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 your favorite shirt with this step by step guide to remove blood stains – fresh or dried.
Note: this method of removing blood stains works on most fabrics including cottons, blends, polyesters and acetates.
Removing Blood Stains from Clothes
Here are some helpful things to know about blood before you get started in trying to remove it from your favorite outfit.
★ 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.
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 Stains
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 10-30 minutes or so.
- Rinse the stain under cold running water. Slightly agitate the fabric with your finger, ensuring that cold water reaches the interior of the fabric.
- Continue to rinse liberally under cold, running 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 able, wash the item immediately in the washing machine.
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.
- If you are unable to wash immediately, leave it to soak in a panful of cold water. Use only cold water in the bucket or pan. There is no need to use any other detergents or laundry additives when soaking.
- 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.
Why cold water? 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.
Read more here: Laundry Basics: Choosing the Water Temperature
How to Remove Dried Blood Stains
Dried blood can be a little harder to remove, but it is definitely possible.
- Drench the stain with water as you would do with fresh blood. Agitate the fabric gently with your finger while holding the item under cold, running water. This will help lift up the fibers of the fabric, and allow the stain to more readily come out.
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.
- Hang the garment to dry.
It bears repeating that wet clothes will fool you! The only sure way to know that the stain is removed is by allowing it to hang dry and then assess the results.
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 More Notes to Help Remove Blood Stains
→ If at all possible, dry your clothes 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?
Leave a comment and I’ll try to help!