Accidents happen. Some result in blood stains that need to be removed from clothes, bed linens, carpet, and upholstery. Most can be removed if treated promptly. As with any bodily fluids, use appropriate precautions to prevent transmission of disease. If there is any question, wear protective gloves when handling the fabrics or cleaning the carpet. Carry blood stained fabrics in a plastic hamper that can be cleaned and disinfected and carry the hamper away from your face.
Blood Stains on Washable Clothes
When blood stains happen, as soon as possible, flush the stained fabric with cold water, NEVER hot water. Blood stains contain other ingredients but the protein component needs treatment first. Never use hot water because it cooks the protein into the fibers making the stain harder to remove.
To flush away the blood stain, hold the fabric under a cold water faucet with the wrong side of the fabric directly under the water stream. The force of the water will flush the blood stain out of the fibers.
If the blood stain is fresh, simply work a bit of heavy duty liquid laundry detergent (Tide or Persil are the leading performers) that contains enough enzymes to break apart the stain. Work the detergent into the stain with your fingers or a soft bristled brush. Allow the solution to work for fifteen minutes and then wash as recommended on the fabric care label. Check the stained area after washing and do not place in the dryer if the stain remains. If there are still traces of the stain, move to the next step suggested below.
If the blood stain is dried or old, scape or brush off any crusted matter with a dull knife. Mix a solution of cool water and oxygen-based bleach (brand names are: OxiClean, Nellie's All Natural Oxygen Brightener, or OXO Brite). Follow the label directions as to how much product to use. Completely submerge the bloodstained item and allow it to soak at least two hours or as long as overnight. Then wash as usual, in warm or cold water with detergent. Check the stained area and if the stain remains, do not place the garment in the dryer. The high heat can set the stain. Treat again by soaking in a fresh solution, then rewash.
If you are concerned about disease or the stains are exceptionally large, you should disinfect the washable items. Follow these tips for disinfecting both white and colored laundry.
Dry Clean Only Clothes and Blood Stains
If the blood stain lands on a garment that is labeled as dry clean only, blot as much moisture as possible from the fabric with a clean, white paper towel. As soon as possible, head to the dry cleaner and point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner.
If you choose to use a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag.
How to Remove Blood Stains from Carpet and Upholstery
If the blood stain is fresh, blot up as much moisture as possible with a white paper towel. Keep moving to a clean area of the towel as the blood is absorbed to prevent making the stain larger. If the stain has dried, use a soft bristled brush to loosen the dried blood and vacuum away before treating.
Next, mix one teaspoon of liquid hand dishwashing detergent in two cups of cold water. Dip a white cloth or the brush in this solution. Work from the outside edge of the stain toward the center to prevent spreading. Blot or lightly scrub the stain and blot with a dry paper towel to absorb the moisture. Keep blotting with the cleaning solution and the dry towel until no more color is transferred.
If the stain is gone, dip a clean white cloth in plain cold water and "rinse" the area to remove all cleaning solution. This step is important because the soapy water can actually attract soil. Allow the carpet to air dry away from direct heat and then vacuum to lift the fibers.
If the stain will not come out with the dishwashing detergent solution, mix one tablespoon household ammonia with one half cup water. Apply this to the stain and let it sit on the carpet for at least ten minutes. Then blot away and rinse with plain water. Repeat until the stain is removed.
If the blood stain is very large, it is best to consult a professional carpet cleaner.
The same cleaning solutions and techniques recommended for carpet can be used to clean upholstery. Take extra care not to overwet the fabric which can leave moisture in the cushions.
If the stain is large or the fabric is silk or vintage, consult a professional.