Whether we like it or not, accidents happen. And whether we like it or not, some of these accidents do will draw blood one way or another – one of the most common of such accidents include cuts and wounds. When it comes to removing these unsightly (and to some, unnerving) blood stains, it is ideal to take action while the stain is still fresh and wet. In most cases though, responding to the accident almost always takes priority over salvaging clothes and other fabrics, and so oftentimes we may come home to dried up blood stains that are much more difficult to remove. In this article we will discuss a few methods and tips for getting rid of these particularly tricky stains.
Tip 1: Start Slow.
When it comes to cleaning fabric stains, blood or otherwise, it is always advisable to gradually increase the strength of your cleaning agents if weaker ones don’t work. This is because most fabrics, particularly those made out of natural fibres like cotton and silk, are sensitive to stronger cleaners and will discolour or otherwise damage those fibres.
In most cases, you would want to start out with the weakest cleaning agents, and for most fabrics the standard combination of soap and water is often the safest choice. For a more effective clean, turn your clothes inside out so that the outer portion of the blood stain is facing downward. This will allow you to work at the stain from behind and physically push it out of the fabric. Place the stain under cold running water for several minutes, making sure to aim the water towards the back of the stain. This should remove at least some portion of the dried blood stain. It is important to note that you should not use warm or hot water to wash any blood stain, as this will cause the stain to form strong bonds with the fabric, making it practically impossible to remove later.
After rinsing the stain with water, apply a generous amount of mild detergent to the soap to create a good lather. Once that’s done, rub the lathered blood stain against itself by folding the stained area so that each half of the stain faces itself. Start rubbing gently (especially if you are working with thin or delicate fabrics), then rub more vigorously to really work the lather through the fabric and lift the stain from your clothes. If it starts to dry up, rinse the fabric with water, apply more soap, and continue rubbing. Repeat this process continuously; if the stain cannot be removed any further after about 10 minutes, you will want to use stronger cleaners.
Tip 2: Match the Fabric to the Cleaner.
As we’ve mentioned before, certain types of fabrics do not react well to certain types of cleaning agents. For example, enzymatic cleaners, which work great against blood stains as it breaks down the protein bonds between the blood and the fabric, are not recommended for use with fabrics made out of protein based fibres like wool and silk, as the cleaner will also break down the proteins in these fibres, damaging the fabric beyond repair. Enzymatic cleaners, then, are more suited to synthetic fabrics like polyester or rayon.
To use these sorts of cleaners, start by soaking the fabric in a diluted solution of the enzymatic cleaner and cold water for about one to eight hours depending on how long the blood stain has dried up. You can also scrub the cleaner into the stained area with a brush to help dislodge some of the blood before you soak it in the solution. After this, you can put the clothing through a wash cycle as normal, then allow it to air dry. Do not use a dryer machine or any other form of heat as it will help retain the blood stain instead of removing it.
Tip 3: Try Natural Methods.
To fight fire, sometimes we might want to use fire as well. Fortunately, mother nature offers more than a few options that you can use to get rid of pesky dried blood stains – and, surprisingly enough, the options we will be discussing today are actually powerful enough to damage delicate fabrics if you’re not careful.
The combination of vinegar and baking soda is a staple of any household cleaning arsenal, used commonly to clear out clogged pipes and clean most surfaces, nooks, and crannies all around the house. For getting rid of dried blood stains however, we will only be using vinegar and a similar process as the enzymatic cleaner. First try to remove any solidified chunks of the stain by flushing the fabric with cold water. Once you’ve removed all you can, soak the fabric in vinegar (preferably white vinegar as other kinds will stain the fabric) for about 30 minutes, then rinse the fabric with cold water while rubbing away the stained area. Repeat the process until the stain goes away.
You can also do the same with lemon juice, as its acidity also achieves a similar effect. First, soak the fabric in cold water for five to ten minutes to prepare the fabric for the lemon juice. After soaking, wring out the water and place the fabric in a resealable bag. Pour a mixture of 2 cups of lemon juice and 1 cup of salt into the bag, then work the mixture into the fabric, making sure to properly soak the stained area. Keep the fabric soaked for about ten minutes, then wring out the mixture and leave the fabric out to air dry. Once the fabric has dried, check to see if the blood stain remains. If it does, moisten the fabric (but don’t rinse it) then leave it out to dry again. If the blood stain has disappeared, wash and rinse the fabric with cold water.
Tip 4: Ramp Things Up.
If none of the previously mentioned methods work, it will be time to use more drastic measures. These measures, of course, are referring to harsher cleaning chemicals like ammonia and hydrogen peroxide. As mentioned earlier, these chemicals should only be your last resort, and you should try any of the other methods first before switching.
If you decide that you do need to use such chemicals, you will have to put a few things into consideration. Make sure that the chemical won’t burn a hole into the fabric you’re working on – if you bought a concentrated variant of hydrogen peroxide (10% or higher) you should dilute it with water before using it to clean your fabric. If the blood stain is in a conspicuous area of the fabric, first test your cleaning agent on a small, less obvious area to make sure that the colour of the fabric does not fade or the fibres do not get damaged.
With these precautions and preparations in mind, using these chemicals is a relatively simple affair. Dab the cleaning agent of your choice onto the stain and leave it there (or work it further into the fabric with a brush) for about fifteen minutes. Afterwards, blot the cleaning agent out with a separate cloth or cotton ball or rinse the fabric entirely. Repeat the process if it fails.
Despite the wide variety of methods one has at their disposal, removing most if not all blood stains requires a bit of your time, patience, and persistence; just keep at it, and eventually you will be able to get your fabrics and clothes looking as great as it can be again.
For serious accidents you will need to call a professional blood cleaning service. There are a lot of real dangers involved in cleaning up blood. Do not attempt to clean up blood after serious accidents or death.