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Home > Cats > How To Clean Up Cat Vomit From Hardwood: 7 Tips (With Pictures)

How To Clean Up Cat Vomit From Hardwood: 7 Tips (With Pictures)


Cat owners, like toddler parents, are often forced to deal with unpleasant situations involving bodily fluids, including vomit. A necessary but unwelcome task, cleaning up cat vomit becomes more complicated when your kitty leaves their deposit on hardwood floors. Now you have to get rid of the vomit without damaging a sensitive surface.

To guide you in your unwanted task, we’ve collected 7 tips and tricks for cleaning up cat vomit from hardwood. Check them out, hold your nose, and get cleaning!


Before You Begin

Wearing disposable or rubber gloves can make your clean-up slightly more bearable. Use other protective gear as needed, especially if cleaning with chemicals. You’ll also want to keep your cat away from the area while you’re cleaning and have a trash can handy.

The 7 Tips on How to Clean Up Cat Vomit from Hardwood

1. Dab Up The Vomit – Don’t Wipe

a creased toilet paper on wood floor
Image By: Ratchanee Sawasdijira, Shutterstock
Materials Needed: Cleaning cloth or paper towels
Difficulty: Easy

If you find the vomit while it’s still fresh, cleaning up the vomit is your first priority. However, because of the seams in hardwood floors, wiping up the vomit can be problematic. You don’t want to push any into the cracks where it can seep down to the underlayer out of reach. Instead of wiping, use a cloth or paper towels to dab up the vomit. Another option is to cover the wet vomit with paper towels and allow as much as possible to absorb. Scoop up the entire mess and dispose of it.

  • No special materials needed
  • Keeps vomit contained to the surface of the wood
  • Only works on fresh vomit

2. Use Kitty Litter to Dry the Vomit

cat lying on the wooden floor beside litter box
Image By: Tanya Plotnikova, Shutterstock
Materials Needed: Kitty litter, dustpan
Difficulty: Easy

Another option for cleaning up fresh cat vomit is to use kitty litter to dry it out. Again, the goal is to remove the vomit without allowing any to penetrate the underlayer of the hardwood. Take some clean kitty litter and completely cover the wet vomit. Give it a few minutes to absorb and then scoop the entire load into a dustpan and dispose of it. We’ll cover how to clean up any remaining stain and smell later in this article.

  • Uses materials already on hand
  • Keeps vomit contained to the surface of the wood
  • Only works on fresh vomit

3. Use a Scraper

a hand with pink gloves holding up a pink dust pan
Image By: Anna Shvets, Pexels
Materials Needed: Scraper, such as a dustpan, broom
Difficulty: Easy-moderate

Unfortunately, cats are masters at hiding when they aren’t feeling well. Because of this, there’s a good chance you won’t find the vomit on your hardwoods until it’s dried up. The good news is you won’t have to worry about wiping any vomit into the cracks on your floor. The bad news is you may need to apply a bit more muscle to clean it up. For this method, you’ll need something flat to serve as a scraper. A dustpan or large putty knife should do the trick. Scrape the dried vomit to loosen it and either scoop it into a trash can or sweep and then scoop.

  • Less concern about vomit seeping into cracks
  • Uses materials generally on hand
  • It may require more effort to clean up

4. Use Diluted Vinegar

Image Credit: NatureFriend, Pixabay
Materials Needed: Vinegar, water, cleaning cloth
Difficulty: Easy-moderate

Once you’ve removed the physical vomit, you can turn your attention to removing any stain and smell left behind. One option to do this, which is particularly effective on smells, is to clean the area with diluted vinegar. Full-strength vinegar could potentially damage the finish of wood floors so mix ½–1 cup with at least 1 quart of water before cleaning. Wet a cloth with the mixture and wring it out as thoroughly as you can to minimize the amount of liquid that contacts the wood floors. Liquid and wood floors usually don’t mix well but you don’t have much choice when it comes to cleaning up vomit. Scrub the vomit stain until it’s gone, then use a rag with clean water to rinse the area. Finally, dry with a clean rag.

