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You don’t have to star in the movie “Carrie” to have a healthy respect, borderline fear, for blood stains in fabric. In fact, most people find the thought of cleaning blood out of any fabric type a daunting task, one akin to the stuff of horror movies for sure. In this easy to understand and comprehensive blog we tackle the issue of removing blood from a variety of fibers found in our fabrics, as a means to an end of alleviating you of the stress of troubleshooting the task on your own.
In order to answer a frequently asked question: “how do I get blood stains out of my fabric?” We scoured the internet along with some good old fashioned reference books and collected the best answers, per fiber type. There were some clear and overarching take away points that transcended fibers. Let’s review these first.
Now you are armed with the basic rules for any fiber when it comes to successfully removing a blood stain. But the question you most likely have is, “Where do I begin? What is the first thing that I do no matter what the fiber content is of my fabric?”
We have a very cool and extremely simple answer. For fresh blood stains, start by blotting the stain. According to the book, ‘Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House’ by Cheryl Mendelson - the first action step to take is to blot up the liquid with a “clean, absorbent white cloth or paper towels or sponges.” This made us think, we have EXACTLY that - only better!
Enter the world’s first use of our Zorb Original fabric as a laundry blotter!
Our Zorb Original absorbs 10 times its weight in less than 2 seconds. It also soaks up 20 times faster than bamboo, cotton, or hemp knits. How perfect is that? If you already have Zorb at your home for other projects that call for extreme absorption, simply cut a small piece off and use it to treat the area. Don’t have any Zorb? Order one of our hand cut 4x4 swatches and keep it in your laundry room for “just such an emergency” (in other words channel your inner Foghorn Leghorn from Looney Tunes - those of you who get that reference and joke - you are welcome.)
Here are two ways you can use the Zorb Original to remove blood stains:
Now you have blotted the fresh blood stain and removed the majority of the liquid as well as the majority of the stain, but there is still some discoloration - more than you feel will come out by laundering with gentle detergent alone. Here is where we treat the fiber type specifically and get a little more science minded.
For most fabrics with a blood stain the first aggressive line of action is to apply an enzyme cleaner. Enzyme cleaners are effective in removing blood stains from fabric because they contain enzymes, which are biological molecules that break down organic matter. Blood contains proteins, and enzymes in the cleaner break down these proteins into smaller molecules that are easily washed away.
Enzyme cleaners work by targeting specific types of stains. For example, protease enzymes break down protein stains such as blood, while amylase enzymes break down starch stains. Enzyme cleaners also have surfactants, which help to loosen and lift the stain from the fabric.
When an enzyme cleaner is applied to a blood stain, the enzymes in the cleaner break down the proteins in the blood into smaller molecules that are easily removed from the fabric. The surfactants in the cleaner help to loosen the stain and lift it from the fabric, making it easier to wash away.
It is important to note that enzyme cleaners may not be effective on all types of stains, and they should be used according to the manufacturer's instructions. Additionally, some enzyme cleaners may not be suitable for use on certain types of fabrics (like PUL), so it is important to check the label before using the product.
Take a look at the breakdown by most common fiber below for the best cleaning treatment.
After the blot and rinse technique you will want to apply an enzyme cleaner. Be sure to saturate the entire stain. Follow the directions on the bottle or wherever you may have found your own DIY recipe. Speaking of which, this sounds like a great DIY enzyme cleaner that we found during our research for this blog.
DIY Enzyme Cleaner Recipe blog by Jennifer L. Betts
*Please note that we have not created and tested this cleaner. Please be sure to check how it interacts with your fabric by using a small amount in an inconspicuous place first before applying to the stain.
Don’t have access to an enzyme cleaner? No problem. For cotton fiber you can also try adding a cup of distilled white vinegar to cold water & soaking the piece for a few hours or even overnight.
After using either technique, launder with gentle detergent & hang to dry.
Depending on the severity of the stain you may have to repeat the process a few times to fully remove the discoloration.
Do the exact same steps as you would with cotton, but for bamboo make sure to let the enzyme cleaner really sit on the stain. Let it sit for about 15 minutes but do not let it completely dry.
Follow by rinsing the area with cold water, then wash in a cold water cycle with a gentle detergent and hang to dry.
The initial steps are the same as with the other fibers mentioned and you can opt to use an enzyme cleaner for this fiber type as well. However, there are two other stain treatment options you can try:
Just like with the cotton and bamboo you will repeat the stain treatment step as many times as you need to get out the entire stain and then follow with a cold wash in the washing machine with gentle detergent and hang to dry.
This is the one that scares people the most because of the fragility of the fabric in most instances. It has a tendency to shrink and we all know how easily and well it can felt with too much abrasive action. For removing blood from this fiber you start with the Zorb blotting technique paired with the cold water rinse. Then to treat the stain you use a common household item and watch it work its magic:
Repeat the salt solution step as many times as you need, trying to keep the moisture/solution designated to the stain only. Do not run the entire garment through the wash after you are satisfied with the stain treatment portion. Instead simply hang to dry.
Worse case scenario, this would be a fiber worthy of a trip to a dry cleaner who knows further secret handshakes to get the stain out without harming the fabric and ruining the garment.
Doing the blot technique with a full cold water flush is the best way to remove the stain from a PUL fabric. After you exhaust this step, move on to using a gentle detergent that is safe for PUL fabric The detergent must also not contain any Fabric softeners, Natural oils, Perfumes, Dyes, UV brighteners, Stain guard ingredients, Enzymes. DO NOT add washing soda, soda ash or soda crystals to the detergent. The use of vinegar and/or baking soda can together or individually cause delamination. Wash the item in cold water and follow the below rinsing suggestion:
Finally, hang the item to dry, but do not hang the fabric in direct sunlight! Exposure to sunlight affects the urethane film. The film will turn yellow and crack over time. When the UV index is high this can happen in as little as 10 hours.
We have a lot of amazing makers in our ever growing community that construct menstrual pads and underwear. Our fabrics are ideal for these applications. However, period blood is different from “regular” blood.
While period blood stains and regular blood stains may look similar, they can be treated differently depending on the fabric and the severity of the stain.
One difference is that period blood stains may contain menstrual fluid, which can have a different texture and consistency compared to other types of blood. This can make it harder to remove the stain, as it may be more likely to seep into the fabric fibers.
Even though the two types of blood stains are different from one another they are treated similarly. The biggest thing to avoid doing when cleaning a period blood stain is to rub it. DO NOT rub the stain to get it out. Rubbing the stain can cause the blood to spread and set deeper into the fabric. This is where the blotting technique we created with Zorb is ideal. A great stain remover to try is a paste made of baking soda and water. Pat the solution into the stain and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
Now that the fear has been removed for eliminating blood stains in a variety of fabrics, what will you be more inclined to make? Have you been longing to break away from commercial menstrual products but intimidated that the upkeep would be horrific? Knowing how easy it is should help you in taking that first step and to further prepare you we have our handy dandy Fabric Finder tool. Take a look at these two Fabric Finder project pages to learn more about constructing your own menstrual pads or menstrual undies.
Cloth Menstrual Pads Fabric Finder
Cloth Menstrual Underwear Fabric Finder
Do you have a fantastic way that you swear by for removing blood from our fabrics? Please share with us so we can add it to a follow up to this blog and further empower our community. Simply place your advice along with your email address in the area below. We want your email so that we can send you a special thank you for taking the time to help the collective.
Have questions? Never hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are happy to help you navigate your fabric journey and creative process.