Your family members get sick, and are the one who has to help nurse them back to health. Helping the sick has its advantages -- guilt-free hours spent watching television -- and its disadvantages, including cleaning up vomit from clothing and bedding. Take the time to not only properly remove the vomit from clothes and comforters, but to bring both your sick family member -- and those items -- back to optimal health.
First Things First
Not all vomit is the same. For those incidents that are chunkier than others, remove the large chunks first. Use an old spatula, regulated to cleaning only, to scrape the vomit into a plastic bag. Throw the plastic bag into the trash. Wash the spatula and your hands with warm, soapy water.
For Simple Stains
When the sickness is expected to last several days, wash as many dirty items together as possible. Washing and drying the clothes at the end of each sick day ensures clean clothing for the ill person to wear the next day. After removing large pieces of vomit, rinse the item with cold water and wring out the dirty clothes in the sink. Place the items in a laundry basket with other contaminated clothing. Wash the soiled clothes with detergent and dry at high heat. At the end of the illness, wash the laundry baskets with a disinfectant as a precaution against any lingering germs.
For Heavier Stains
When the vomiting is not expected to last more than 24 hours, or when the stains are heavy, wash the dirty items as soon as possible. Use the spatula and remove as much of the vomit as possible, and rinse out the stain with cold water. If the cold water doesn't work, cover the stain completely with baking soda. Pour lemon juice over the baking soda-treated stain until the area starts to bubble and fizz. Use an old toothbrush to forcibly rub the stain. Rinse the dirty area under cold water and examine. If the area still appears stained, coat the stain with detergent and put in a sink full of cold water for a half hour. Wring out the piece of clothing and wash it with other contaminated clothing at high heat.
A dirty comforter needs to be washed as soon as possible. Rinse and wring out the dirty comforter in the bathtub before placing it in the washing machine. Examine the area, and if a stain is present, blot the area with a solution that is equal parts dish soap and warm water. According to Real Simple, you can, "remove soap residue with a damp towel". Wash the contaminated comforter either alone or only with other contaminated clothing at high heat. If drying a down comforter, dry the comforter with several clean tennis balls. The tennis balls help keep the down feathers fluffy during the drying cycle.
While you can't prevent vomiting, you can make the next sickness easier to deal with. Stash a plastic bowl under or near each of your children's beds. Label this bowl as the sick bowl and always make sure that it's within a child's reach when he doesn't feel well. Provide a bowl for each adult whenever sickness strikes. Remember to wash the bowl after each use with hot, soapy water.
- North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services: Diseases and Topics – Norovirus
- COIT Cleaners: Vomit Stain Removal
- Real Simple: The Best Stain Removing Products and Cleaning Tips
- Campus Clothesline: Ask the Clothing Doctor
- Stain Removal 101: How to Remove Vomit Stains
- ebay: Removing Common Stains From Vintage Clothing and Textiles
Lowell, Massachusetts-based writer Kris Gleba has been writing home decor articles since 2008. She enjoys all aspects of small home living, from complete gut remodels to ingenius home decorating that incorporates style and function. She has previously written for the “Athol Daily News.” She holds a degree in professional writing from Fitchburg State University.