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How to remove blood stains from clothes

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Tackle those tricky stains.

Tackle those tricky stains.

The picture isn’t pretty, but there truly are a great many non-violent ways to get blood stains on clothing. Helping a child staunch a sudden nose bleed, a nick from your paring knife or the drip of raw steak off the cutting board, and you suddenly need to know how to remove blood stains from clothing.

Fresh Stains

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Fresh stains need attention as quickly as possible, and a chemistry-teacher neighbor long ago provided a quick method for removing blood: salt, soap and cold water. Of the three, she insisted the most important element to remember was cold water. Blood contains proteins, and attempting to remove stains with hot water merely sets the stain and in a sense cooking it into the cloth. Accidentally sending a blood-stained fabric through the clothes dryer produces the same effect.

Clean salt, she said, would bond with salt in the stain and soap would bond with any fats, on your skin or in whatever you were cutting. As quickly as you can therefore, run cold water over the stain, sprinkle it heavily with salt and scrub with bar soap. Then rinse it, check it and repeat the steps if necessary.

New Detergents

Some would regard the above as valid but very old-fashioned. New oxygen-based detergents claim to remove blood as well as other stains and are a safe experiment. Remember to keep wash-water cold and do not put the item into the dryer until you are certain the stain is gone.

Keep the Stain Wet

If your fabric is not really washable, keeping the stain wet will still make it easier for your dry cleaner to remove it. Wet with cold water as soon as you can, pucker fabric to fit the stained part in a small plastic bag  and place a rubber band around the bag to keep the moisture in. Get this to your dry cleaner before the fabric dries.


Older Stains

Old and set-in stains on washable fabric may also respond to oxygen-based detergents. Pre-soak it in a small amount of detergent solution, then wash it on a cold setting. You can also see what results you get from salt-soap-cold-water if the stain is faded.

Another Remedy

The other old-fashioned remedy produces good results, not just with set-in blood stains but also with rust and unidentifiable stains. For this you need a big bottle of lemon juice, a box of kosher salt and a heavy-weight zip-close plastic bag (gallon-sized is good). Choose a sunny day because that’s part of the remedy.

  1. Soak the garment in cold water.
  2. Wring it out gently and put it in a plastic bag.
  3. Add two-cups lemon juice and one-half-cup salt.
  4. Seal the bag and massage it to dissolve the salt and soak the garment.
  5. Leave it alone for 10 minutes.
  6. Then remove the garment from the bag, squeezing out the excess lemon salt.
  7. Hang the garment on a wood or plastic hanger in the sun or spread the garment on a towel on the grass.
  8. Leave it to dry (garment will be quite stiff when dry.)
  9. If the stain is gone, wash the garment in plain water until the lemon salt is removed. If it is not, tomorrow is another sunny day.
  10. Dampen the garment with water, rehang and wait.
This is the very best way to de-stain and freshen old linen and, as some will recall, a not-half-bad way to create subtle summer-blond highlights in your hair. This is how to remove blood stains from clothes and emerge with a fresh new look of your own. Old ways are versatile ways and, in this case, much more relaxing and beatifying than new-fangled ideas.


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