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Currently, we use a brand name carpet cleaner/stain remover after cleaning up the general mess with a wet cloth.

I'm wondering if there's a natural, low-cost alternative to cleaning up such messes that:

  • Treats stains, if there's a risk
  • Treats the smell
  • Kills any bacteria/viruses (if that's what caused it)
  • Is safe for children

My son already knows how to twist the nozzle on spray bottles to open them and spray them, so it'd be ideal if whatever we kept in a spray bottle wasn't a poison/exposure risk for children.

While I'm mostly interested in carpet, because it can't be thrown into the washer/dryer, I would be grateful for solutions to cleaning non-removable parts of the car/car seat. Seat belts, in particular, have been resistant to most of our cleaners.

Multi-step methods are fine, but I'd prefer something that doesn't require more than 5-10 minutes of time to complete. Usually when these incidents occur we're already occupied, and don't have much time to spare.

But, long-term soaking techniques are acceptable if they're provided after a quicker solution that does a good enough job until the soaking can be accomplished.

Note: At this time we own a carpet cleaner, so alternative machine-safe carpet cleaner solutions would be valid. However, we don't have and can't currently afford a steam cleaner (because we bought the carpet cleaner), so steam cleaning isn't a viable solution for us.

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    While vomit is a common parenting problem, is this possibly a better fit for LifeHacks? (I sort of hope not, I want to see the answers...!) – Acire May 5 '15 at 0:05
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    @Erica Possibly, but I want chemicals specifically for being safe around children, not for being green. I'll edit that in to reflect it. I'm definitely looking for answers from a parenting perspective. – user11394 May 5 '15 at 0:10
  • How about "remove the carpet and instead use hardwood floors"? :) – Joe May 5 '15 at 3:38
  • @Joe I dislike hardwood floors for a number of reasons. But, we're also renters and we're technically living in poverty, so any remodeling is off the table. Interesting fact I just looked up, 1/3rd of US residents are renters. – user11394 May 5 '15 at 3:42
  • It wasn't a particularly serious comment, given the smiley. :) – Joe May 5 '15 at 3:47
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The most common solution I've seen is baking soda. It is a fairly effective odor neutralizer. After the "chunks" have been removed, liberally cover with baking soda, let it sit for a bit, then wash out with water.

Afterwards (and after thoroughly rinsing), if stains persist a solution of vinegar and dishwashing soap plus water seems to be recommended; I've never done this myself. See this article and many like it on the internet for an explanation of this process.

Another common tool is "pet" carpet powders, which are basically enzyme based cleaners. Many are non-toxic. They help break down the proteins in the mess, which helps with the stain.

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