How to Clean Vomit from a Mattress

By Geoff McKinnen Certified Sleep Coach

Last Updated On April 18th, 2024
How to Clean Vomit from a Mattress

We’ve all been there – an unexpected stomach upset leads to a mess on your mattress. Or maybe you’re a parent who has to clean up puke after a child’s illness, or perhaps a pet ate something they shouldn’t have and you have to get rid of the digusting aftermath.

While it might seem like a daunting task, and while it’s by no means pleasant, cleaning vomit of all kinds from your mattress can be manageable with the right approach and a positive attitude. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps to effectively and efficiently clean your mattress, leaving it fresh and stain-free.

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Steps to Clean Vomit from a Mattress

Let’s look at how to clean vomit from a mattress, going through the essential steps to ensure a fresh and hygienic sleeping surface.

Act Quickly

Act quickly when vomit ends up on the mattress surface. Make use of a paper plate or dustpan along with a roll of paper towel to gently scrape the vomit from the bed and bedding. Dispose of the vomit in the trash or flush it down the toilet. By taking swift action, you can prevent the stain and odor from becoming harder to remove, making the cleaning process a lot smoother.

Admittedly, this isn’t always possible. Sometimes, for example, you’ll be surprised hours later by a bit of vomit your pet left you. But when you can, tackle the issue as immediately as possible.

Remove Bedding

Gather up your bedding, even if it doesn’t seem touched by vomit, and throw it in the washing machine. Yes, sheets, comforters or duvets, blankets, pillowcases, and more should all be washed to best keep odors from lingering and any germs from making you sick. Wash in hot water to best kill any harmful germs.

This principle applies even if you have a mattress protector and don’t have to worry about extensive mattress cleanup. Washing the mattress protector will ensure thorough cleanliness and hygiene, eliminating any odors or contaminants.

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Gather Your Cleaning Supplies

Before you begin cleaning the mattress, ensure you gather all the essential supplies: a roll of paper towel or absorbent cloths, mild liquid detergent, warm water in a bowl, baking soda, a spray bottle filled with white vinegar, and don’t forget to wear rubber gloves for protection and bring along a plastic bag for what you’ll just be tossing.

Remove Solid Particles

To remove any remaining vomit liquid, use paper towels or a clean cloth to gently pick up solid waste from the mattress. Use another paper plate to scrape any solids from the surface and immediately dispose of the plate in a plastic bag. Be careful not to spread the mess while doing so.

Blot the Stain

The goal of blotting is to remove excess moisture without pushing the stain further into the mattress. Gently blot the affected area with paper towels or cloths to absorb as much liquid as possible, remembering not to rub the stain to avoid pushing it deeper into the mattress fibers and making the mess worse. If the cloth becomes saturated, switch to a dry one or a new section of the paper towel.

Continue blotting until the area feels relatively dry to the touch. This will help prevent the liquid from seeping deeper into the mattress fibers. Once you’ve blotted the wet area, you’re ready to proceed with the actual cleaning.

Create Cleaning Solutions

The first cleaning potion you’ll want to mix up is warm water and dish soap in a bowl or similar container. Get the water soapy and grab a fresh cloth to dip into it, then use this wet cloth to dab lightly at the stained area.

If you still want to give the area some attention, try a solution of three parts water to one part vinegar and a dash of mild dish soap. The combination of these ingredients will help break down stains and eliminate germs and odors, ensuring a thorough and refreshing clean for your mattress.

Treat with White Vinegar

Once you’ve removed the excess liquid from the mattress, fill a spray bottle with equal parts white vinegar and water, then gently spray the affected area with the solution. The white vinegar will disinfect the mattress and get rid of any lingering smells, leaving it fresh and clean.

Alternatively, you can disinfect the mattress by spraying it with rubbing alcohol. Use only a little bit to avoid a lingering strong antiseptic smell, and leave a window open or sleep with a fan on for air circulation afterward. Children and pets should also be kept away until the rubbing alcohol is gone.

Absorb Moisture with Baking Soda

Next, generously sprinkle baking soda over the damp area, as it works wonders in neutralizing odors and absorbing any remaining moisture. Let the baking soda sit on the mattress for at least 15-30 minutes, or longer if possible, to ensure it works its magic in eliminating odors. Ideally, leave the baking soda to sit for at least eight hours to work its magic on the stain and odor. 

Afterward, use a clean rag or dry cloth to wipe away the baking soda, leaving your mattress fresh and clean. Any particles you miss will eventually be swept up by the vacuum cleaner.

