Next to red wine, blood is one of the most feared stains on carpet. Kids running into furniture or walls, nose bleeds, accidental cuts, and any number of other accidents can lead to your carpet look like something out of a TV murder crime scene.
Besides being instantly recognizable as blood, the red color can be very noticeable if you have a lighter colored carpet. The reason why blood stains are so difficult to get out of fabric such as carpet fibers lies in the chemical makeup of blood. Hemoglobin, the same thing that allows blood to move oxygen around your body, also acts as a binding agent which will quickly set the stain. Therefore, it is very important to act fast to treat and remove the blood.
What we recommend as the best method for getting blood stains out of carpet depends on if the stain is fresh or if it has dried. As mentioned above, dried blood requires more work to fully remove it.
You should keep in mind that the methods we describe below may not be suitable for every type of carpet. Antique, Persian, Oriental, or other special carpets may require professional cleaning. If you would like to try removing stains on these yourself, we suggest you try the method on a hidden spot and wait for 15 minutes to make sure the treatment does not discolor the fabric.
How to Remove Fresh Blood
If a stain has just occurred, you need to act quickly to keep it from setting. Lightly blotting or dabbing the blood with a clean cloth or paper towel can remove a good bit of blood before it contacts the fabric. Make sure you only blot lightly to avoid pushing more blood into the carpet. The cloth you use should be one you don’t mind throwing away or using as a rag. Don’t use anything you don’t want stained! Begin from the edge of the stain and then move towards the center. Fight the urge to rub the stain as this will only spread the blood around and drive it deeper into the fabric.
Wet With Cold Water
If you have one, use a spray bottle to lightly spray the blood with cold water. If you don’t have a spray bottle, you can also pour a small amount of cold water using a glass. Use just enough water to dampen the carpet. You don’t need to douse it. Let this sit for a couple of minutes. Many people suggest the use of tonic water or club soda instead of water. We recommend you don’t use tonic water as it has other chemicals and sweeteners which can make your carpet sticky. Club soda is basically CO2 and water and won’t leave any sticky residue. The bubbles may agitate the blood molecules and make it easier to remove.
Keep repeating the steps above until the stain is gone. It may take a little while, but you should be able to get the stain out. If you have a wet vacuum or a carpet cleaner, you can then use these to remove the moisture.
Keep it Cold!
Never use warm or hot water. High temperatures will set the stain permanently.
If the steps above fail to work, using salt might help. Make a salt paste with cold water and salt. Apply some of the mixture onto the stain and let it sit for two or three minutes. Then blot the salt and blood again using a clean cloth. You should be able to see the blood coming off the carpet as it transfers to the cloth. Salt crystals can damage carpet fibers, so be sure to vacuum the area after you are finished removing the stain.
Use Diluted Dish Soap
If salt doesn’t work, use a small amount of liquid dish soap. Mix one or two teaspoons with cold water and soak a white cloth in the mixture. Dab the solution on the stain and then use a spray bottle or different cloth to rinse the stained area. Blot again with a dry cloth.
Be sure not to use any soap with bleach or lanolin as these additives can discolor your carpet.
Dry the Carpet
After the blood stain is removed, you need to dry your carpet. Any moisture left can seep into the padding below and lead to mold. Use a portable fan if you have one. You can also speed up the process by pressing dry paper towels into the carpet.
Restore the Fibers
If all this dabbing and pressing has pushed your carpet fibers down, you can either vacuum the area or use a toothbrush to fluff up the formerly stained area.
How to Remove Dried Blood
Take heart—it can be done! Since the blood is already dried, try to pry some of the blood away before applying any liquid. Try using a dull knife (like a butter knife) across the stain. This can loosen some of the blood that hasn’t attached to the carpet. Don’t try this on more valuable carpets as it may damage the fibers.
Shampoo and Ammonia
Ammonia is a powerful cleaning agent which should be used carefully, especially on silk or wool. It can get blood out but can take the original color along with it! Ammonia can be used by itself but it’s best to start with detergent to set up the process. This helps reduce the amount of ammonia needed and the time your carpet will be exposed to it, thus lowering the risk of damage.
Pour a cup of cold water into a spray bottle and mix with two teaspoons of shampoo or liquid dish soap. Allow the two to mix for five minutes.
Mix one cup of cold water and one tablespoon of ammonia in another spray bottle.
Spray the shampoo mixture first, then blot dry. Once dry, spray on the ammonia and let sit for five minutes. Use a clean dry cloth to blot the ammonia. Finally, spray cold water and blot dry.
Concentrated ammonia packs a punch with toxic fumes. It can also irritate eyes and skin. Gloves, goggles, and a mask are recommended. If possible, open the window or ventilate the space.
Enzyme cleaners help bacteria break down organic matter, such as blood. There are several commercially available enzyme cleaners like “Bubba’s Super Strength.” Be sure to follow any manufacturer’s instructions. Do not use enzyme cleaners on organic fibers like silk or wool since the enzymes can break down the fabric along with the stain.
It can be done!
Removing blood from a carpet is tough, but it is not impossible. Quick action, the right tools, and the right methods can save your carpet. Just remember to fight the urge to rub a new bloodstain. Rubbing increases the stained area and grinds the blood deeper into the carpet. And always use cold water, since hot water will make the blood bind to the fabric even more.