How to clean vomit from mattress

There’s nothing worse than the smell of vomit lingering on fabrics like mattresses. Not only is it unpleasant, but vomit can stain and ruin mattresses if not cleaned properly. Whether it’s from a sick child, too much alcohol, or a stomach bug, dealing with vomit on your mattress is an unfortunate reality many people face. Don’t despair – with some quick action and the right cleaning process, you can get that vomit smell out and prevent staining.

clean vomit from mattress

This complete guide will walk you through all the steps for how to clean vomit from a mattress effectively. We’ll cover what supplies you need, how to treat the stain, deodorizing tricks, and steps you can take to protect your mattress from future incidents. Let’s dive in!

Supplies Needed

Before you start cleaning, gather these supplies:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Warm water
  • Clean rags or paper towels
  • Enzymatic cleaner or oxygen-based cleaner (optional but recommended)
  • Vacuum cleaner with hose attachment

Optional additional supplies:

  • Baking soda and water paste for tough stains
  • Soft bristle brush for scrubbing
  • Diluted dish soap
  • Odor removing powder designed for mattresses
  • Waterproof mattress protector

Act Quickly

Time is of the essence when it comes to cleaning vomit. The longer it sits, the harder it will be to remove the stain and odor completely. As soon as the vomiting episode is over, strip off any bedding and start blotting the affected area with clean, dry paper towels or rags.

Don’t rub vigorously, as this can push the vomit further into the mattress fibers. Instead, gently blot and lift to absorb as much vomit as possible from the surface.

Blotting Right Away:Letting it Sit:
🟢 Absorbs most of the vomit🔴 Stain sets in
🟢 Easier to clean🔴 Odor gets worse
🟢 Prevents soaking into mattress🔴 Damages mattress interior

Treat the Stain

Once you’ve blotted up the initial mess, it’s time to treat the stain. An enzymatic cleaner formulated to break down odors and stains is highly effective on vomit. Some top enzymatic cleaners to consider are:

  • Rocco & Roxie Stain & Odor Eliminator – Enzyme-based, great for tackling set-in stains and odors
  • Kids ‘N’ Pets Stain & Odor Remover – Safe for kids and pets when used as directed
  • Puracy Natural Stain Remover – Plant-based, gentle on fabrics

If you don’t have an enzymatic cleaner, you can make a homemade cleaning solution by mixing:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

The baking soda will help neutralize odors while the vinegar works to break down the acidic vomit stain.

Dip a clean rag into the cleaning solution and dab it onto the stained area. Don’t soak the mattress – too much moisture can damage the interior. Allow the solution to sit for 5-10 minutes to work on the stain.

Then blot with dry paper towels or clean rags, lifting as much moisture from the mattress as possible.

For tough, dried-on stains, make a paste by mixing baking soda and a small amount of water. Gently scrub this paste onto the stain using a soft bristle brush, then blot away.

You can also try using a small amount of diluted dish soap to help break up tough stains, but be sure to thoroughly blot and rinse away all soap residue.


Once you’ve lifted the majority of the vomit stain, it’s time to focus on removing any lingering odors. Sprinkle a generous layer of baking soda over the entire affected area. Baking soda is a natural odor neutralizer that will absorb foul smells.

Let the baking soda sit for several hours or overnight if possible. The longer it sits, the better it can work. Then vacuum up all the baking soda using the vacuum’s hose attachment and crevice tools to remove it thoroughly from the mattress fabric.

For extra odor elimination, consider sprinkling on some odor removing powder designed specifically for mattresses after vacuuming up the baking soda. Two excellent options are:

  • Arm & Hammer Fresh Mattress Refresher – Contains baking soda and plant extracts to deodorize
  • Febreze Fabric Refresher – Eliminates tough odors with their OdorClear Technology

If the vomit smell persists after applying baking soda and odor removers, move your bare mattress into a sunny spot for a few hours. Sunlight acts as a natural disinfectant and can help kill lingering odors and stains.

Protect Your Mattress

After all your cleaning efforts, make sure to let the mattress air out completely to dry before remaking the bed. Putting sheets back on while damp can lead to mold and mildew growth.

To prevent this messy situation from happening again, invest in a high-quality, waterproof mattress protector. This goes over your mattress like a fitted sheet and creates a waterproof barrier so if any future accidents happen, the mattress itself stays protected.

Look for one that is leak-proof, waterproof, and has a soft, breathable top so it doesn’t make noises while you sleep. Some top waterproof mattress protectors include:

  • PlushBeds GreenGuard Mattress Protector – Made from plant-based materials
  • Coop Home Goods Waterproof Mattress Protector – Hypoallergenic and cooling fabric
  • Purple Mattress Protector – Moisture-wicking with anti-slip bottom

Replace the protector any time it gets soiled so it continues doing its job properly. Using mattress protectors makes cleaning up accidents much easier since you simply remove and wash the protector rather than having to treat the entire mattress.

Additional Tips

Here are some extra tips to keep in mind when cleaning vomit from a mattress:

  • Avoid harsh cleaners like ammonia or bleach that can damage mattress fabrics and cause fading/discoloration.
  • If the vomit smell persists, try sprinkling the mattress with baking soda, letting it sit for several hours, and vacuuming again.
  • For tough, dried on stains, make a baking soda and water paste and gently scrub with a soft bristle brush.
  • You can use diluted dish soap to help break up tough stains, but be sure to blot thoroughly to remove all soap residue.
  • Sunlight acts as a natural disinfectant, so if possible, move your bare mattress into a sunny spot for a few hours to help kill odors and stains.

Don’t Panic, Just Take Action

Vomit stains on mattresses are unsightly and smelly, but with the right process, they don’t have to be permanent. By acting quickly, using the best cleaning solutions, and taking steps to protect your mattress, you can remove all traces of vomit and get your mattress looking and smelling fresh again.

Remember, preventing mattress stains is easier than treating them. Cover your mattress with a waterproof protector at all times so if any accidents happen, you have an extra line of defense between the mess and your mattress. With some elbow grease and diligence, you can have your mattress looking and smelling as good as new.

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As the founder of Clean It Spotless, I am Melissa Walker, a leading expert in removing tough stains from fabrics, carpets, and upholstery. With over 10 years of experience in the cleaning industry, I have developed my own natural, non-toxic stain-fighting formulas that lift stains while preserving the integrity of the underlying material. My stain removal tutorials are widely read online, and I have appeared on local TV segments demonstrating my techniques. I also present popular stain removal workshops at community centers and schools.