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How to Clean Cat Vomit From Hardwood (A Step-by-Step Guide)

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

yellow vomit on a light wooden floor and a cat

Cats are usually cute and cuddly creatures. However, sometimes they can vomit on our hardwood floors and other hardwood surfaces and make a big mess. If left to linger, dried cat vomit can seem impossible to clean up from hardwood.

Fortunately, all cat vomit, fresh or old, can be cleaned up, and the area can look like it never happened in the first place. It just takes a few supplies, a bit of time, and patience. You can always buy a commercial product to clean up the vomit, but there is no need to do so. Just follow the steps outlined here to make your hardwood floors and/or surfaces look and smell amazing again.

If necessary, put on a mask to help with dealing with the smell. Once you are prepared, here is what you should do to clean the cat vomit from your hardwood floors and/or surfaces.

The 5 Steps to Clean Cat Vomit From Hardwood:

Acknowledging and accepting that you have cat vomit to clean up is the first step in the cleanup process. Make sure you are ready to tackle the project until the job is done. Don’t go into it half-committed because chances are that you will not finish the job and will have to go back to it later, and it will be more challenging the longer you wait. Once you are prepared for the job, you should do the following.

cat lying on the floor
Image Credit: Anthony de Kroon, Unsplash

1. Cover the Vomit

Never wipe up cat vomit from your hardwood, because it can get smeared into the joints of the floorboards and cause moisture damage and mold and mildew problems in the future. Instead of wiping, pour cat litter over the vomit to help soak it up. Alternatively, you can cover the vomit with pieces of newspaper or disposable cloths. Let the coverage soak up the stain for about 10 minutes before carefully removing it and throwing it into a garbage bag.


2. Soak Up the Vomit

Place another layer of cat litter, newspaper, or cloth on the stained area, and gently push down on the material with your hand to soak up any leftover moisture. It is a good idea to wear disposable gloves during this process. After soaking up the extra moisture, throw away the materials.

cat litter box with scoop on wooden floor
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

3. Clean Away the Residue

After soaking up as much cat vomit as you can, it is time to clean all the residue away. Start by using a clean rag to lightly wipe away any actual vomit residue that has been left behind. Consider filling a bowl with warm, soapy water and using it to rinse your rag out as you clean. Wring out the rag thoroughly before using it to clean up the mess, or you’ll be left with tons of water to clean up afterward. Once the residue is visibly gone, it’s time to move on to the next step.


4. Touch Up With Vinegar

It is important to touch up the vomit-stained area with a vinegar spray to help neutralize any lingering odors that you don’t want to smell when you walk into the room. Fill a reusable spray bottle halfway with white or apple cider vinegar, and fill the rest with clean water. Close the top and shake the bottle vigorously. Then, thoroughly spray the affected area with the vinegar solution. After letting the spray sit on your hardwood for about 10 minutes, use a clean cloth to wipe the area clean and dry to the touch.

white vinegar on the wooden table top
Image Credit: focal point, Shutterstock

5. Let the Area Thoroughly Dry

Even though your hardwood feels dry to the touch after following the previous steps, it is important to let the space completely dry for a few hours (if not overnight) before putting furniture back on it or allowing people to start walking around on the area again. You can place a small fan next to the area and turn it on to help the space dry more quickly. Give the space up to 24 hours to completely dry before regular foot traffic and activities in the vicinity are allowed to resume.

How to Clean Set-In Cat Vomit From Hardwood

If the cat vomit is set in, you may need tweak the above steps. An enzymatic cleaner can be sprayed on the soiled area to loosen the mess first. You can then begin at step one. Instead of soap and water in step three, you can opt for the enzyme spray again. A third treatment can be done with the enzymatic cleaner to lift any residual stains and lingering odors, in the rare chance the stain is stubborn, since these cleaners are generally safe to use on all surfaces.

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Final Remarks

You can use commercial cleaning products to get your hardwoods clean, but there is no reason to do so when it comes to cleaning up cat vomit. Using the steps outlined here, you can save yourself money while safely cleaning up all the vomit and ensuring the safety of everyone who lives in the household, animal or human.


Featured Image Credit: ANASTASIIAKU, Shutterstock

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