Blood stains can send a shiver of dread down anyone's spine, and not just because they can be quite gruesome. They are also notoriously hard to remove. Because of their reputation as stubborn stains, many people assume it's game over as soon as a drop of blood touches their living room carpet, but this doesn't have to be the case. There are methods for removing blood stains that can be very effective. Let the Cleanup Team show you how!
So what is it about blood stains in particular that make them so difficult to remove? Blood is chock full of proteins, iron particles, and lipids (fats) so it is a complex liquid. Not only is it complex but blood also has specific properties that make it much harder to shift than lots of other stains.
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Blood clots. Clotting occurs when a blood vessel is damaged which sends out chemical signals which cause the blood to thicken. When outside of the body, it forms a dry, hard covering over the wound which serves two purposes: to stop the flow of blood and to prevent bacteria from entering the wound that could cause an infection.
This mechanism can be literally life-saving when we've injured ourselves but it is also one of the reasons that removing blood stains from carpet is so difficult. The clotting mechanism creates fibrous strands that knit together to form a mesh. When blood is spilt, these strands loop themselves around the carpet fibres and once they harden and clot it can make it extremely hard to get them moving again.
Another reason why it is so hard to remove a blood stain from carpet is the proteins in the blood, especially when they are heated. Many people when they see a stain will reach straight for the hot or warm water but this can make the stain worse.
This is because heat causes the proteins in the blood to bind together, creating an even harder clot.
While blood is mostly organic materials, it also contains inorganic materials like iron which is also very effective at knitting together. This can make it more difficult to remove blood stains because many cleaning solutions work on organic materials.
Of course, this is true for cleaning any stain but it is especially true for blood stains because you need to aim to get it removed before the clotting process happens and the blood dries. A dried blood stain is much harder to tackle than wet blood.
If you want to keep the blood as wet as possible while you come up with a cleaning solution, it can be a good idea to douse it in cold water to keep the area wet. Remember to use cold water or lukewarm water, not warm or hot water.
In some cases, you may be able to remove blood from carpet just by using water. Keep spraying water and wiping at the stain with a damp cloth and it might come out, as long as you have got there quickly enough.
Often, water isn't enough to remove even fresh blood stains from carpet. But don't panic! There are lots of options for methods that can be effective. The best stain remover could already be sitting in your cupboard or you can make your own solution.
Detergent is an effective stain remover and can often be used to get blood out of carpet. Detergents are water soluble and they contain molecules that combine with dirt, grease, and other impurities to make them water-soluble as well. This works to lift them from the surface they are on.
There are lots of different types of detergents but they all work similarly. An easily accessible detergent that you can grab in a second is washing up liquid detergent/dish soap. Mix it with cold water and pour it into a spray bottle. Spray the affected surface, making sure that the entire blood stain is soaking wet.
Use a damp rag to dab the area and then a dry cloth to wipe the excess away. Keep repeating the process and after some time, the blood should start to lift. Then you can leave it to air dry and you should see that the stain disappears.
Will white vinegar remove blood stains? It seems to be able to do pretty much any other household cleaning task. And the acetic acid in white vinegar can dissolve blood but this treatment is only effective if you get to the fresh blood immediately. If the blood has already stained carpet fibres then you may need to try something else.
If a simple detergent isn't doing the job, you can break out the big guns and reach for the oxygen bleach. This is a type of bleach that doesn't contain chlorine and you're most likely to be familiar with it in its use to dye hair blonde.
Of course, bleaching agents can themselves discolour your carpet so before you soak the area in hydrogen peroxide it is a good idea to do a small patch test with a cotton swab in an unnoticeable area or any carpet scraps you have lying around.
Apply a small amount of hydrogen peroxide to the blood stain and then leave for about an hour or two. Next, blot the area to remove the blood stain. You may need to repeat the procedure a few times.
Once the stain has been removed, you can rinse the area with warm water and leave it to dry.
OxiClean is a commercial stain remover that contains hydrogen peroxide but it can be much more effective than hydrogen peroxide alone. This is because it also contains the bleach-activating agent tetraacetylethylenediamine (TAED). When mixed with hydrogen peroxide, TAED creates the compound peracetic acid which is a much stronger bleach than hydrogen peroxide alone.
OxiClean is more commonly used as a way of making white laundry whiter but it can also be an effective carpet stain remover. Mix a solution of OxiClean with water, as per the instructions. Then saturate the blood stains and blot them with a white cloth and leave it for five minutes.
Repeat this process until the stain is removed and then rinse the area with cold water and use a dry towel to blot it off.
Before we start, remember that you should never use ammonia on wool carpet. This is because ammonia is a strong alkali and will irreversibly damage the wool carpet fibres.
With that being said, ammonia is an effective stain remover when used carefully. Make a mixture of a couple of tablespoons of ammonia in a spray bottle of water and spray it on the affected area and leave it to soak in for around 10 minutes.
Next, gently blot the stain with a wet cloth and go back over it with a dry white cloth. You may need to repeat this a few times.
Sometimes, bleach-based stain removers like hydrogen peroxide and OxiClean aren't enough to clean blood stains. While bleach is effective at breaking down the colour-causing molecules in blood stains, it can struggle with the organic compounds found in the blood.
An enzyme-based stain remover will contain proteases which are the enzymes that break down large protein molecules into smaller molecules. These smaller molecules are soluble in water so can be removed by washing the area with cold water.
If you have bought an enzyme stain remover in liquid form, you can spray this mixture directly onto the blood stain and then blot it with a white cloth. Remember to leave it to soak in and leave it for five minutes before blotting.
Once the cloth starts to show that there is no more blood to remove, you can rinse it with cold water. Either leave it to air dry or you can use a wet vac to get the water up.
For stubborn stains, a salt paste can be a clever addition to your cleaning solution. While other stain removal compounds are designed to attack the protein or the colour-causing compounds in the blood, salt directly helps to break down the iron.
To make a paste, mix water and enough salt to form a thin paste (this will be a lot!). Apply the paste to the blood stain and leave it for five minutes. Then remove the salt paste with cold water and a cloth. Remember to blot, not rub.
You can also make a similar paste using two parts baking soda and one part water. This can help to remove blood out of carpet by agitating the molecules and shifting them from the carpet fibres. You should do a patch test in an unnoticeable place before using this method on the blood stain because baking soda can sometimes cause bleaching.
Dried blood is definitely harder to remove than wet blood. This is because the blood has clotted and attached itself to the carpet fibres. You can still get dried blood out of the carpet with some patience and a little elbow grease.
Your first task is to remove excess blood that has dried and is sitting on top of the blood stain. You can do this with a steel brush, a hard brush, or even (at a push) a toothbrush. A soft brush probably won't be as effective.
Gently scrub the dried blood stains to remove the blood that is sitting on top of the carpet pile. You can vacuum it up if the small dried pieces spread. Now you will be left only with the dried blood that is in between the fibres.
Your next goal is to make the remaining dried blood wet again. Remember to avoid warm water if you can and use cold water to douse the stain. Afterwards, you can use any of the stain remover techniques we have already covered.
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Getting blood out of the carpet is no easy task, that's for sure. If you have tried all of the methods to remove blood that we have mentioned here and it still hasn't worked, then it might be time to bring in a professional. Here at the Cleanup Team, we have the knowledge, skills, and understanding to be able to approach removing stains systematically. If anyone can get blood from carpet, it will be someone just like us!
No one wants blood stains and everyone knows that removing blood out of carpet can be extremely difficult. But that doesn't mean that you have to give up immediately and go out and buy a new one. It is possible to remove even a tricky stain like blood using a variety of techniques.