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Stain Removal 101: How to Remove Blood from Fabric

Blood on finger.

 

We’ve all had it happen: you’re wearing your brand new beautiful shirt and you somehow get blood on it.

Whether you accidentally cut yourself in the kitchen or your child brushes his freshly scraped knee on you, the results are the same: a ruined outfit.

But it doesn’t have to be a total loss.  You can revive the shirt that has blood on it and here’s how.

Note: this method of removing blood stains works on most fabrics including cottons, blends, polyesters and acetates.

 

A Little Stain Removal Education

Thankfully, blood is a protein-based stain and these seem to be on the easier end of stain removal.

Since blood is protein-based, its worst enemy is heat.  Don’t soak in hot water, don’t dry in the dryer and don’t iron the stain until it is removed to your satisfaction.  If you do use heat in any form (wet or dry) you will never be able to remove the stain in all likelihood.

Other home remedy stain removers such as alcohol or peroxide may work on removing blood from fabric but I highly doubt it.  Those types of removers are solvents and work best on non-water soluble stains such as ink, wax, crayon, betadine, or makeup. 

 

 

How to Remove Fresh Blood From Fabric

The quicker you are able to deal with the blood stain, the better.  Fresh blood is fairly easy to remove in fact.  And by ‘fresh’ blood I mean a garment or fabric that has had blood on it for less than about 10-15 minutes or so.

The first thing you should do is rinse the garment under cold running waterSlightly agitate the fabric with your finger, ensuring that cold water reaches the interior of the fabric.

And rinse liberally.  Use lots and lots of cold water.  You can typically see the blood stain start to lighten in color.  If you’ve caught the stain early enough, you might even see it disappear under the running water.

If you are unable to launder the garment immediately, leave it to soak in a pan full of only cold water.  There is no need to use any other detergents or laundry additives when soaking.  Cold water will prevent the stain from setting in until you are able to launder it.  You can leave the stain in water for 10-12 hours, but not much longer. 

Wash the garment on the setting you usually would using cool or warm water.  Also use a scoop of Oxi Clean or other enzyme cleaner in the wash cycle.  Enzyme cleaners are exceptional at removing protein-based stains.

Let the item hang dry.  Do not dry it in the dryer.  When an item is wet, it will fool you into looking as if the stain has completely disappeared. 

The only real way to know if the stain is completely removed is when the clothing item is dry.  If you dry it in the dryer it will set the remaining stain in, so always hang dry.

 

How to Remove Dried Blood from Fabric

Stain Removal Supplies 

Dried blood can be a little harder to remove, but it is definitely possible. 

Even dried blood benefits from cold running water, so drench the stain with water as you would do with fresh blood.  Agitate the fabric gently with your finger to help lift up the fibers of the fabric. 

Note:  Do not pick at the stain.  If there is a significant portion of dried blood trapped in the fabric, it will be removed either under the running water or in the next step.  If you pick at the fabric, you might break the fibers which would put a hole in your garment.  This isn’t the result you’re after.

After you’ve saturated the stain in cold running water, you’ll need to do The Soak.

The Soak involves soaking your clothing item in Oxi Clean (or another enzyme-based cleaner) for a length of time.  It’s not hard, but it is a little time consuming.  I’ve written detailed instructions with pictures for The Soak so click on over if you need to use this method.

After doing The Soak, launder your garment as you usually would in cool or warm water.  And definitely hang it to dry.  You might have to wash it in the machine several times before the stain is removed to your satisfaction.  But don’t give up too early – most blood stains can be removed even if they are old and dried.

 

 

A Few Last Notes on Removing Blood Stains

- If at all possible, dry your clothing item in the sunshine.  As I’ve said a million times, the sun has wonderful stain-removing properties especially with protein-based stains like blood.  Make sure the stained area is in direct sunlight for optimum results.

- If you have a washing machine that has a ‘Steam Treat’ cycle, set it on this cycle for blood stain removal.  It works like a charm to completely remove the stain.

- Chlorine bleach can be used on blood stains.  Use very cautiously since a) bleach can definitely lift the color from a fabric and b) bleach weakens fabric fibers when used full-strength.  Follow the directions carefully on the bleach container.  Also, if you have hard water (well water), the bleach can possibly make the blood stain worse.

- If you have bed sheets that are stained with blood, they can be cumbersome to treat using the previous stain removal advice.  To make it easier, remove the sheets from the bed and put in the washer.  If you have a top-loader, run a rinse cycle.  Then launder if possible.  If not, run the top-loader full of cold water and let them soak until you are able to wash them.  If you have a front-loader, run a rinse cycle.  Some front-loaders allow for a ‘Soak Cycle’.  Use whatever cycle your machine offers that will let the sheets soak in cold water for the longest time possible.  Then launder on cool or warm.  Hang sheets to dry on the line if possible.

