life will ever get back to normal. Fortunately, the stomach flu usually runs its course in 1 to 3 days. If you’re diligent about cleaning the mess and treating surfaces to reduce transmission, you and your family should be back on their feet in no time!