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Blood stains may look right at home on Halloween costumes but they’re a royal pain when they accidentally get on clothes.
We asked cleaning expert Carolyn E. Forte to give us the scoop on tackling these serious stain makers. As director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Lab for Home Appliances & Cleaning Products and Textiles, she’s worked on lots of blood stains and really knows what works. The best part? You probably already have the stain solver in your medicine cabinet. Here's how to remove blood stains from clothes, furniture and carpets.
How to get blood out of clothes
First things first. Act quickly! As with all stains, the sooner you deal with blood stains, the better. The first step is to sponge the area with cold water. Heat of any kind will set the stain, so the colder the water, the better. Don’t use too much water or you’ll spread the stain. Just dab with a wet cloth, then blot with a dry cloth. Repeat until you’ve removed as much of the blood as possible.
Hit the medicine cabinet and grab this one thing
Grab your bottle of hydrogen peroxide! Just apply a small amount of hydrogen peroxide directly to the stain and watch as the red blood stain disappears. In the case of old or stubborn stains, reapply as needed. After the stain is removed, rinse the area with cold water to remove any peroxide that may be left behind. ER nurses swear by this trick to get splatters out of clothes!
“Of course, you’ll want to try the peroxide in a hidden spot first,” says Forte. “Hydrogen peroxide is a mild bleach and, like the ‘oxi’ products on the market, it is usually color-safe, even safe for silk and wool.”
Regarding the claim that peroxide damages fibers, Forte says, “In small doses, it shouldn’t weaken fibers. In any event, it should always be rinsed out.”
But what to do about delicate fabrics? According to Forte, any garment with a care label that says "Dry Clean Only" or any garment or fabric that will water spot or fade or one that can't safely be washed, should be taken to the dry cleaner right away before trying any home stain removal methods. Better safe than sorry!
More laundry products the pros swear by for removing blood stains
Need something a bit stronger? For any washable clothing fabric that can't take even a color-safe bleach, Forte recommends using a laundry pre-treater with enzymes, like Carbona Stain Wizard, and washing in an enzyme detergent, like Tide Liquid Coldwater detergent.
How to get blood stains out of fabric (upholstery) and carpet
Here's a DIY remedy the pros swear by. For carpets and upholstery that do not prove color-safe with hydrogen peroxide, try using a liquid dishwashing detergent. Here's how to get blood out of a couch, for example, as well as other furniture and carpets.
First, mix one tablespoon of dish detergent with two cups of cold water. Grab a clean white cloth, and start sponging the stain with the liquid cleaning solution. Continue to dab the stain with the solution until the stain disappears. Then, sponge again with cold water and blot dry. If you need a little more stain fighting power, Forte suggests using a carpet or upholstery cleaner that's recommended for pet stains. These products often contain enzymes and generally work well for removing blood stains.
This article was originally published on Nov. 14, 2016.