 

Do you have specific questions about removing blood stains from clothing or fabric?

 

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A Little PSA:

My new friend from You ARE Loved lost her daughter to Toxic Shock Syndrome one year ago this week.  TSS is a completely preventable death, so please educate yourself on the symptoms.  And make sure your daughters understand its flu-like symptoms.  TSS is not a disease of the 1980’s – it is a disease of today.

Blood on your bed sheets?  Not a big deal.  Toxic Shock Syndrome?  It’s life-threatening.

Visit You ARE Loved and make sure you and the girls and women you love are educated.

 

Disclosure: I have no affiliation with Oxi Clean or other products promoted in this post.  I have found it to be the best product at protein-based stain removal.  I also have no affiliation with You ARE Loved.  However, my heart goes out to this mama in the loss of her daughter.  She has an extremely important message for all women of child-bearing age.

Comments

  1. codylove says:

    My son used to get nose bleeds when he was little & I always found that spraying a little peroxide on the blood stain & washing in cold water did the trick. It also works on grass stains as well.

  2. Living on a farm my husband gets blood in his clothes frequently. We have found that Peroxide on the stain, even after it has dried works great.

  3. Cathy Lawson says:

    I also have had good luck with peroxide. When I was in the hospital the nurse drawing my blood got it all over my gown. I dabbed it on untill the stain was out.

  4. I would agree with the commenters above who say hydrogen peroxide has worked for them for blood stain removal. It is actually one of the two ingredients that Oxiclean forms when it is mixed with water — hydrogen peroxide and washing soda. That is why Oxiclean works so well on blood stains. I’ve also used Carbona Stain Devil # 4 for blood stains with great success. I pour it on and the stain disappears immediately, with just a bit of rubbing, even before laundering. I even used this on a mattress pad I bled on after my time of the month!

  5. Salt will also remove blood. Saturate the stain with cold water, pour on salt, add a little water to make a “salt paste”. Let sit overnight.

  6. Hi, I have a problem that I hope you can help with. I bought a new couch a couple months ago that is a corduroy type fabric, DRY CLEAN ONLY Type S. My cat walked across it with a hurt paw and left bloody prints. I had purchased a warranty for stains and called the company. First they sent me the wrong product; for washable fabrics, then sent me the appropriate dry cleaner several days later. Since the stain is now 2 weeks old, I am having problems lifting the stain completely. It is a light sage green colored fabric and the stain still shows. Is there anything else I can do? I have the feeling that the company won’t be of much help. Note to self (and others) beware of these warranties, I paid $100. (to cover couch and loveseat) for a very small bottle of cleaner that doesn’t work. And they said it only covers one stain event! Thanks for any advise you have.

    • mamalaundry says:

      Patrice, I am not very experienced in upholstery stains. My bloggy friend Taylor from Stain Removal 101 is the girl to talk to. Here is a post she wrote on cleaning upholstery stains. Scroll down to the bottom of the post and she addresses Type S stains.

      I’m sure she’d be happy to help you if you have questions.

      -Lauren

  7. Ah, thanks so much! Put my sheets in the cold washer, and watched the stain actually start disappearing when I held it under the cold water. Absolutely wonderful!
    I think I know where to go if I have any more laundry questions.

  8. Really informative blog.Thanks Again. Cool.

  9. Recently, my mom’s dog had a problem with his ear. it wouldn’t stop bleeding. My mom applied pressure and it would stop just long enough for her to set him down. The dog would shake his head and blood went everywhere. We had a 2 hour drive and finally made it home. Mom’s skirt was full of blood. She took a shower and put the skirt in the laundry hamper. I had planned to do laundry that day. Well, things came up and i finally got to the skirt 4 days later. So, it was dried in. I wish now I had taken pictures of before and after.

    I soaked the skirt in peroxide. And hung it up to dry. There were a few spots where the blood was heavy and the stain didn’t come out. So, i soaked it again. All the stains are gone and I’m a firm believer that the peroxide will get out any blood stain!

    • mamalaundry says:

      Karen, I’m so glad that the blood came out of your mom’s skirt. Yes, peroxide will get out most any blood stain, but it will also bleach some types of fabric. Glad you got out unscathed. ;)

Trackbacks

  1. Nice shout out from Mama’s Laundry Talk… says:

    [...] a shout out to You ARE Loved and some great tips for removing blood from fabric.  Check it out, Stain Removal 101: How to Remove Blood from Fabric. Filed Under: Blog Project [...]

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