Vacuum the Mattress

Using a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment, gently remove all the baking soda and anything else lingeringfrom the mattress. The brush attachment helps to clean the surface thoroughly without causing any damage. Make sure to go over the entire mattress to ensure no baking soda residue or remaining vomit particles are left behind.

Air Dry

After cleaning the mattress, allow it to air dry completely. For faster drying, use a blow dryer or if possible, place the mattress in a well-ventilated area or under the sun. Let it air dry overnight to ensure it is fully dry before using it again.

Letting the mattress dry completely is essential to avoid any moisture buildup that can lead to mattress mold and to maintain a fresh and hygienic sleeping surface. Use a fan or hair dryer to dry the mattress. When the surface is dry, check for any signs of stains one last time.

Cleaning Materials Needed to Remove Vomit Stains

The essential cleaning materials for tackling vomit stains don’t have to be anything fancy. No, no need to rely on a professional cleaner when there are simple and effective tools like baking soda, rubbing alcohol, liquid dish soap, vinegar solution, and mild detergent. With these, you can confidently learn how to clean vomit from your mattress toppers and mattresses like a pro.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a highly absorbent and effective solution for tackling pet vomit and liquid vomit stains on a mattress. Its remarkable ability to absorb moisture and odors makes it an ideal choice for eliminating unwanted smells and stains from your sleeping surface. Even if you clean the mess up with a liquid solution, baking soda is one of the best ways to deodorize a mattress afterward.

We recommend leaving the baking soda to sit on the mattress overnight, or at least until the baking soda is completely dry. The best part is that baking soda is non-toxic and safe for both humans and pets, ensuring a worry-free cleaning process that leaves even your memory foam mattresses fresh and clean.

Liquid Dish Soap

Liquid dish soap possesses impressive grease-cutting abilities, making it an effective solution for breaking down the proteins and fats found in vomit stains during mattress cleaning. Its gentle nature on fabrics ensures minimal risk of damaging the mattress surface when used with a damp cloth. By using liquid dish soap, you can tackle lingering odor.

Vinegar Solution

Vinegar serves as a natural deodorizer, effectively neutralizing unpleasant smells left by vomit. Its mild acidic properties assist in breaking down and dissolving the vomit stain, simplifying the cleaning process. However, you don’t want to just dump a bottle of it onto your mattress.

Instead, mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Then lightly spray the vinegar solution onto the vomit stain and gently blot the area with a clean cloth to lift the stain. Dampen a clean cloth with plain water and use it to wipe away any remaining vinegar solution from the mattress, and let the mattress dry completely.

Using this vinegar solution can help leave your mattress fresh and free from lingering odor. However, while vinegar is generally safe for cleaning, it’s always a good idea to do a patch test on a hidden area of the mattress to ensure it doesn’t cause any color fading or damage.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent agent for removing vomit from the mattress due to its powerful disinfectant properties, effectively killing lingering germs and bacteria. Its strong oxidizing ability breaks down and dissolves organic stains caused by vomit, making it an effective and hygienic cleaning solution.

However, hydrogen peroxide is a strong agent and it’s best to reserve it for the more serious cases. Some materials could become discolored, weaken, or degrade from using hydrogen peroxide on them.

Enzyme Cleaner

Enzyme cleaners are particularly effective against biological stains, so whether it’s vomit, blood, or pee, it’s able to take care of accidents of all kinds. The enzymes present in the cleaner target and digest these molecules, effectively breaking them down into smaller particles. This not only helps eliminate the visible stain but also tackles the underlying odor by removing the source of the smell.

Enzyme cleaners are also usually gentle on fabrics and surfaces, making them a safe option for mattresses.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is a valuable cleaning agent with powerful disinfectant properties, eliminating lingering odors and germs found in vomit for a more hygienic sleeping environment. Its quick-drying nature expedites the mattress drying process, preventing mold or mildew development.

Combining rubbing alcohol’s disinfectant power with other cleaning methods provides extra cleaning power, leaving your mattress sanitized and fresh for a better night’s sleep. Remember, however, to use rubbing alcohol responsibly and in well-ventilated areas to ensure effective cleaning.

Use Mattress Protectors

To safeguard your mattress and simplify cleaning, consider using a mattress protector. A mattress protector acts as a barrier, protecting your mattress from spills, stains, and dust. It is usually stain-resistant, making it easier to wipe off any accidental spills.

