How to Clean Vomit Out Of Mattress (4 Easy Steps)


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Unfortunately, we do not choose where to get sick. Vomiting on a mattress can happen to anybody, including your kids, pet, or you. The sickness can be due to several reasons. Food poisoning, too much alcohol, or illness, and sometimes…you simply can’t get to the bathroom fast enough.

Whether it is yours, your child’s, or your pet’s, vomit is disgusting (and so is cleaning it up). Unfortunately, a mattress is not something you can easily throw away or put in the washer. However, it is possible to clean up the vomit leaving your bed looking and smelling fresh. 

Before taking you through the cleaning process, here are some essential tools you will need for the job:

Essential Items:

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Meat tenderiser (For hard stains)
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Spray bottle
  • Warm water
  • Cleaning cloth or rag
Optional items:
  • Several clean towels
  • Dustpan or paper plate
  • Plastic garbage bag
  • Rubber gloves (optional)
how to get vomit out of mattress

Things to Consider Before You Start Cleaning Throw Up Out of Mattress

Mattresses are made from different materials, and various materials react differently to cleaning agents. Therefore, regardless of the stain on your mattress, we advise checking the mattress manufacturer’s website for any specific cleaning instructions.

Another thing you should know is that vomit is a protein-based stain because our diets contain proteins. Protein-based stains can solidify and set into fabric fibers, making them difficult to remove. Using hot water or chlorine bleach can worsen such stains by leaving behind yellow spots and making the area feel flaky or stiff.

Does vomit odour or its appearance make you sick? If so, and to avoid throwing up even more on your mattress, chew some mint-flavoured gum or rub some Vicks under your nose to minimise the vomit smell as you clean.

Finally, wearing a mask and gloves is a good idea to protect yourself from picking up germs. However, you can always sanitise your hands after the cleaning process.

With the above in mind and your cleaning tools ready, you can now start cleaning the puke off your mattress.

Step 1: Removing the Vomit

The first thing to do is remove the vomit from the bed’s surface. It is best to act fast before it starts to dry up. You can use a paper plate or dustpan to scrape or collect as much of the vomit as possible and dump it in the toilet. Hose down your dustpan afterwards to wash off any vomit residue. You can also use kitchen towels or blotting paper to collect the vomit off the bed. You’ll want to wear gloves for this.

If the vomit has dried up, use a brush to gently scrape off any dried or crusted solid content from the bed.

Next, remove all your beddings, including blanket, bed sheet and mattress protector and throw them in the washer. Use the highest temperature settings to kill any germs on your sheets.

After removing your sheets, use a dry cloth or kitchen towel to soak up or blot any vomit liquid from the mattress. Avoid rubbing the liquid as it will spread through the bed.

Step 2: Getting rid of the smell

If there is no stain, but there is a lingering puke smell off the mattress, the most effective option would be to use baking sodaIf you don’t already have it in your home, you can easily get it at your local store. Alternatively, you can also use cornstarch or add essential oils to get rid of the vomit smell on your mattress.

Baking soda is alkaline, and due to its higher pH, it’s effective in neutralising the acidic smell of vomit and leaving your bed smelling fresh.

After soaking up the remaining liquid from the mattress, sprinkle baking soda on the vomit spot. If you do not have baking soda, you can use cornstarch as a substitute (though it will not be as effective as baking soda).

Leave the baking soda on the mattress for 6-8 hours (for best results, leave it on overnight) to absorb the smell. The powder will also help in absorbing any liquid from the mattress.

You can put a clean towel over the powder before spreading your bed so you can sleep on the bed that night. Though, I recommend sleeping on the couch or the floor until the next night.

After the baking soda is dry, use a vacuum to remove any residue. Use the hose attachment on your vacuum for the best results.

cleaning vomit stains mattress

Step 3.1: Cleaning the Stains (For fresh vomit or light stains)

To remove light stains from fresh vomit, mix water and white vinegar in a ratio of 1:1. You can also add a few drops of scented essential oils to this mixture to effectively neutralise the vomit smell.

Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and apply the liquid generously around the affected area. Do not oversaturate, just dampen the area.

Next, sprinkle baking soda on the spot and leave it for 8 to 24 hours to let the mixture work its magic. You can quicken the drying process by using a fan or opening a window close to the bed.

Vacuum the area to remove the baking soda residue. If there is still a light stain remaining, you may repeat this process. Ensure you use a clean towel each time to avoid spreading the stain from the towel on your cloth on other parts of the mattress.

Step 3.2 Cleaning the Stains (For dried vomit or set-in stains)

To remove dried vomit or set-in stains, you will need to use a bit of elbow grease and a more targeted cleaning mixture.

Make a 1:1 mix of water and hydrogen peroxide. You can add a little dish soap for extra cleaning power but ensure that it is not a diluting formula. You can also add your favourite essential oil for scent.

Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and dampen the area. Use a clean towel to blot the spot and allow it to dry. Next, sprinkle baking soda on the spot and leave it for 8 to 24 hours.

Use a vacuum cleaner to remove any residue.

Step 3.3 If the stain persists, use meat tenderiser (yes, you heard that right!)

If none of the above methods removes the stain, use a mixture of two tablespoons (2 tbsp) of water and one tablespoon (1 tbsp) of meat tenderiser. Meat tenderiser can break down the protein in the vomit stain, making it easier to remove. This mixture should leave you with a paste.

Apply the paste to the vomit stain on your mattress and leave for 24 hours to dry.

Next, scrape off the paste from your mattress and collect the waste using a paper plate or dustpan. You should see the stain lift off your mattress during this process.

Step 4: Sanitise Your Mattress

Sanitising your mattress is crucial to remove any leftover germs from the vomit after cleaning. You can use rubbing alcohol or unscented hand sanitiser for this process.

If you’re using rubbing alcohol, make sure to patch test a small corner sport first. Some mattresses are not compatible with alcohol and may suffer discolouration.

Follow these steps to sanitise your mattress:

  • After your bed is dry, spray some rubbing alcohol or dab some hand sanitiser on the area.
  • Allow your mattress to dry for at least 6 hours until the alcohol is completely dry.
  • Do not let children or pets play or go near the bed until dry.

Tips to Protect Your Mattress from Stains

Vomit is not the only thing that can stain your mattress. Urine, sweat, and period blood are other common fluids that stain your mattress. And the best way to protect your mattress from all this and more is simply to invest in a waterproof mattress protector. Mattresses aren’t cheap, and a mattress protector will save you a lot of money and hassle in the long run.

If the mattress protector gets stained, simply remove it and wash it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Some mattress protectors can even be thrown in the washing machine, while some need to be hand-washed.

Mattress protectors come in different materials, but it’s best to choose the ones that are breathable yet 100% waterproof. If the mattress protector isn’t breathable or too thick, it could trap heat and make you sweat more at night and interfere with the performance of your mattress.

You can check out our mattress protector guide to learn more about the different types of mattress protectors and how to choose the right one for you.

Wrapping Up

Vomit stains are never fun to deal with, but we hope that this guide has equipped you with the information and tools you would need to tackle them. Follow the steps outlined above, and don’t forget to use a mattress protector to keep your mattress clean and free of stains.

James Lee

James Lee

James is the content director at WhatASleep, a certified sleep science coach from Spencer Institute and our in-house sleep product expert. Over three years, he's personally tested hundreds of mattresses. He likes to keep his reviews simple, objective, and straightforward so that the readers don't have to go through decision fatigue which is often the case while shopping for sleep products.

He hails from Sydney and has a journalism degree from the University of Queensland and an MBA from Melbourne Business School.


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