How to clean up blood stains

Nosebleeds, cooking accidents, scuffed knees... they'll all lead blood stains on carpets, upholstery and fabrics. Here's how to clean them up

(Image credit: Getty)

Blood will leave permanent stains if it's not cleaned up quickly and using the proper methods – but, treated properly, it can be removed without a visible trace. And, the good news is, you don't always have to use harsh chemicals to remove blood stains. 

As with any stain, the quicker you act, the more likely it is you'll be successful at removing it completely. Plus, as with all our methods, it's always worth doing a spot test, particularly on carpets and upholstery, to ensure you don't cause further damage. Anything you are not sure about, employ a professional – they will be worth the investment.

Use our quick and easy to guide to remove blood stains from carpets, upholstery and fabrics. For more cleaning tips, hacks and advice, see our hub page.

How to remove blood stains from carpets

If the blood is still wet, first blot it carefully with kitchen roll to remove as much of it as possible and to stop it spreading. If it has completely dried – and it does dry quickly – use a stiff brush to loosen it, being careful not to spread the blood across the carpet.

Vacuum up the loosened surface blood, then apply cold (not warm or hot) soapy water to the stain with a white cloth. Blot and rinse, ensuring you are not transferring bloody water back on to the stain. This might mean refreshing the water and/or cloth regularly. Repeat until the stain is gone. 

A stubborn, dried stain may need more than just water to remove it. Make a paste of  one part baking powder and two parts cold water, and dab it on to the stain with a cloth. Leave for half an hour, then wipe off the residue – if it has dried, you can vacuum it up. 

If this doesn't work, (after patch testing) apply a mixture of half a cup of warm water and a tablespoon of household ammonia with a sponge. Blot the stain with kitchen roll until the carpet is just about dry. Now use a clean sponge dipped in cold water only to wet the stain. Blot dry.

Find more ways to clean your carpet of stains.

How to remove blood stains from fabrics

If the fabric is a small, portable item, such as a sheet or favourite shirt, and the blood is fresh, the first thing to do is to quickly run the stain under the cold tap, ensuring you don't allow the bloody water to run over the rest of the clean fabric. This simple treatment might be enough to get the job done.

If the blood has dried already, it is still worth running the stain under the cold tap, rubbing at it with your fingers to loosen it. Then, soak the fabric in cold water and rub the stain with a fabric soap (washing up liquid will do if you don't have any). 

Lather the stain. If soap isn't doing the trick and the fabric is white cotton, you could dab it with hydrogen peroxide to lighten it. Rinse again in cold water, then soak the stain with a pre-treatment stain remover, assuming the fabric will allow it (check the care label if you are unsure). 

Once the stain has gone, put the fabric on a cool wash, using an enzyme detergent, which breaks down protein stains. You can do this step by hand. Do not dry the fabric in a tumble dryer or beneath hot sun if the blood has not lifted at this point. Instead, repeat the steps above. Drying a blood-stained fabric with heat will simply set the stain. 

If you are trying to remove an old blood stain, you may never have complete success but you can lighten stains somewhat by rubbing a halved lemon over the stain and leaving it to dry in sunshine. 

How to remove blood stains from upholstery

Before you begin, check any manufacturer instructions for your upholstery. If you are unsure, and particularly for velvet, silk or antique upholstery, it might be best to consult a cleaning professional.

Start by gently blotting the stain with kitchen roll. Don't rub or scrub at the stain, as this will spread the stain and embed it into the upholstery. 

If the blood has dried, use a stiff brush (a toothbrush will do) to scrape off the residue, which you can then vacuum up. 

Then, using damp sponge or white cloth that's been dipped in cold water, carefully blot at the blood stain. Starting from the outside of the stain and working inwards will stop the stain from spreading. 

Next, apply some carbonated water on to the stain and blot up with kitchen roll. Repeat this process and only stop when your kitchen roll no longer has bloody deposits on it. Do not over-soak the stain or you may spread it.

Mix one part very gentle laundry liquid with four parts cold water in a spray bottle and apply to the stain. Scrub carefully with a sponge (a circular motion will stop it spreading), rinsing out the sponge regularly to avoid blood transfer. 

Continue until the stain is removed, then apply cold water to the area and blot dry to remove any soapy residue. Repeat until the soap is removed.

How to remove blood stains from a mattress

You can safely use the method above for upholstery to remove blood stains from a mattress. 


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