With a mattress protector in place, you can extend the life of your mattress and maintain a cleaner and more hygienic sleeping surface. After all, it’s not just vomit you need to worry about, and a protector will save you from all manner of accidents that you will need to clean up or damage to materials that can affect the mattress’s comfort.

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Can you put bedding with vomit in the washing machine?

Yes, you can put your bed sheets with vomit in the washing machine. Just remove as much of the leftover liquid vomit as possible and pre-treat the bed sheets to reduce the smell. If you fail to do so, solid matter may end up in the washing machine, blocking its drain and causing an unpleasant odor. Once the bedding is ready, place it into the washing machine and use the hot water setting to kill any chance of bacteria in the bed.

How do you get rid of the vomit smell?

Try using soap and water first to get rid of any lingering vomit odor, wiping the affected area with an old rag that’s gently soaked. Then, sprinkle baking soda to thoroughly remove moisture and deodorize the mattress. You might even try mixing a drop or two of essential oils for sleep with baking soda.

If that doesn’t work, consider renting a powerful steam cleaner with a hand-held attachment to deep clean the surface. Remember to avoid harsh chemicals and ensure the cleaned area is thoroughly dried to achieve the best results in eliminating the smell.

Why do I go to sleep feeling nauseous?

You might go to sleep feeling nauseous due to food poisoning or even simply eating too late close to bed. Additionally, certain medications, pregnancy, anxiety, or acid reflux can contribute to this sensation. If you’re having digestive issues, propping your upper body up can help ease symptoms.

It’s important to identify potential triggers and make lifestyle adjustments, such as avoiding heavy meals before bed. If you suspect food poisoning it’s essential to rest and drink lots of water, but if your symptoms persist or worsen, it’s best to seek medical attention.

What helps indigestion or nausea when trying to sleep?

Prop your head up while in bed with a wedge pillow or adjustable bed, elevating your head about 12 inches above your feet. This position prevents stomach acid or undigested food from refluxing into the esophagus, bringing relief from symptoms.

Additionally, try sipping a bit of slightly sweet liquid, like tart cherry juice or another fruit juice (but avoid citrus), as it helps soothe the stomach and provides comfort during sleep. Always remember to find a comfortable position that works for you to improve your overall sleeping experience while dealing with nausea.

In case of accidents, preserve your mattress and avoid midnight sheet changes by making a lasagna bed. Start by layering a waterproof mattress pad and a sheet, then add another set of mattress pads and sheets. If there’s a late-night accident or illness, simply remove one layer and toss it in the washer for quick and easy cleanup.

What is the best cleaner for human vomit?

The best cleaner for human vomit depends on the surface and material you are cleaning. In general, a mixture of mild detergent, water, and white vinegar is effective for cleaning up human vomit on surfaces like mattresses, carpets, and clothing. Make sure to put on some disposable gloves to protect your skin from any germs.

For tougher stains and smells, hydrogen peroxide can be a powerful disinfectant and stain remover. Whatever you use, always remember to follow the cleaning instructions and perform spot tests on inconspicuous areas to ensure compatibility with the material you are cleaning.

Can I vomit from too much heat?

Yes, vomiting can be triggered by excessive heat in some cases. Heat can lead to dehydration, which may cause nausea and vomiting. When the body becomes overheated and dehydrated, it can disrupt the balance of electrolytes and trigger a nauseous feeling. Additionally, more serious conditions like heat exhaustion or heatstroke can lead to nausea and vomiting.

Stay hydrated, keep cool, and take breaks in a cooler environment if you’re exposed to high temperatures for prolonged periods to prevent such reactions. When going to bed, it’s important to take steps to sleep well during a heat wave. If you experience severe symptoms, seek medical attention.


Cleaning vomit from a mattress is essential to maintain a clean and hygienic sleeping environment, even if it’s not the most pleasant task. Remember, acting quickly and following the steps outlined in this guide can make the process more manageable and effective. You can also opt for natural cleaning agents like baking soda, white vinegar, and rubbing alcohol, which are safer and eco-friendly when dealing with vomit stains.

Proper mattress care and regular cleaning will extend its lifespan and ensure a healthier sleeping experience for you and your loved ones. So, with a little effort, you can bid farewell to the stain and enjoy a fresh and clean mattress for a good night’s sleep.

About the author

Geoff McKinnen is a writer focusing mainly on the healthcare industry and has written articles on everything from foods to help you lose weight to the connection between Alzheimer’s and sleep. Geoff’s passionate about helping readers improve their well-being to lead happier lives. Outside of work, Geoff enjoys cycling and hiking and believes that by leading a healthy lifestyle, he can help others do the same.

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