  • All-natural cleaning method
  • Effective at removing smells
  • Vinegar could damage the finish of the floors

5. Use Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide
Image Credit: pedphoto36pm, Shutterstock
Materials Needed: Hydrogen peroxide, rag
Difficulty: Easy

To remove vomit stains from hardwood, try using hydrogen peroxide. Before using peroxide on your floors, however, test an out-of-the-way area to be sure they won’t be damaged by this method. Once you’re satisfied, place a clean rag or cloth over the vomit stain. Pour enough peroxide onto the rag to dampen but not soak it. Allow the peroxide to remain in contact with the stain for a few minutes. Once the stain is gone, wipe with clean water and then dry the area thoroughly.

  • No harsh chemicals needed
  • Uses materials usually on hand
  • Could damage hardwood, test first

6. Use a Commercial Hardwood Cleaner

male hand wiping the hardwood floor
Image Credit: Stokkete, Shutterstock
Materials Needed: Cleaner, rag
Difficulty: Easy to moderate

If you’re comfortable using commercial cleaning products, a good hardwood floor cleaner is useful for cleaning up cat vomit. The advantage of these products is that they’re formulated to be used on hardwood floors and usually don’t require rinsing or drying. For your cleaner, you could use an enzyme-based pet cleaner.

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Alternately, you could use a conventional cleaner, like Murphy’s Oil soap. Whichever option you pick, follow all directions on the label to keep yourself and your floors safe.

  • May need to purchase materials before cleaning
  • Rinsing and drying are usually not needed
  • Cleaners may contain harsh chemicals

7. Sand Untreated Wood Floors

polishing a hardwood with sandpaper
Image Credit: Kelly Marken, Shutterstock
Materials Needed: Sandpaper, power sander (optional)
Difficulty: Moderate-hard

Typically, wood floors are treated with a protective coating to make them more durable and resistant to stains. However, if your cat happens to vomit on bare, untreated wood floors, removing the stain can be tough because the moisture will quickly soak into the wood. The quicker you can remove the vomit, the better to minimize the depth of the stain. After the vomit is gone, you’ll likely need to sand down the residual stain. This method isn’t complicated but will take more effort, especially if done by hand. Using a power sander will make the process quicker but be cautious not to over sand and gouge the wood. Once you deal with the vomit stain, consider sealing your floors to prevent future issues.

  • No harsh chemicals needed
  • It may take a lot of effort to remove the stain


Why Is Your Cat Vomiting?

While it’s unlikely that you’ll avoid cleaning up cat vomit at least occasionally, vomiting should never be considered normal behavior for your kitty. It could be a sign of a health condition, especially if it occurs frequently.

Vomiting is a non-specific symptom in cats, meaning it could indicate multiple different medical conditions. To get to the bottom of your cat’s vomiting, it’s time for a trip to the vet. While it’s always possible that your cat has hairballs or is eating too fast, it’s essential to rule out more serious conditions.

Before you head to the vet, make some observations about your cat's vomiting habit to pass on, such as:
  • What does the vomit look like (hair, food, liquid)?
  • How often does your cat vomit?
  • How soon after eating does your cat vomit?
  • Does your cat have any other symptoms (diarrhea, weight loss)?

Based on your cat’s medical history and physical exam, your vet may recommend blood tests or X-rays to help determine why your cat is vomiting. Sometimes, your cat may need to see a veterinary specialist for more advanced tests.

If your cat is diagnosed with a medical cause for their vomiting, be sure to follow your veterinarian’s treatment plan carefully.

Veterinarian measures blood pressure of gray fluffy cat
Image Credit: DinaSova, Shutterstock



Cleaning up cat vomit is no fun, especially when you must worry about damage to your wood floors too. Hopefully, these 7 tips and tricks make the process a bit easier, if not less unpleasant. Don’t ignore your cat’s vomiting, either, especially if it happens often and doesn’t just involve hairballs. If your cat does have a medical condition, the sooner it is diagnosed and treatment can begin, the better.

Featured Image Credit: ANASTASIIAKU, Shutterstock

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