Blood is one of the most difficult stains to remove from clothing, and can stain permanently if left to set. The most important thing to remember is that success is more likely if you treat the stain as soon as possible, and preferably before the item is laundered.
Proven Methods – Salt
The first option is to use salt to remove the stain. This effective method is used in hospitals as the abrasiveness of the salt helps to break down the proteins in the blood, thus loosening the stain. By mixing a paste out of salt and water, you can create a cleaning agent that is perfect for use on items that cannot be put through a regular wash cycle. Rinse the item under cold water, as warm water will set the stain, and rub the paste into the stained area. After rubbing the paste into the stain thoroughly, rinse the affected area with cold water and wash with normal laundry detergent. Ensure that the laundry detergent you use is not a petroleum-based product as real soap is more efficient on stubborn stains.
Toothpaste is another effective cleaning product that can be found in any household. Simply dampen the blood stained fabric and scrub toothpaste into the stain. Let it dry completely and then rinse with plenty of cold water. Wash the item with laundry detergent to remove all remnants of the toothpaste and rinse again. Note that the only sure way to check that the stain has been totally removed is to allow the item to dry.
If the blood stained item of clothing cannot be cleaned immediately, hydrogen peroxide can be used to lift the stain. As this product contains bleach, it is not advisable to use it on delicate fabrics such as silk as it may weaken the fibers and damage the material. Rinse the stained area in cold water and apply a few drops of the product, being careful not to let it spread from the stain. When hydrogen peroxide makes contact with blood it starts to bubble and foam, and as long as the fabric is not too wet it will cease to bubble when the blood particles have been eradicated. Let the product go to work for 10-20 minutes, ensuring that you check it regularly for any bleaching or damage. Wipe the foam away and repeat if necessary. Once the stain has been lifted the item can be rinsed and washed as normal to remove traces of the hydrogen peroxide.
As blood is an organic substance, it can be broken down using enzymes. Enzymes such as proteases, celluloses, and lipase, can be found in many household cleaning products. Best used on sturdier fabrics such as denim, you need to dampen the stain and apply a tablespoon of the enzyme-based product. Leave the stain to dissolve for 2-24 hours, depending on the severity of the stain, and then wash the item as normal to completely remove the blood. Do not attempt to use this method on protein-based materials such as linen, silk and wool, as enzymes break down proteins and may ruin the item.
So, instead of discarding blood-stained clothing, use one of these cleaning methods to remove the stain and have your clothes looking as good as new.
Susan writes articles about uniforms for Happy Threads who supply medical uniforms to companies in Ireland and the UK.