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Cleaning Up Vomit, Urine and Faeces

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 17 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
Vomit Stains Urine Stains Faeces Stains

Of all the stains you may have to deal with, vomit, urine and faeces are probably the nastiest. However, whether it's an untrained pet, a sick child or a drunken accident, these three stains are often a fact of life and so learning a few simple ways to tackle them will help you deal with any situation which may arise.


Unfortunately, how easy a vomit stain is to remove depends to a large part on what was eaten before the vomiting! However, always act quickly, especially on carpets and mattresses so that as little as possible soaks in. Firstly remove as much of the excess vomit as possible with a spoon and then rinse the area with cold water. If it is an item of clothing, wash it in biological laundry detergent, if the fabric can withstand it (not wool or silk). If it is on carpet, sponge the area with a solution of warm water and special wool detergent or warm water and borax solution, then rinse thoroughly using the dab and blot method.

If you know what was in the vomit, this can help to some extent as you can target that particular type of stain. For example, if it contained red wine, then leave the garment soaking in salt water for a period of time. If it contained something greasy, then soak the garment in a solution of 2 Tbsp of borax powder to 1L of water.

One of the worst things about vomit stains is the lingering smell. However, by sprinkling bicarbonate soda on the area and leaving for while, before vacuuming, you should be able to dispel most of the unpleasant odours.


Urine stains are one of a pet owner's biggest headaches, particularly cat urine which has a singularly unpleasant smell and can seem to linger forever if not treated quickly. Whatever you do, never use an ammonia-based cleaner on a urine stain caused by a pet as the smell will attract the animal back to that spot.

If the urine stain is fresh, you can usually treat it by just rinsing it thoroughly in cold water and then washing it as normal, using a biological laundry detergent if possible (same as for vomit). If the stain is older and dried, you will need to soak the garment overnight in a weak solution of hydrogen peroxide and water, then wash as directed above. An alternative to this is soaking in salty water, if you do not have hydrogen peroxide handy.

Carpets are a little more difficult in that they cannot be soaked. However, you can treat the area immediately with soda water which should minimise the staining. Once the excess urine has been blotted up, sponge the stain with salty water and then rinse and blot dry.

Again, sprinkling bicarbonate soda onto the stain and leaving for a while before vacuuming should combat any lingering odours.

Note that urine spraying in cats is a serious problem and aside from tackling the immediate stain, you will need to consult an animal behaviourist and perhaps treat your cat with some pheromone therapy, otherwise you will be fighting a losing battle with cat urine and odour.


While this may be the most disgusting stain to have to deal with, thankfully it is relatively easy to remove. As with vomit, scrape off any excess and then soak the garment in a solution of detergent and warm water or borax and warm water (see above for solution composition) - either of these will help to loosen the stain. Following this, wash the garment in the hottest wash possible with that fabric and use a biological laundry detergent if possible. For carpets, follow the same steps with the detergent or borax and warm water - and then carpet shampoo if necessary.

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