What Could your Blood be Telling You?
“Out, damn’d spot! Out, I say!” – Lady Macbeth
I can’t decide which of us is more of a disaster, my daughter who once a month like clockwork turns my crisp, white sheets pink, or me, who ruins at least one pair of panties a month because I can’t seem to time my periods properly. With all of the miscellaneous dried bloodstains around, you would think an assassin lived in my house. In any case, we have an issue: How do I remove period blood from clothes, sheets, mattresses, anything we could possibly bleed upon?
Apparently there are two categories of blood stains to consider: fresh and dry blood.
A stain of fresh blood is very easy to remove from clothes, as long as you act very quickly. Just rinse the bloodstained area – either a shirt, a sheet, a pair of jeans or even furniture fabrics – with plenty of cold water. For the most stubborn blood (definitely my daughter’s):
- Marseille soap in a cream: spread it on a sponge, and let it soak for a few seconds. It is very important that the water temperature is very low: heat generally tends to penetrate the blood deep into the fabric.
- White vinegar: first wet the stained garment with cold water and then place it in a basin where white vinegar is poured. Leave it to soak for about half an hour. Then, rub the fabric on itself to try and dissolve the stain. Finally, rinse it with cold water, wash it as usual, and then dry it in the open air.
- Water-based solution and bicarbonate: Let the garment soak in this concoction, and then rub the stain for it to come off.
- Dishwashing detergents: can be a viable alternative to try to eliminate blood from the fabrics.
In any case, try to intervene in a timely manner to prevent the stain from penetrating too deeply in the fibers and make sure you consider the type of damaged fabric (better to use caution, for example, with delicate or silk garments).
It is more difficult to wash dry bloodstains, as it has already penetrated into the cloth fibers, which makes it resistant to normal washing. However, there are several remedies that you can try to put into practice:
- Hydrogen peroxide: releasing a lot of oxygen in contact with biological elements and protein substances, hydrogen peroxide allows effective removal of dry blood from the fibers. Just apply a few drops directly on the area, let it act for a few seconds until the typical white bubbles appear, and pat it with an absorbent cloth. Considering the intense action of the product, first make sure that the fabric color will resist by testing a hidden corner of the item of clothing stained. Using hydrogen peroxide is usually recommended for cotton, but not for more delicate fabrics such as silk, wool and some synthetics.
- Sparkling water: the principle is similar to that of hydrogen peroxide, yet not as effective. This time, it’s the carbon dioxide that releases tiny bubbles that provokes a mechanical action that leads to the stain-lifting process. Sparkling water is best used for the most delicate or less resistant color fabrics such as silk and some synthetics.
- Ethyl alcohol: definitely not the friendliest of solutions in the environment but it is certainly more effective than many other detergents, because it tends to evaporate very quickly. Ethyl alcohol – the one that is normally used for disinfection and cleaning of the home – has the effect of rapidly melting the encrusted blood. It can be very convenient as an emergency remedy, for fabrics for which hydrogen peroxide is not recommended. Be careful, however: alcohol can dilute and discolour