What Takes Blood Out of Clothes?

If you’ve found yourself in a situation in which a clothing item you like has been bloodied, you may not be absolutely certain what you can and should do to get blood out of clothing. The process to employ to get blood out of a clothing item begins with determining whether the blood is fresh or has dried. Strategies for each of these situations are discussed in turn.

Removing Fresh Blood from Clothing

If you are able to tend to blood on clothing while it is still fresh and has not dried, you’ve a far better chance of stain removal success.

Rinse with Cold Water

If you are like many people, if not most, you already have at least some familiarity with the first step to take as part of the process of getting fresh blood out of clothing. Rinse the fresh blood stain with fresh water. You will have the results doing this immediately.

Even people who know to rinse a fresh blood stain in cold water fail to take this step properly. The proper way of rinsing blood out of clothing with cold water is to do it from behind the stain. Running cold water directly on top of the blood stain, rather than from behind, can work to spread the stain and make the situation a bit more problematic.

The use off cold water is not a proverbial “old wive’s tail.” Time and again when faced with a fresh blood stain, people ignore this admonish. If you were to use hot water, you’ll end up setting the stain. If you use warm water, you will have the same result. A set blood stain can prove highly difficult, even impossible, to get out.

The possibility exists that you will be able to fully flush out fresh blood and can launder the clothing item in cold water. It’s possible, but not likely. Odds are you will need to take blood stain removal and use another treatment strategy before laundering the garment.

Strategies to Treat a Fresh Blood Stain

Once you’ve completed rinsing the stain from behind with cold water, you’re ready to apply one or another of these six strategies to remove fresh blood from clothing. Selecting from these strategies depends on a number of factors. These include:

  • Type of fabric
  • Color of fabric
  • Extent of stain remaining

Treat Stain with Hydrogen Peroxide

This method can be use on white or very light-colored fabric. If you want to be extra cautious, only use this treatment on white clothing. You can follow this procedure on colored clothing items using either club soda or white vinegar. These two alternatives tend not to be quite as effective at removing a blood stain as hydrogen peroxide, but they can work.

Pour the hydrogen peroxide directly onto the blood stain (not from behind as you did with the cold water).  Use the same process for club soda or white vinegar.

Leave the liquid on the blood stain for 20 to 25 minutes. After that time, pat the residue that remains lightly using a paper towel.

Hydrogen peroxide can turn to water when exposed to light. Thus, if you are in fairly bright space, cover the treated area with a piece of plastic. Place a towel on top of the plastic. The towel will block the light as the plastic wrap prevents the towel from soaking up the hydrogen peroxide.

Launder in cold water.

Treat Stain with Ammonia-Based Window Cleaner

A potentially easy fix, for nearly any color fabric, is to treat the stained area with an ammonia-based window cleaner. Very dark colors might stain when coming into contact with window cleaner. Spray the window cleaner directly onto the stain. Let the treated garment sit for 15 minutes. Rinse out from behind. 

Launder in cold water.

Treat Stain with Diluted Ammonia

Fill a spray bottle with a combination of water and ammonia. The ratio is 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of ammonia. Shake the mixture. Take care on darkly colored items. Test a small, more hidden area to make sure it doesn’t bleach the garment.

Spray the mixture directly onto the stain. Wait between 30 to 60 minutes and then blot the residue with a clean cloth.

Launder in cold water.

Treat Stain with Baking Soda Paste

Mix 1-part baking soda together with 2-parts water to create a paste. In place of baking soda, you can also use talcum powder, corn starch, or corn flour.

Dampen the stain on the clothing item with cold water. Rub the paste into the stain.

Leave the garment to dry, in the sun if at all possible. Brush of remaining residue.

Launder in cold water.

Treat Stain with Salt and Dish Soap

Mix 2-tablespoons or salt with 1-tablespooin of dish soap. In the alternative, you can also use shampoo.

Dampen the stain with cold water. Soak the stain with the soap mixture. Let sit for 15 to 30 minutes.

Launder in cold water.

Removing Dried Blood from Clothing

A dried blood stain is likely to prove more challenging than addressing a fresh one.

Soak in Cold Water

Soak stain in cold water for several hours or overnight. You do need to keep in mind that the stain may have set. In other words, soaking in cold water and then employing one of these strategies may be ineffective.

Strategies to Treat a Dried Blood Stain

Once you’ve soaked the stain as directed, you can utilize one of these strategies (depending on the nature of the stain).

Treat Stain with White Vinegar

Soak the stain in white vinegar. Let the stain soak for 30 minutes.

Launder in cold water.

Treat Stain with Meat Tenderizer Paste

If the dried blood stain isn’t responding to other efforts, make a paste using 1-tablespoon of meat tenderizer and 2-teaspoons of cold water. Spread the past over the stain, working it into the fabric itself.

Leave the paste on the garment for 30 to 60 minutes. Brush of paste residue.

Launder in cold water.

Cautionary Note

When dealing with blood, or other bodily fluids, take care not to come into direct contact. Blood and other bodily fluids can contain dangerous pathogens that can cause serious diseases, including:

  • HIV
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • MRSA