How to Remove Blood from Fabric

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.

How to Remove Blood from Fabric

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

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?

 

 

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!

    • Robyn Smith says:

      I have a small blood stain that has dried on my cream curtains, I’ve tried the salt solution but it didn’t work. I’m a bit scared to use hydrogen peroxide in case it bleaches fabric, what do you advise! I also tried WD40, nothing!!

  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. 😉

  10. I had a very unsightly blood stain on my white sheets but surprisingly I removed it pretty easy. What I have done was to soak the sheets in cold water and 2 tablespoons of salt for 30 minutes, and then to wash them in my washing machine at the lowest possible temperature. After this the stain was completely gone.

  11. My husband got blood (from shaving) on a white shirt last night which dried. I just sat it in bleach today (just the neck part with the blood on) for 3 hours then the blood totally vanished! It’s now in the washing machine. If it’s white clothing just apply regular bleach.

    • Lauren Hill says:

      Yes, you can apply bleach, but you must be careful due to the type of fabric. Bleach can quickly eat a hole in some fabrics when used full strength.

      Also, the blood wasn’t on your husband’s shirt for long, so it hadn’t had time to set. Since you washed it so quickly (good for you!!), you had a great chance of removing it.

      Glad the stain come out!

  12. So, I went to this forum after having one of my favorite dresses (100% cotton) dry cleaned with a blood stain. After looking at all of the forums, I was convinced that because the stain had presumably “bonded” with the fabric, there was no hope! However, a bit of dish washing detergent (thanks “the cat did it”), a healthy dosing of “Shout” and some concentrated scratching with my fingernail followed by vigorously rubbing the cloth together, the stain slowly began to fade, and with significantly sore hands in the process, by the end the stain was gone. Because I did all of this I’m not sure what did the trick and what part of this process might have been expendable, but I was THRILLED! I’m telling you that this stain was thoroughly entrenched so if it worked in this situation, it should work for most!!

    • Lauren Hill says:

      Jacqui, I am so thrilled for you and your result! Excellent!

      Great tips to share with others in your similar situation. 🙂

  13. Great article. I am going to try with peroxide next time. I have a son who is really naughty. He so often heart himself that I am getting used to clean blood from his clothes. Thank you for sharing your article! Greets!

  14. Cloth diapering mom here! You don’t need to wait for a sunny day to get organic stains out of fabric! Even on a cloudy day the UV rays that break down stains can get down to earth! I set my daughter’s diapers in front of the window when they get a little too dingy and they are perfectly white after a day, even when it’s rainy and dismal.

  15. I got a stain on my bed sheet and thought that putting hot water on it would help. It was so stupid of me and I should’ve done some research first. I thought the hot water was helping because the stain started to get a little bit lighter. Is there anything that I can do now? Please help! As soon as I read this I started dabbing it with cold water but it doesn’t seem to be doing anything.

  16. Mike Markham says:

    Another idea my grandmother taught me as a child (I had MANY nosebleeds) was to take some of my own saliva and dab the blood spot. As it has been stated many times in this article, blood is protein based, and such is your own saliva which will break down your own blood.
    My grandmother made custom upholstery & slipcovers all her life. Surely she stabbed her fingers a few times with pins and needles. She said over the years you of course would get blood on the fabric. And so a person much older that her back in the 50’s taught her that as soon as she got blood on the fabric to quickly take some of her saliva and rub it on the blood spot and it would come right out….and it surely does!

    • Lauren Hill says:

      Yes, excellent tip, Mike!

      If you only have a very small blood spot, saliva is a great remedy.

      Thanks!
      -Lauren 🙂

  17. I have used Biz for years to soak blood-stained sheets or clothing and it always worked great. But recently it stopped working and I couldn’t figure out why. I asked the manufacturer if they had changed their formula but they said no. So I tried Oxiclean, and that worked for awhile, even on sheets previously soaked in Biz where the stain hadn’t come out. Oxiclean also worked well on T-shirts for awhile. But then I started noticing that it was bleaching out the color from the area where the stain was, and it changed the texture of the fabric so that the stained/treated area became hard and rough. So I had to quit using it for T-shirts. And then it quit working on sheets! So now I am stuck with several sheets and shirts that have been previously treated in Biz or Oxiclean or both without the stains coming out, and I’m completely baffled as to why these products don’t work any more. I’ve been able to get the blood and rough texture out of some of the shirts by pretreating with Resolve (also called Spray ‘n’ Wash) and washing with regular detergent. But most of the time that doesn’t work. Help!

    • Lauren Hill says:

      Cathy, how strange! I have only had Oxi Clean lift the color on a few garments over the years. It’s rare, but definitely can happen.

      So the question becomes of course: How do I remove stains from clothes/laundry?

      You might just have to go through the gamut of laundry stain removal products before finding one that works well with your particular water and washer. If I were you, I’d start with Rit Super Stain Remover and see if it works. Unlike other Rit products, it’s a stain remover NOT a dye.

      Unlike Oxi Clean, Biz, etc. it goes on specific stain areas and isn’t a stain remover that you pour into the washer. Just FYI.

      Best wishes in figuring out what works for you!
      -Lauren 🙂

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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