How to keep vomit from ruining your laundry

“It’s better out than in, that’s what I always say!”

Shrek was talking about burps in this disgusting, albeit true, proclamation. And we have to agree with him, so much so that we’ll extend the old adage to vomit. If something doesn’t agree with your stomach, it’s better to get it out.  

It’s nothing to be ashamed of; after all, everyone throws up. Healthy babies, sick kids, and even drunk adults all find themselves, possibly more often than they care to admit, feeling the need to upchuck. 

All too often, vomit finds its way onto soft fabrics like clothes, bed sheets, carpets, and more. It can leave tough (and gross) stains that are tricky to remove, but it can be done. We have some tips—and hope that everyone feels better soon!

Upholstery 

We know what you’re thinking…yikes. But not all is lost. It’s 2023! There is a way to get anything out of everything. Start by wiping and dabbing the area with a damp cloth to get all the excess off. After the area is clean, spritz it with a stain remover. This can be a typical laundry stain remover or a specialized upholstery one. If you can’t remove your upholstery covers, let the stain remover sit for a while and wash it off with a clean microfiber towel. If you can remove your upholstery covers, place them in your laundry machine on the gentle cycle. Or head to a laundromat with industrial-sized machines for the best results. 

Sheets

Dealing with puke stains on sheets can be a nauseating experience, but fear not because there are plenty of ways to help you banish those stains and bring your sheets back to their former glory. First things first, act fast! The longer the stain sits, the harder it becomes to remove. Start by carefully scraping off any excess gunk using a spoon or dull knife. Avoid vigorous scraping unless you want to replace vomit with holes. You can dab your sheets with detergent or spritz on a stain remover. If things are really serious, create a mix of one part water and one part baking soda and rub this on using a circular motion.

Let your stain-removing agents sit for at least 10-15 minutes. Then, dump your sheets into the washing machine and care for them as usual. If you have scent boosters or fabric softeners you reserve for special occasions, you may want to consider this one of those special occasions. 

Clothes 

Treating your stained clothing will depend on how long it has been since the stain occurred. If you just got onto your favourite shirt, running to the washroom quickly and blasting it with warm water should be enough to keep a stain from settling in. 

But if you woke up to a vomit stain? It’ll likely still be a little damp. Dab off chunks and then bring the item over to the sink. Rub the stain with either detergent or dish soap. Wait until the stain begins to lift, and then throw it in the washing machine. Before putting the garment in the dryer, check to see if the stain is still visible. If it is, repeat the process and try again with the next load. 

If you have a puke stain that is thoroughly baked in, our condolences—you’re going to have to work harder to get it out. This is because the bile in our stomach, which comes up with vomit, is acidic. 

There are a few different ways you can manage this. Lighter coloured or colour-guarded fabrics can be handled with a hydrogen peroxide and baking soda mixture. A classic 50% vinegar and 50% water solution can also be used. Think of it as acid versus acid. If you’re in a bind, like away from home on vacation, a combination of dish soap and lemon can also work. 

Afterwards, wash your clothing like you normally would. 

Stuffed animals

Unfortunately, sometimes our beloved teddies can bear the brunt of an accidental vomit. Cleaning these isn’t as easy as cleaning a piece of fabric. They often have stuffing and buttons that can’t be removed. However, salvation is possible. Start by gently rubbing your teddy with a soft toothbrush that has both detergent and water on it. If there are stains, spot treat them like normal. Don’t let either the soap and water mixture or the stain remover sink in for too long, as this could lead to a musty smelling stuffy. Blot the bear with a paper towel or dry cloth, or use a blow dryer if you have one. If things got seriously chunky, vacuum it on a low setting to remove any potential small debris. 

Vomit is gross, and dealing with it stinks (literally). But it doesn’t have to mean ruining some of your favourite items. With the right care, you can save clothes, sheets, furniture, and stuffed animals from a pukey ruin. 

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