Cleaning Mattress Vomit

It’s happened to all of us. We’ve woken up in the middle of the night because we’ve been sick, and we didn’t have enough time to even make it out of bed. Whether this happened when you had the flu or too much to drink isn’t any of our business, but we know that it’s happened to you or someone you know. That someone might have even been your children or your pets, because these things tend to happen to them, too. Unfortunately, mattresses can’t be thrown into the washing machine like your sheets and blankets can. The next question you have to ask yourself is the worst: How am I going to clean this puke out of my mattress? Will it ever be sanitary again? How do I get rid of this god forbidden smell?

It’s a mess, but somebody’s got to clean it up.

If this is a common occurrence that you deal with, consider getting a mattress with a removable and machine washable cover like YogaBed or Novosbed. If you have a mattress that does not have a machine washable cover though, don’t worry, we still got you covered. We’re going to give you a step by step breakdown of how to properly clean puke out of your bed, sanitize it, and remove any stains and smells.

What Supplies You’ll Need:

  • Old rags or paper towels
  • A paper plate/paper bowl
  • A mild detergent
  • White vinegar
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Baking soda
  • Optional: rubber gloves, mask, essential oils, a blow dryer or standing fan

How To Clean Vomit From Your Mattress:

Remove the vomit. Grab something like a paper plate or bowl to scoop the vomit off the bed. Put it in a plastic bag and immediately throw it away outside. You can alternatively use a dust pan, and flush it down the toilet. Just remember to wash the dust pan afterwards. You don’t want the smell to linger in your house. You may want to wear gloves while you do this or wash your hands thoroughly after.

Wash the bedding. Take all the bedding off your bed and put it in the washing machine. All of it, even if the vomit didn’t get on it. This includes sheets, comforter, blankets, pillow cases, etc. This is because you want to make sure the smell is gone and that the rest of the bedding isn’t infected with sick germs. Wash it at a high temperature setting, which will help to kill off any germs.

Clean up any remaining liquid. Grab an old rag or paper towel and dab the area. Don’t scrub, as this can actually spread the germs and remaining liquids around and rub them into the fibers of the mattress.

how to clean vomit mattress bed
Don’t make our mistake, use a white sponge as to not transfer any color.

Clean it up. Mix some warm water and mild detergent in a container. Grab another paper towel or rag (not the one you previously used, gross) and spot clean the area by dabbing it with the soapy water. Next, mix together one part water to three parts white vinegar in another container. Blot the area of the mattress again with the vinegar solution. This will help to clean, disinfect, and deodorize the stains and the smell. Don’t worry, the smell should disappear as the solution dries. Make sure you don’t use too much of the solution, or you risk damaging the foam in your mattress. Just spray enough of it to make the spot damp. Let this dry, and then repeat as needed until the stain disappears. You can also use a blow dryer or fan to help you dry the area faster.

For more reinforcement, you can also add a teaspoon of non moisturizing liquid dish soap with your water and white vinegar mixture.

Disinfect. To make extra sure that the area is clean of any germs, spray the mattress lightly with some rubbing alcohol. Again, you won’t want to do too much, as you don’t want too strong of a smell. If you’re really worried about it, you could mix the rubbing alcohol with some essential oils, then spray. Let the mattress dry again with a fan and an open window to air it out. To be safe, you should give it about 6 to 8 hours. You might also want to keep any children or pets away from the mattress until the rubbing alcohol is completely dry.

Almost clean again!

Remove any lasting odor. If there are any remaining odors, try sprinkling baking soda on the area. You can then put back your mattress topper, mattress protector, sheets, and other bedding on the bed.

Almost done. Next time you wash your sheets (which should be in a week or so), vacuum up the baking soda with the hose attachment. Your mattress should look good as new!

Pro Tip. If you’re one of the many people who get nauseous at the smell or sight of vomit, try chewing gum while you tackle the job, or rub some vapor rub under your nose to mask the smell. Wearing a mask might help, too.

You can also consider getting a mattress protector, which will prevent any vomit, urine, blood, or other liquids from ever penetrating your mattress. There are some cheap ones on Amazon that should work just fine. It’s always good to plan ahead.

How to Clean a Memory Foam Mattress

The good news (if there can be good news when cleaning vomit) is that you’ll need pretty much the same supplies to clean puke from a memory foam mattress as you will a regular mattress. And even better news, most of the steps to clean vomit from a memory foam mattress are the same, too. 

Remove the vomit. Yeah, we know, it sounds terrible but the first thing to do is remove the vomit from the bed. Get your gloves on and use a paper plate or bowl to scoop up the vomit and throw it away in a plastic bag, outside. Some people prefer to use a dustpan and then flush it down the toilet, but keep in mind, then you’ve also got a dustpan to disinfect.

Wash the bedding. It’s time to get all the bedding off the bed and into the washing machine. You may be tempted to skip bedding that you don’t see any vomit on, but we recommend washing everything to avoid lingering smells and germs. You may need to do more than one load, but wash all bedding on a high temperature (hot) setting to assist in germ killing. 

Clean up any remaining liquid. The next several steps are critical for memory foam mattresses because the foam material loves to soak up liquid whether that be puke or cleaner. Get an old rag or paper towel and dab (do not scrub) the area to help soak up any remaining vomit liquid. You can do this by dabbing lightly but avoid pressing hard into the foam or attempting to twist the foam to remove liquid.

Clean it up. Now, you need a clean rag and your vinegar cleaning solution. Do not spray the solution onto the memory foam mattress as it will quickly soak it up and may result in damage. Instead, spray your rag lightly and blot the mattress. The blotted areas should be lightly damp, but not wet. 

Disinfect. Spray alcohol and let it dry for 6 to 8 hours.

Dry the mattress. To avoid the memory foam absorbing the cleaner you’ve used, grab your blow dryer and hold the dryer above the mattress surface on a low heat setting. You can also use a fan, but either way, you want the mattress to be dry before you put the bedding back on. Remove any lasting odor. If you’re concerned about lingering odors, you can sprinkle some baking soda on the mattress and then vacuum it up in about a week when you wash your bedding again.

If You’re Cleaning Cat Or Dog Vomit

If your furry friend is the individual who vomited, whether they ate too much or have a little stomach bug (poor thing), there is one thing you’ll want to do a little differently. Pet stores or large commercial stores like Walmart and Target will all have a cleaning product like Simple Solution that’s especially made to clean up after animals. Use it after you remove the animal’s puke with a paper plate or bowl, and wait about ten minutes for it to settle. Next, take your paper towels and remove as much of the moisture as you can, and proceed with the same steps we listed above.

Final Thoughts

We’ve all been there. And by “there” we mean, the realization that someone (maybe even you) has thrown up in the bed and now you’re faced with how to get puke out of a mattress. While there is certainly nothing pleasant about cleaning barf, much less from a mattress, there are some tried and true steps to follow to make the job a little more tolerable.