Maybe you got a cut on the job, scraped your knee in the yard, or had a menstrual mishap—don’t worry, we’ll show you exactly how to get blood out of clothes.
All kinds of stains happen to the best of us at some point, but that’s no reason to throw out your favorite sweater or pair of jeans. Luckily, both fresh and dried blood stains can be removed from most fabrics, as well as from non-clothing items like carpet and bedsheets. Most blood stains only require a few items to treat, and you likely already have them in your laundry room or medicine cabinet. Let’s start with how to get fresh blood stains out of clothes.
How to Get Blood Stains Out of Clothes Fast
First, round up the following items:
- A clean cloth or sponge that offers a bit of abrasion
- Vinegar or hydrogen peroxide
- Color-safe bleach
- Stain pre-treater
- Laundry detergent (or castile soap)
The key to removing a fresh bloodstain is to act quickly. Dried blood stains are harder to remove than fresh ones. Take a quick look at the soiled garment’s care label to understand the cleaning and drying guidelines. Follow those before our advice, as each garment’s needs are unique based on the material and construction. If the care label does not steer you away from the following tips, then here’s what we recommend.
- Run the stain under cold or cool water in the sink or dab it with a wet cloth. This will help lift as much of the blood as possible while also keeping the stain wet (remember, we don’t want it to dry).
- If your goal is to avoid harsh chemicals on the garment, you can try less intense stain removers first, like white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. White vinegar contains natural acids that can break down bloodstains. Hydrogen peroxide actually works like a mild bleach. It doesn’t typically damage clothing, but it’s best to treat a small, inconspicuous area just to be safe. Simply blot a small amount of either liquid on the stain with a clean sponge or cloth. If the stain comes up, rinse the area in the sink once more.
- If the stain doesn’t fully come up, your next step is to cover the stain with a laundry pre-treater or stain remover that’s made to break down enzymes, which is what’s needed to help dissolve stains involving bodily fluids. Leave either on the affected area for the time instructed on the product’s label.
- Next, wash the garment in the washing machine as you normally would. It’s a good idea to use a bit of color-safe bleach in addition to laundry detergent for color items. For white items, add in regular bleach. Be sure to use cold or cool water, since warm/hot water can end up further setting the stain.
- If the stain comes out in the wash, great! Just toss it in the dryer and dry it per the care label’s instructions. If there’s still a visible stain, repeat steps three and four until it’s fully lifted. Don’t put the garment in the dryer until the stain is removed. Again, heat will set the stain, making it harder to get out.
A word of caution: Don’t try to handle dry-clean-only items yourself. If the care label recommends professional cleaning only, then blot the stain with some cool water and try to keep it moist until you can get it to a dry cleaner. Let them know about the stain so they can remove it properly, and because it’s a good safety and health practice to let them know when bodily fluids, particularly blood, are on your clothes.
How to Get Dried Blood Out of Clothes
Set stains are a little trickier to remove, but it can be done. Here’s how to get dried blood out of clothes.
- Use a clean, wet sponge or cloth to blot the stain to remove what you can.
- Fill your sink with cold water and add a teaspoon of laundry detergent. If you have a stain remover, add a teaspoon of that as well.
- Submerge the garment in the water and let it soak for at least three hours.
- Remove the garment and wring out the excess water. If any of the stain is still visible, put a bit of laundry detergent and/or stain remover on a slightly abrasive sponge and gently scrub the affected area. Use a regular sponge if you’re working with a delicate material, however, like silk or lace.
- Next, wash the garment in the washing machine as you normally would, keeping in mind the care label instructions.
- If this removes the stain, you can now dry it if the label permits. If the stain is still there, repeat step five, adding a teaspoon of ammonia to the washing machine. If that works, you can then dry it. If not, consult a reputable dry cleaner in your area for professional assistance.
More Tips for Removing Blood Stains
If you have time, these tips could also be useful to help fight your current bloodstain. If not, keep them in mind the next time you need to know how to get blood out of clothes.
Salt or Saline Can Help You on the Go
If you’re out when a bloodstain occurs, it may be a while before you can tend to the steps outlined above. One thing you’re likely to be able to find while you’re out that can help is salt. Yes, plain old table salt. If you can run in a grocery store, gas station, or restaurant, get a packet or pinch of salt. Head to the restroom and mix a little cold water with the salt to rub onto the stain. If you have a saline solution with you, that can also do the trick.
Aspirin Can Help, Too
If salt is a no-go, try aspirin. You or someone near you likely have a couple of tablets on hand to spare. Crush them into a powder, mix with cool water, and rub the paste on the bloodstain. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes, or until you can get home to launder the garment.
Thicker Garments Need Extra Help
If your bloodstain is on a thicker garment, like jeans or a coat, apply the mentioned products and water to both sides of the stain. Depending on the amount of blood, it likely soaked through to the other side of the item, so treat both sides to ensure you get any treatment product through to all parts of the stain.
Bedding Items Work a Little Differently
As most women know, your menstrual cycle doesn’t care if you just bought white sheets. If you get blood on your sheets, comforter, mattress, or other bedding items, the protocol is a bit different. For your sheets or comforter, you can follow the same steps outlined for treating stains on clothes, as long as your washing machine can handle large, bulky items. If your sheets are silk, satin, or any other delicate fabric, refer to the care label instructions or consult a dry cleaner.
For mattresses, you have to be careful not to get the fabric too wet, since it’s really hard to dry out mattresses, especially when you need to cover them with sheets that night to sleep. The key here is to work slowly and in rounds. Also, don’t apply products or water directly onto the mattress, but rather onto the tool you’re using, such as a sponge, cloth, cotton ball, or clean toothbrush.
Wet any of these tools slightly with cold water and just a drop of whichever cleaner mentioned above you’d like. Gently blot and swipe over the stain, careful not to press in and saturate the mattress with more moisture than necessary. Once the stain comes up, focus a fan over the area and leave the sheets off as long as you can before making the bed so it can thoroughly dry out. If it doesn’t dry out completely, you could get some mildew or an odor.
Knowing how to get blood stains out of clothes will come in handy in a pinch. Stains are inconvenient, but most can, fortunately, be treated pretty easily with ingredients you likely already have. Public Goods can help with many of your laundry woes. Our laundry products are not only non-toxic and environmentally friendly, but they’re also super effective on tough stains. We’ve also got you covered with other laundry hacks, like how to remove oil stains from clothes and how to fight static!
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