How to Clean Vomit From Pillow (step-by-step guide)

Scrape, blot, soak, rinse, dry, vacuum, repeat.
How to Clean Vomit From Pillow (step-by-step guide)
Tom Greenspan
December 21, 2022

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Having a stomach virus or food poisoning can be a slightly traumatic experience. But when you don't get the signals in time and you throw up on your pillow, the situation gets much worse. Washing the pillow protectors is easy, but when it comes to removing the does from the pillow, it's an uphill challenge.

At some point, it happens to all of us, we get that stomach bug that lays us up for a few days, and we experience bouts of vomiting. But can you clean a pillow sufficiently to remove the odor of vomit?

In this article, we delve into the expulsion of food and gastric fluids from our bodies when we vomit and find out if we can clean a pillow that has been covered in puke. We answer frequently asked questions and provide factual tips and advice on removing the vomit and odors from your pillow.

Let's get into it.

Is it possible to remove the odors of vomit from a pillow?

Yes, And it can be done with household items. You may be feeling under the weather, but speed is of the essence if your pillow is covered or not by a pillow protector. If the pillow is not protected, there is always an element of resistance from the tight weave of the pillow to absorb fluid, so removing any solids from the vomit with a paper towel will help. It is also wise to soak up gastric fluids with paper towels, place them in the toilet, and flush them away.

If you have a pillow protector, then strip it from the pillow immediately and contain the solids within the fabric. Once the protector is removed, it is time to rinse or remove the solids with gastric fluids from the pillow protector.

Once you have taken the above steps, you can semi-relax. Most pillows are machine washable, so there is good news for those of you who have standard hollow fiber-type pillows. Of course, all standard pillow protectors are machine washable.

Suppose you are reluctant to wash the pillow due to damaging the internal fibers and compacting the pillow. In that case, you will need to find a different solution to cleaning the pillow.

Removing the smell of vomit from a pillow.

It's an unpleasant business, but it happens from time to time, and you will need to remove the vomit's odor from your pillow. You can follow these steps assuming the solids and the gastric fluids have been cleaned away.

Step 1

If you have a clean spray bottle to hand, it will be an advantage. You will need to place white vinegar in the spray bottle and spray the pillow liberally with the white vinegar. Don't soak the pillow. After 10 seconds, use a blotting motion to remove the white vinegar. You will need lots of kitchen towels.

Continue this process until the out of the pillow is stain free and there is not a residual odor of vomit.

Step 2

When all of the white vinegar has been absorbed, sprinkle the area with baking soda. Yes, many people say not to do this, and it's valid, but your pillow has had the vinegar blotted out, so this is the next logical step. Let the baking soda sit for five minutes, and then shale the powder off and wipe it clean. Repeat the process but massage the baking soda into the affected area with your fingers to try and get some penetration. Leave this for thirty minutes.

Step 3

Vacuum the pillow case and sniff for any vomit odors. If the vomit has not penetrated into the hollow fibers of the pillow, the pillow should be good, and the odors should have vanished. If not, repeat the step one more time or until the odors are no longer apparent on the pillow.

Step 4

Put the pillow protector on a standard wash. This will remove any garlic debris and odors. You can tumble dry the pillow protector once the wash cycle is completed. What happens if the pillow has absorbed the gastric fluids and spot cleaning will not remove the odors? You will need to wash the pillow and place the pillow on a cycle that matches the washing instructions.

How do you remove vomit from a memory foam pillow?

Again you will have to move quickly if the gastric fluids are not going to be absorbed into the foam, making the problem of cleaning more difficult.

Step 1

Remove the solids and residual vomit fluids using a kitchen towel from the pillow and remove the outer casing.

Step 2

If you have a mild stain, you can remove it using detergent and a sponge. If you have a stain that is harder to remove, such as wine, blood, or vomit, you will need something more substantial, like white vinegar or baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Apply directly to the discoloration 3% hydrogen peroxide and dab with a clean cloth until the hydrogen peroxide stops bubbling. 

Combine one cup of hydrogen peroxide, one teaspoon of white vinegar, and two tablespoons of baking soda and apply to the problematic region. Spray with cold water and gently scrub with an old toothbrush to remove stains. Repeat if necessary, especially if an odor remains, and leave overnight. Use cold water to wipe down.

Step 3

Leave your memory foam pillow to dry naturally, preferably out of direct sunlight. Machine washing a memory foam pillow will likely destroy the texture of the foam and any support the foam offers.

Step 4

If you need to wash the memory foam pillow, it should be washed by hand. If deep cleaning is required for your memory foam cushion; Large bathtubs or sinks should be filled with lukewarm water and a modest amount of mild detergent. Place the cushion entirely underwater and give it a gentle squeeze to help the cleaning agent permeate the foam.

Leave the memory foam pillow to dry on a flat surface, Don't wring the pillow. Just gently squeeze to remove excess water.

Frequently asked questions

Can you wash pillows?

Yes, most pillows are suitable for the washing machine. Just select the washing cycle per the washing instructions. Wash only one pillow in one cycle. The heavy pillow becomes loaded with water, throwing the washing machine out of balance. You cannot put memory foam or any foam pillow in the washing machine. The washing machine will be too aggressive for the material.

How to Keep Pillows From Getting Lumpy in the Washer?

There is no guarantee that a pillow will look or feel the same after washing it, even if the care tag says it can be machine-washed. Washing a pillow with other goods, such as another pillow, will prevent it from becoming lumpy because the load will be more evenly distributed.  Drying pillows thoroughly on low heat after washing is essential for avoiding lumpy pillows. No matter how well the washing and drying processes are done, some cheap pillows are poorly built and may feel lumpy.

Can you wash a down pillow?

Unless specifically instructed otherwise on the care labeling, down bed pillows can be machine cleaned. With a light detergent and a moderate cycle, wash the pillows in warm or hot water. The position of the pillows in the washing will affect how they come out in the end.  Before adding pillows, add the detergent to the water and let the machine agitate it a little.

Can you wash pillows in a front-loading washing machine?

Yes. To extend the life of the pillows, wash them in a front-loading washer whenever possible. A top-loading washing machine's agitator scrapes on the pillow's fabric, gradually weakening it.  Always keep the pillows in a dry, non-humid space to prevent musty or even mold odors from developing.

Are vomit stains permanent?

Your gastric fluids contain hydrochloric acid to break down the foods you eat. Once the balance of the stomach is upset enough to expel the acids known as vomit, the hydrochloric acid will burn materials and even strip porcelain.

Does bleach remove vomit?

Avoid using bleach. Since vomit can leave an unpleasant stain, bleach may be your first response. Vomit is a protein stain. Thus, attempting to clean it with bleach risked making it worse.

What Removes Vomit Smell?

Make a DIY mixture of two cups of hydrogen peroxide, two teaspoons of baking soda, and two drops of liquid dish soap to get rid of the stench of vomit. Or you can buy a vomit-odor removal product. Let the affected area dry after applying the solution.

Are there specific products for removing the odor of puke?

Yes, you can search online and buy products that contain enzymes that break down the elements of vomit and remove the smell. These products also work on blood and other body products that contain proteins.

The bottom line

It may seem like a daunting task to remove vomit from a pillow, and as unpleasant as it may seem, it is a straightforward procedure. If you can expedite the process, it will be easier than if it's left to dry.