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How to Remove Blood Stains From Clothes

You CAN remove blood stains from clothes, even dried ones like these.

You CAN remove blood stains from clothes, even dried ones like these.

Blood on Your Clothes? Don't Throw Them Out Just Yet

I'm the mother of three children who seem to have a propensity for injuring themselves. Two of them play sports regularly, so bloody knees and elbows come with the territory. What I wasn't quite prepared for when entering my role as a mother was the colossal task I'd face removing blood stains from their clothes.

Early on in my career, I ended up throwing away plenty of shirts and pants that were apparently doomed. Fortunately, I have lots of mom friends . . . and apparently, their kids are clumsy too. Anyway, I learned some amazing tricks from them that I want to share. This soccer season, I've already successfully rescued one dried-blood-stained shirt from certain death.

How to Treat Fresh Blood Stains

One thing is for sure, the sooner you attend to the blood stain, the better. Once the stain is set, it's much more difficult to remove it. It's not impossible, but it will involve more elbow grease.

If You Catch the Stain Right Away

  1. Take a cotton cloth and absorb as much of the blood as you can.
  2. Then, run cold water over the stain immediately. Notice I said COLD water, warm or hot water will only help to set the stain further.
  3. Now you'll need to soak the stain in cold water for about an hour. I've had success with the water-only method providing I caught the stain early on.
  4. If you still see remnants of the stain, grab your hydrogen peroxide. Mix a little bit of your laundry detergent with hydrogen peroxide. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of detergent to a 1/2 cup.
  5. Test a small patch to make sure it doesn't fade the fabric itself!
  6. With a sponge or a clean rag, dab on a small amount and allow it to sit for a few minutes. When it foams, you know the peroxide is doing its job.
  7. Wait for the blood stain to fade, wash with cold water, and hopefully it will be gone.

Alternatively, if you have an enzyme cleaner like Nature's Miracle, my own personal favorite, spray that on the fabric and allow it to sit. It may take an hour or so for the stain to fade. I use this method when I have a fabric that doesn't react well with hydrogen peroxide.

OxyClean is another life-saver for blood stains. If you have kids, I highly recommend you have it in your cleaning arsenal. Just follow the directions and run the garment through the washer on a cold water setting.

How to Remove Dried Blood Stains From Clothes

Don't worry . . . it's not hopeless. Sometimes we just don't catch the stains before they've had a chance to set. Or, occasionally we've washed the garment with the stain and then placed it in a hot dryer, unwittingly making the stain more stubborn. Fret not—you can get rid of it. Here are some tried-and-true methods.

  • Method #1: Use the detergent/hydrogen peroxide mixture discussed above. Wash garment in cold water and check the stain. If it's gone, dry as usual. If not, try one of the techniques below.
  • Method #2: Make a paste out of meat tenderizer, salt, baking soda and a little bit of water. Meat tenderizer is an enzymatic powder, so it's great for breaking down the proteins in blood. Add equal amounts of all three dry ingredients and enough water to moisten it into a thick paste. Work it in with your fingers and allow it to sit for an hour.
  • Method #3: Put some diluted ammonia on a cotton swab or cotton ball and dab it onto the stain. One part ammonia to three parts water is an effective concentration. Rinse with cold water then blot dry with a clean cloth.

Treating Bloody Dry-Clean-Only Clothes

Okay, not the most desirable scenario, I know.

Method #1: Cold Water

Your first line of defense with dry-clean-only clothing is to immediately flush the blood stain with cold water. Then blot, blot and blot again with a paper towel or an absorbent cotton cloth.

Method #2: Spit

Okay, brace yourself for this next one. Here it goes . . . spit on the stain! That's right, your own saliva is one of the best and safest ways to remove blood stains. It makes sense when you think about it, though. It's a digestive enzyme, so it literally goes to work eating away at that pesky stain. So, spit and rub!

If you still see the stain, take the garment to a professional dry cleaner.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2011 Elsie Nelson


Elsie Nelson (author) from Pacific Northwest, USA on January 02, 2012:

I hear you about the sports. My son and his baseball pants... all I can say is "YIKES!" Good thing we all have spit. Good luck and thanks for the visit.

Teresa Coppens from Ontario, Canada on January 01, 2012:

Great hub. I have three boys participating in football, baseball, soccer and horseback riding. Football seems to produce the most injuries. Love the use of hydrogen peroxide for removing blood as I always have lots on hand. Spit is always in supply as well. I'll keep this hub in mind next football season or before knowing my boys!