How to Get Blood Out of Clothes

Everyone seems to have a secret to removing blood stains. These are the methods that actually work.

Blood is one of the trickiest stains to treat. Like other bodily fluids, such as vomit, urine, and sweat (sorry!), blood is a protein stain. But unlike other protein stains, blood stains change over time, as oxidation of hemoglobins begins to happen when blood exits the body, causing blood stains to morph from bright red to dark brown.

Additionally, there are so many ways to remove blood stains, and many of the methods are quite unconventional. You might have heard a dancer tell you that spit is the way to remove blood stains from the ankles of tights or recall your grandfather making a paste of meat tenderizer to slap on a blood-stained pillow. But which methods actually work?

blood stain on white shirt with cleaning products
David Izquierdo / 500px

Do Home Remedies Work for Blood Stain Removal?

A tricky thing about blood stains is that there are so many solutions that people swear by, from crushing up aspirin to make a stain poultice, to soaking a blood-stained item in milk. Figuring out which of these methods to use can be confusing.

Two things to know about these types of stain treatments: 1. They work, and 2. No single method is the exclusive remedy for blood stains. To be sure, some are better than others. To find the best one for your needs, consider what has been stained, how large and/or set-in the stain is, and which products you have available to remove the stain.

Some, but not all, of the methods you might hear about for removing a blood stain include:

While each of these methods work to varying degrees, we'll provide how-to instructions for the three most common blood-stain removal methods, as well as tips for removing set-in blood stains and blood stains on white clothing.

handwashing clothes in sink
Mariakray/Getty Images

How to Remove Blood Stains Using Soap and Water

Soap and water is the best way to remove most blood stains; this is especially true of fresh blood stains on clothing or other small items like pillowcases.

What You'll Need

  • Soap (bar soap, hand soap, dish soap, shampoo, liquid laundry detergent, etc.)
  • Running water

Step 1: Flush the Stain

Start by flushing the blood stain with cold running water. If possible, run the water through the back of the stained garment, so that the stain is pushed away from the fabric rather than through it. You might find that simply flushing the stain with water removes it.

Step 2: Apply Soap to the Stain

Using your thumb and forefinger, rub a small amount of liquid soap, such as hand or dish soap, into the fabric. If using bar soap, wet the bar and rub it directly on the stain. Work the soap into the stain using your fingers and, if possible, rub the stained fabric against itself.

Step 3: Alternate Soap and Water

Alternate massaging soap into the stain and flushing the area with cold running water to push the stain out of the fabric.

Step 4: Launder as Usual

Repeat as needed until the stain is gone, then flush with cold running water to remove the soap residue and launder the garment as usual.

How to Remove Blood Stains Using Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent blood stain remover that works well on both fresh and set-in blood stains. However, hydrogen peroxide can have a bleaching effect on some textiles, so it's important to perform a spot test before using it for stain removal.

What You'll Need

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Water
  • Light-colored cloth

Step 1: Test for Color Loss

Test the hydrogen peroxide in an inconspicuous spot to make sure it doesn't cause color loss.

Step 2: Apply Hydrogen Peroxide to Stain

Apply hydrogen peroxide to a light-colored cloth and gently dab at the stain. For larger stains, use a spray bottle to mist the area with hydrogen peroxide. For smaller stains, use a cotton swab to dab the hydrogen peroxide on the stain.

Step 3: Rinse

Once the stain has been removed, dip the cloth in clean water and rinse the area to remove residue from the hydrogen peroxide.

How to Remove Blood Stains Using an Enzymatic Stain Remover

Enzymatic stain removers, including those formulated to clean up pet messes, break down blood stains in launderable garments.

What You'll Need

  • An enzymatic stain treatment product
  • Laundry detergent
  • A laundry brush (optional)

Step 1: Flush Stain with Cold Water

Before applying a stain treatment, flush the stain with cold running water.

Step 2: Apply Enzymatic Stain Treatment

Apply an enzymatic stain treatment to the stain; more set-in stains might benefit from the use of a laundry brush to penetrate and break down the stain.

Step 3: Launder as Usual

Launder the item, as usual, using cold water and the machine's regular setting, unless otherwise specified on the garment's care tag.

Step 4: Check the Stain Prior to Drying

After laundering a blood-stained item, check that the stain was fully eliminated in the wash. If there is still staining, do not put the item in the dryer, as heat will set the stain.

blue laundry room with ironing board
John Granen

How to Remove Blood Stains from White Clothing

When it comes to removing blood stains from white clothes, it's important to apply a stain treatment and launder the garment as soon as possible. When washing blood-stained whites, it's best to avoid using chlorine bleach, which causes a chemical reaction that can deepen protein stains like blood. If you're unable to immediately launder a blood-stained garment, dab the stain with water or, if possible, flush it with cool running water.

What You'll Need

  • Enzymatic stain treatment product
  • Laundry detergent
  • Laundry brush (optional)

Step 1: Flush Stain with Cold Water

Before applying a stain treatment, flush the stain with cold running water.

Step 2: Apply Enzymatic Stain Treatment

Apply an enzymatic stain treatment to the stain; more set-in stains might benefit from the use of a laundry brush to penetrate and break down the stain.

Step 3: Launder

Launder the item, as usual, using cold water and the machine's regular setting, unless otherwise specified on the garment's care tag.

Step 4: Check Stain Prior to Drying

After laundering a blood-stained item, check that the stain was fully eliminated in the wash. If there is still staining, do not put the item in the dryer, as heat will set the stain.

How to Remove Set-in Blood Stains

Soaking a heavily blood-stained item in an oxygen bleach solution is a hands-off way to remove stains from bulky or large items, like white jeans or hoodies, or large stains from smaller items, like a white tee that's borne the brunt of a bloody nose.

What You'll Need

  • Oxygen bleach
  • A wash basin (optional)
  • Laundry detergent

Step 1: Identify a Place to Soak the Garment

Soak a stained item in any vessel large enough to hold water and the item in need of cleaning, such as a kitchen or bathroom sink, a utility sink, a bathtub, a bucket, or a wash basin. If you have a top-loading washing machine that allows for it, you can also soak the item right in the washer's basin.

Step 2: Fill Basin with Hot Water

Fill the basin about halfway up, and no more than ⅔ full, with hot water, leaving enough room to fully submerge the item.

Step 3: Add Oxygen Bleach

Oxygen bleach should be dissolved in hot water; if the garment in need of soaking cannot tolerate hot water, allow the solution to cool before introducing it. Follow the package instructions for dosing.

Step 4: Submerge Stained Item

Place the item in the oxygen bleach solution, using your hands to fully submerge it. Then, use your hands to agitate the item so that the solution can penetrate its fibers.

Step 5: Soak Garment

Allow the item to soak for an hour up to overnight, then launder as usual.

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