Chances are, at some point in your life you’ll get blood on your clothing or sheets (hopefully from minor normal bodily happenings like a nosebleed and not something more serious or criminal). Here are some tips for removing those obstinate stains, whatever their cause.
Photo by Alice Carrier.
Cold vs. Warm Water
As common as blood stains are, you may get conflicting advice about how to remove them. The BBC strongly recommends not using hot water to remove a blood stain because it could make the stain set in; instead soak the fabric in a quart of cold water with two tablespoons of table salt or ammonia.
Other sources, like How Stuff Works, say for stubborn stains to soak fabrics in a quart of warm water with a half-teaspoon of dishwashing soap plus one tablespoon of ammonia.
The difference may be in how soon you can get to cleaning the stain. Obviously you’ll want to rinse and remove the stain as soon as possible: sponge or blot it with a clean cloth dipped in salt water solution and rinse with cold water before the stain has set. (The longer you can rinse or soak in cold water, the better.)
Blood Stain Removers
Meat tenderiser, probably because it breaks down proteins, might be an effective blood stain remover: the BBC recommends you make a paste of it with cold water, work it into the stain and leave for 15 minutes before rinsing.
Hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, and enzyme soap are also commonly recommended blood-stain-removing agents. Real Simple has a guide for removing blood stains that combines all of these ingredients, from the cold water soak and hydrogen peroxide treatment to machine washing the stains off with an enzyme-based laundry detergent. Make sure, however, that you test dyed fabrics for colour fastness before applying hydrogen peroxide (it’s safe for all fibers but acts like bleach).
There are other less conventional recommendations for removing blood stains, like using saliva on blood stains on silk fabrics. If you have any tried-and-true methods for making blood stains disappear, let us know in the comments.