How to Get Blood Stains Out of Clothing and Upholstery

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Blood spills belong at the crime scene, not your laundry. Here’s how to remove blood from clothes, sheets, and upholstery with household products.

Fresh blood stain that needs to be removed from jeans

There are plenty of legitimate ways that blood winds up on clothing, sheets, and upholstery. Maybe you had a nose bleed or your period started early. Perhaps your toddler scraped their knee or your pet cut its paw. Whatever the reason, here’s help removing fresh or old blood stains from fabric using products you already have in your home.

Blood Stains On Clothes

It is always best to treat stains when they’re fresh, including getting blood out of clothes.

If the stain is still fresh, you can rinse it out easily by holding the item upside down under cold running water. This method uses gravity to pull the stain out of the fabric.

If needed, apply a drop or two of laundry detergent or dish soap, or rub the spot with bar soap or Fels Naptha, and rinse. Once the blood is gone, launder the garment with detergent and color-safe or oxygen bleach. (Here is how to make your own oxygen bleach.)

To remove dried blood stains from clothes, add 2 tablespoons of laundry detergent to a sink of cold water. Soak the item in this overnight, then rinse the item and inspect the stain. If it’s still visible, apply a paste made from equal parts hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Let this sit for 5 minutes then launder with your usual detergent in cold water. Repeat the process if needed.

Blood Stains on Wool

Wool is stain-resistant, so you can usually get fresh blood stains out of wool by dabbing it with an undyed towel. If some trace of blood remains, treat it as you would an old bloodstain on wool.

To remove old blood stains on wool, apply an undyed cloth to dampen the area with cold water. Then dab a small amount of wool-safe laundry detergent onto the bloodstain. (Using detergents containing enzymes to clean wool can cause permanent damage.) Wool is fragile when it’s wet, so work gently to blot away the stain. Once it’s gone, handwash the garment in cold water and lay it flat to dry.

Blood Stains on Silk

Saltwater makes an excellent blood stain remover for silk. To remove blood from your favorite silk nightie or sheets, stir 1 teaspoon of salt into 8 ounces of cool water. Dab or spray this onto the blood stain to saturate it then wait 10 minutes and rinse under cold water. For non-washable silk items, see your dry cleaner.

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Blood Stains On Sheets

If you woke up to find blood on your sheets, rinsing the spot under cold running water might be all it takes. If needed, apply a few drops of liquid laundry detergent and scrub it by hand. Then wash your sheets in cold water with your usual detergent and oxygen bleach.

To get old blood stains out of sheets, apply a paste made from equal parts hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Let this sit for 5 minutes then launder with your usual detergent in cold water. Repeat the process if needed. (If the blood soaked through your sheets, follow these steps to get rid of blood on your mattress.)

Blood On Upholstery

When you get blood on clothing, you know it can fit in a sink or the washing machine. But something as large as a sofa requires a different approach.

For blood stains on your sofa, first look under the cushions for a care label. If you find an S or an X care code, take the cover to a dry cleaner or contact an upholstery cleaning specialist. If the upholstery is washable, you’ll see a W or a WS code. (Here is how to clean your sofa to remove other stains.)

Use an undyed cloth, cool water, and a little liquid laundry detergent to remove blood stains on your sofa. Be sure you dab, not rub, you’ll spread the mess. Rotate your cloth as needed so you’re always working with a clean spot, and continue until the blood is gone. Dry the area by blotting with a clean, undyed cloth.

Other Ways to Remove Blood Stains

Since it’s easiest to remove blood stains when they’re fresh, here are some more ways to quickly treat blood on clothes with household ingredients.

Meat Tenderizer

Powdered meat tenderizer contains enzymes that soften protein strands. To use it on bloodstains, add enough water to 1 tablespoon of unseasoned meat tenderizer to make a paste. Rub this into both sides of the stain and let it sit for an hour. Rinse the item stain-side down under cold running water then launder as usual.

Hand Sanitizer

Most hand sanitizers contain a large amount of rubbing alcohol, which is a solvent. So that little bottle of hand sanitizer you keep in your purse can help get rid of bloodstains on the go, too. Dab fresh stains with a piece of toilet paper and a drop of hand sanitizer until the spot is gone. Check out these other uses for hand sanitizer, too.

Contact Lens Solution

Saltwater is a great way to remove blood stains, and your contact lens solution is basically that. If you get blood on your clothes away from home, dab it with a piece of paper towel and a squirt of contact lens solution. Even if the stain doesn’t lift completely, you’ll keep it from setting.

Hydrogen Peroxide

This is the go-to for health care professionals to get blood out of their clothes. Hold the item over a sink with the stained side down and pour 3% hydrogen peroxide onto the spot. Then, wait 5 minutes and launder with your usual detergent in cool water. Keep in mind that hydrogen peroxide has mild bleaching properties. Don’t use it on very dark clothing or leave it sitting too long.

White Vinegar

Distilled white vinegar contains between 4 and 5% acetic acid, making it a helpful stain remover. Dab straight vinegar onto fresh blood stains and wait 10 minutes then wash in cold water.

Ammonia

If you want to use ammonia to remove stains, be sure you first open your windows for good ventilation. Then, mix equal parts of cold water and ammonia and dab this onto the blood stain with an undyed cloth. Wait 5-10 minutes then launder the item in cold water. It is very important that you do not combine ammonia with products, since they can create hazardous fumes.

Common Questions about Blood Stains on Clothes

Below are some frequently asked questions about removing blood stains from clothing.

Can I Use Bleach to Get Rid of Blood Stains? Chlorine bleach can remove blood stains from fabrics, but it can also damage them. Bleach does not just fade colors, it also weakens fibers. The best approach is to use a bleach pen instead of pouring liquid bleach into your washing machine. That way, you’re only treating the stain and not risking damage to the entire item.

Does aspirin remove blood stains from clothes? The salicylic acid in aspirin is a blood-thinning agent which helps prevent clots. That works as a medicine but doesn’t necessarily work as a laundry stain remover. If you want to try it, crush two aspirin into a powder and add enough water to make a paste. Apply this to both sides of the bloodstain, wait an hour, then rinse with cold water. If the stain remains, try one of the other methods.

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