How to Remove Blood Stains from Carpet

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Don't panic! Getting blood out of a carpet is easier than you think...as long as you follow a few important guidelines.

Carpet is a major investment. It’s also one of the most noticeable things in any given room. That’s why it’s so distressing when you get blood on it. (In addition, of course, to whatever mishap caused the bleeding in the first place.) Luckily, all is not lost when this happens—far from it, in fact. You just need to know how to remove stains and the magic formula for how to get blood out of a carpet, which is a slightly different process than getting blood out of your clothes, your sheets, or any other household items.

The key is to act immediately, though you can also remove dried blood from a carpet with a little extra elbow grease and patience. “Blood can stain carpet very quickly,” notes Leo Grover, owner of the restoration company Pinnacle Emergency Management, “so the sooner it can be blotted up and removed, the better.” Here’s what you need to know—and what you need to have on hand—to banish those blood stains from sight.

What you’ll need

  • White cloth
  • Liquid dishwashing detergent

  • Hydrogen peroxide

  • Carpet stain remover that’s designed to break down enzymes

  • Ammonia

  • Baking soda

  • Salt

How to remove fresh blood stains from carpet

No matter what stain treatment you’re using, the steps for removing blood stains from carpet are the same.

  1. Wet a white cloth with cold water. Never use warm or hot water for this task, since it can set the stain into the carpet.
  2. Blot the spot, pushing up and down with your cloth as opposed to rubbing it back and forth. Resist the urge to rub or scrub the affected area; this will only push the blood stain deeper into the carpet pile and possibly embed it into your carpet’s fibers. You also risk crushing the pile and ruining your carpet’s texture.
  3. Repeat this blotting process, with clean parts of the cloth, until no more blood is being transferred to the cloth. Then, blot the area with a dry white cloth. In cases where you’ve addressed the issue quickly enough or your carpet has excellent built-in stain protection, this may be all you need to remove the stain.
  4. Use a stain treatment if water alone doesn’t remove the stain. (See below for the specifics, depending on which product you’re using.)
  5. Use a clean, white cloth to blot the stain until the blood has been fully transferred from the carpet to the cloth.
  6. Blot the area with cold water to remove any remaining solution.
  7. Finally, blot the area gently with a dry cloth.

how to get blood stains out of carpetAlaina DiGiacomo/rd.comHow to use stain removers

Big jobs call for lots of stain remover, right? Wrong. When it comes to your carpet, less is more. “One of the main perils of using too much cleaner is that you may remove the spot but leave residue,” explains Grover. The residue left on your carpet could trap in dirt or weigh down your carpet so it becomes flat and matted.

“Another issue with using too much cleaner is that the stain can potentially re-appear—this is due to soapy residue left behind,” adds Jotham Hatch, vice president of training at Chem-Dry. “Although the treated area may look good at first, the spot will come back because the soapy residue continues to attract dirt.” Ack! An easy way to prevent yourself from falling into this trap is to apply the stain remover to your cloth instead of directly on your carpet. This will give you more control. Here are more cleaning mistakes you should avoid at all costs.

The most effective stain removers for blood

Believe it or not, you might already have everything you need. Some common household items can often get the job done, though, for truly stubborn stains, you might need the extra oomph of a store-bought solution.

Hydrogen peroxide

There are many hydrogen peroxide uses out there, and removing stains is one of them. Hydrogen peroxide is actually a mild bleach with wonderful cleaning and disinfectant properties. Most of the time, it’s perfectly safe to use on carpet. However, this is not something you should take for granted, so you should perform a spot test first. (This is a good use for leftover carpet scraps if you have them; if not, the back corner of a closet is a good test spot.) If no discoloration occurs, it’s safe to use it on your carpet.

Next, wet a white cloth with the hydrogen peroxide. Then, blot, don’t rub, exactly as you did with the cold water. Once you’ve succeeded in getting blood out of the carpet and onto your cloth, blot the area with cold water to remove the hydrogen peroxide. Follow up by blotting with a dry cloth.

Liquid dishwashing detergent

There are a few things you should never clean with dish soap, but carpet isn’t one of them. In fact, both Grover and Hatch say it’s their favorite ordinary household product for removing blood. Mix one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing detergent with two cups of cold water, and dip a white cloth into the mixture. Then, follow the same steps as above, blotting the blood stain until the soiled spot has transferred from your carpet to the cloth. Afterward, blot with cold water to soak up any remaining dishwashing liquid. When you’re through, blot gently with a dry cloth.

Ammonia

If you try the dishwashing detergent method and the stain doesn’t come clean, repeat the process, adding a tablespoon of ammonia to the dishwashing liquid/water mixture. Then go through the steps above once again. Note: Ammonia has a strong odor, so it’s best to open the window to increase ventilation when you’re working with it. Also, it becomes toxic if you combine it with bleach, so never mix those two products.

Salt

Salt is good for more than just popcorn! It can actually be used to remove blood stains, especially if you prefer to use natural cleaning solutions in your home. If the stain is fresh and still wet, combine salt and cold water together until you form a thick paste. Then, spread it over the carpet until you’ve completely covered the stain. Salt contains powerful absorbent properties, and it will draw the blood into the paste. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Then carefully scrape off the remnants of the paste with a spoon. If the carpet is still soiled, repeat as necessary, following up with another stain treatment if needed. When finished, vacuum the area to eliminate any salt particles. FYI, here are more clever uses for salt that have nothing to do with cooking.

Store-bought stain remover

To remove especially tough blood stains, you may have to rely on a store-bought stain remover like Kids ‘N’ Pets Instant All-Purpose Stain & Odor Remover. This product has an enzyme formula that breaks down the proteins in blood, grass, pet stains, and more and makes them easier to remove. It’s a good thing to have on hand since it works for the many types of accidents that tend to arise in busy households. Grover says that when using an enzyme formula, you should check the label to make sure it’s recommended for carpet. Then, follow the instructions on the packaging. To be on the safe side, it’s always best to perform a spot test first.

How to remove dried blood from carpet

Wondering how to get dried blood out of carpet? The process isn’t much different from the guidelines above, with one big exception: You first need to scrape off as much of the dried blood as possible.

  1. Using the back of a spoon, gently “comb” the affected area to break up any hard deposits. Do not use a brush, fork, or anything that might snag or fray your carpet fibers. This is especially important with looped carpets.
  2. Vacuum up the debris. Don’t skip this step; otherwise, the dried blood will turn to liquid again when you moisten it and continue to stain your carpet.
  3. Next, use a stain remover. To make your own pre-treatment, mix the following ingredients in a spray bottle: 1 cup of cold water, 1 cup of vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Then spray the mixture directly on top of the stain. For especially tough stains, a store-bought stain remover will probably be your best bet. Here are other homemade carpet cleaner options to consider.
  4. Allow the pre-treatment to sit on the carpet for 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Use a clean, white cloth to blot the stain until the blood has been fully transferred from the carpet to the cloth.
  6. Blot with cold water to remove any remaining solution.
  7. And last but not least, the area gently with a dry cloth.

Now that you know the secrets to removing blood stains, turn to the other stubborn spots in your home. Next up: Learning how to remove red wine stains from your carpet.

Sources:

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Tamara Gane
Tamara Gane is a regular contributor to Reader's Digest covering travel, lifestyle, history, and culture. Her work has also appeared in The Washington Post, NPR, Al Jazeera, Wine Enthusiast, Lonely Planet, HuffPost Food, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @TamaraGane