A man wearing a brown henley shirt that has blood stains

Blood Stain Removal: A Practical, Not at All Creepy Guide

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We’ve all been there—a surprise nosebleed, an unexpected visit from Aunt Flo, or that paper cut on your finger that turned into a gusher. Then you wind up worrying about not only why you’re bleeding but also how to get bloodstains out of your clothes, sheets, or upholstery.

That’s why it’s helpful to know what household products and kitchen ingredients can get blood out of fabrics whether you’re at home or on the run. I mean go. So, read on and by the time you’re done you’ll be ready to MacGyver your way out of any mishap.

How to Get Blood Stains out of Clothes

Fresh blood on clothes

If you act fast, you can whip off the garment and hold the fresh blood stain upside down under cold water to let gravity flush it out. For a little extra oomph, try a dab of laundry detergent or soap. Once the blood is out, wash it right away.

Pro Tip

Always use cold water to remove blood stains on any surface and let things air-dry until you’re sure the stain is gone. Heat bonds proteins in blood to fabric fibers, making them difficult if not impossible to remove.

Dried blood stains

Removing dried blood from your clothes takes a bit of patience since you need to soak the spot overnight in a mixture of 1 teaspoon of laundry detergent for every 1 cup of water. If it’s still there after rinsing, work a paste of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda into the fabric with an old toothbrush and give it 5 minutes to loosen the mess. Rinse, then lauder it in cold water.

Special care for blood stains on wool

Getting blood out of wool requires a gentle touch because wool is fragile when it’s wet. If you’re too rough, you’ll turn it to felt. So, in the process below, focus on transferring the stain from the wool item to the cloth you’re using by pressing and lifting, not rubbing it in.

To get blood out of wool, stir a teaspoon of mild laundry detergent into a cup of cool water and grab a white cloth. Dip the cloth into the liquid and press it to the stain to pick up some of the blood, then rinse and turn the cloth to a clean area. Repeat until the stain is gone then hand-wash the garment and lay it flat to dry.

Pro Tip

Never use an enzyme-based detergent on wool or silk. The enzymes will break down the fabric’s proteins and cause permanent damage.

Removing blood stains from silk

Use saltwater to get blood out of your favorite silk nightie or sheets. Stir 1 teaspoon of salt into 1 cup of cool water and dab it onto the spot. Give it 10 minutes to loosen the stain then rinse. For non-washable silk items, consult a trusted dry cleaner.

How to Get Blood Out of Sheets

When you wake up to fresh blood on your sheets, cold water with a bit of detergent worked into the spot should do the trick. Rinse it under a faucet, then toss the sheets in a cool wash with your usual detergent and oxygen bleach. (Check out my recipe for a homemade oxygen bleach liquid if you’re out.)

Older, dried blood stains need the hydrogen peroxide and baking soda method mentioned above. And if the blood soaked through your sheets, here’s how to get the stain out of your mattress.

Pro Tip

If you need to soak up a lot of blood before removing the stain for some reason, cover it with cornstarch or baking soda. When the powder has absorbed the liquid, scoop it up or shake it off then treat the stain.

How to Get Blood Out of Upholstery

Removing blood stains on your sofa upholstery isn’t as easy as shoving in the washer or sink. Or is it?

If the upholstery care label has a W, you can clean it with water. A WS means you can use water or solvents. So, dip a cloth into cool water with a little liquid laundry detergent stirred into it and dab the stain until it’s gone.

Or, if it’s a cushion cover with a W or WS, pop it into the washing machine on the gentle cycle with half the usual amount of detergent then let it air dry. If the piece of furniture has several cushions, wash all the covers so they continue to match.

Pro Tip

Always perform a spot test in an inconspicuous area before using a stain remover on upholstery, even if the care label says it’s washable.

Home Remedies for Blood Stains on the Run

Since bloodstains are easiest to remove when they’re fresh, here are some things to keep handy when you’re away from home.

Hand sanitizer

Dab fresh blood stains with a white napkin or tissue and a drop of hand sanitizer until the spot is gone. Most hand sanitizers contain a large amount of rubbing alcohol, which is a solvent. So that little bottle of hand sanitizer has several uses, including blood stain removal.

Contact lens solution

Saltwater is a great way to remove bloodstains, and your saline contact lens solution is just 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 rinse with cool water. Keep in mind that hydrogen peroxide has mild bleaching properties, so don’t use it on your ninja outfit or leave it soaking for too long.

White vinegar

Distilled white vinegar contains between 4 and 5% acetic acid, making it effective at dissolving the proteins in blood. Dab straight vinegar onto fresh blood stains, wait 10 minutes then rinse in cold water. Now, if you don’t make a habit of carrying vinegar on you when you’re away from home, ask at the nearest restaurant and don’t forget to tip your server.

Meat tenderizer

You can also get blood stains out with a paste of water and powdered meat tenderizer applied to the spot for an hour then rinsed away. The papain in the tenderizer contains enzymes that softens blood’s protein strands, so it’s easier to remove.

Plus, that plastic container is convenient to stash in your Dexter-style duffle bag so you can get blood out of clothing or other fabrics on the run.

All that blood stain talk get to you? Check out my guide to cleaning up vomit.

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