How To Clean Vomit Out Of A Mattress

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 dustpan and flush it down the toilet. Just remember to wash the dustpan afterward. 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, pillowcases, 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.

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 specially 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.

Further Considerations for Cat or Dog Owners

According to a survey done by a mattress company, Novosbed, nearly 71% of Americans allow their pets to sleep on their bed. Dog and cat owners, therefore, have more to worry about when it comes to cleaning. If you are one of the 71% who let your pet sleep on your bed, chances are that you will come across an accident on your mattress. Here are a few steps to take in order to prevent accidents on the bed. 

  • Signs of illness – Your dog or cat may exhibit signs of illness before getting on the bed. Some signs that your dog or cat is not feeling well include behavioral changes such as social withdrawal, lethargy, excessive panting, and aggression. Other signs of illness include not eating normally or not going to the bathroom at normal times. 
  • Optimize feeding windows – If your pet has a generally unsettled stomach, having a set feeding window can help prevent accidents. Additionally, having a set schedule for when your pet eats can help you predict your pet’s dietary and restroom behaviors better. For example, feeding your pet a few hours before bedtime and taking him/her out to the restroom can prevent accidents in the bed. 
  • Gauge when your pet is ready to return to bed – Before you allow your pet to come back and sleep on your bed, it is important to continue monitoring your pet’s symptoms. If he or she continues to exhibit symptoms of feeling unwell, then perhaps wait a little longer until these symptoms subside to prevent accidents. Signs that your dog is better include when behavioral changes and eating habits return to normal. If your pet has shown symptoms of not feeling well but has not had any accidents in the home, that may be another sign that he or she can return to the bed.

Keeping Your Mattress Protected

Consider Implementing a Mattress Protector – A mattress protector is a great option to prevent accidents. The first benefit that a mattress protector provides is acting as the first line of defense for any types of stains. If your pet has an accident on the mattress protector, it will be much easier for you to clean as you can just throw it in the washer and dryer, unlike an actual mattress. In addition to keeping your mattress clean, a protector can extend your mattress’s life.


  • Encasement (or zippered): The protector covers 100% of your mattress from top to bottom. The protector is often closed with a zipper.
  • Fitted: A popular type of protector, this fits your mattress in the same way a fitted sheet would (tucked under your mattress with pocketed corners.
  • Elastic strap: This protector lays on the top of your mattress while elastic straps wrap around the four corners. This anchors the protector to the mattress.


Mattress protectors come in all types of materials such as cotton, polyester, polyurethane, vinyl, and down. Depending on the mattress protector, some can be made from one material, and others can be made with multiple materials. Additionally, some mattress protectors have one layer, while others feature a top and bottom layer. However, opting for vinyl or polyurethane may be the best option, especially if you have pets, as these materials are commonly known for their waterproof properties. The pros and cons for each are listed below.

  • Cotton– Cotton is created from natural, chemical-free fibers. Sleepers who are sensitive or have a high body temperature will benefit from a mattress cover made from cotton as it is breathable and hypoallergenic. However, cotton is also more expensive and is prone to shrinking and wearing down faster. 
  • Polyester– The fibers in polyester are durable, lightweight, and wrinkle and stain resistant, making it easy to clean. Although durable, it is not as comfortable as cotton and can stick to wet skin. 
  • Down– Down is the material for choice for those who live in cold or dry climate areas. Down is also easy to compress, long-lasting, and breathable. However, it is not the easiest to clean as it requires special care. Down is also more expensive than synthetics and not hypoallergenic. 
  • Vinyl– Vinyl is extremely resistant to wear and tear, making it a long-lasting investment. It is also easy to clean and is stain-resistant. However, it’s important to research different vinyl options as some brands of vinyl are very poor in quality and can give off a cheap look. 
  • Polyurethane– Like Vinyl, polyurethane material is resistant to high abrasion, wear and tear, and stains, making it easy to keep clean. The biggest disadvantage of polyurethane is its short life span and quality reduction over time.
Encasement Fitted Elastic
Coverage Full coverage Top and sides Top
Comfort Generally offers minimal added comfort  Most comfortable typically as it goes on like a fitted sheet. Extremely breathable and usually made of cotton Breathable, made with thick silicone elastic bands. 
Protection  Typically water-resistant. Offers complete protection Typically waterproof and spill-proof Protects top of mattress from fluids and dust, but leaves corners of mattress exposed

Precautions for Vomiting or Nausea

If one is struggling with nausea, there are several ways to relieve symptoms and prevent vomiting. However, sometimes these techniques do not seem to ease the queasiness. If that happens, then you should seek a doctor for help. Below are a few tips that can help secure your stomach and prevent accidents in the bed when you are sick. 

  • Drink plenty of clear fluids or cold drinks – If you have an upset stomach, staying hydrated and drinking clear fluids like water may help ease your stomach pain. Additionally, drinking cold fluids or eating ice can help with nausea and ease stomach pain, as the cold can help put your stomach to sleep. 
  • Eat light, plain foods – Eating a plain diet can help with an upset stomach. Usually, upset stomachs are caused by unknown substances going into your digestive system. To ease your system, try eating plain bread or plain chicken and rice. 
  • Avoid fried and sweet foods – Avoiding greasy and fried foods will be important when comforting your upset stomach. Greasy, fried and sweet foods can exacerbate your condition even more. 
  • Do not eat too fast, and start with smaller meals – Eat slowly and start with smaller meals to gauge how your stomach is feeling as food enters your body. Eating fast can result in bloating as the faster you eat results in more air entering your stomach.
  • Avoid mixing hot and cold foods – just like with eating a plain diet, and it is better to avoid mixing cold and hot foods so that your digestive system will not be surprised. 
  • Avoid drinking too fast – To gauge how your stomach is feeling and if your nausea is going away, start off by drinking slowly.
  • Avoid strenuous activity immediately after eating – It’s important to allow your food to digest before participating in any type of moderate to intense activities. Being active too fast could result in your upset stomach and nausea getting worse.
  • Wait sometime before brushing your teeth – If you are feeling nauseous, different flavors and smells can make your nausea worse. Therefore, it is better to wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth if you have just eaten.
  • Choose familiar foods – Upset stomachs normally occur when an unfamiliar substance enters your digestive tract. It might be better to stick with foods you are familiar with and have eaten before to get adequate nutrition, ensure comfort at bedtime, and maintain a solid stomach.

Final Thoughts

There are a number of reasons why your mattress can be covered in vomit. If you have a machine washable mattress cover, then it definitely will not be as much of a hassle to clean out the vomit from the mattress. However, even if you don’t have a washable cover, you can still remove vomit with supplies like mild detergent, white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, baking soda, and a lot of paper towels. The steps necessary to take the vomit out are to clean up the vomit, wash all of your sheets and bedding, dab the area with the vomit, clean, disinfect, and dry the mattress. For future references, especially if you have a dog or cat, investing in a mattress protector may save you from future mattress clean-ups.

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