By Amy Hunt
Our guide to how to clean blood out of carpet will ensure you can rescue your favorite carpet or rug, should an accident happen. As with wine stains, it's important to act fast if you want to avoid a permanent mark. But you don't want to make things worse and end up with even more of a mess, which is why it's vital to select the right solution.
Whether you're dealing with a cut finger or an unexpected bloody nose, bloodstains need to be treated with extra care and specific cleaning formulas to get your carpet looking as good as new. The trick is to work from the outside of the stain to contain the mark and be sure to blot away any excess water and cleaning solution after use. And you should always use cold water according to cleaning expert Lyndsey Crombie. "When removing blood, always remember to use cold water as warm or hot water will bind the blood together to make it harder to remove," she told w&h.
Mopping up pesky stains is a necessary part of any house cleaning routine, so while you're here you may want to check out our guides on how to clean toilet stains and how to clean walls to remove stains.
Why is blood such a difficult stain to remove?
Knowing how to get stains out of carpet in general is slightly complex. Many substances are tricky to remove, but blood is particularly stubborn, especially from fabric or carpet. The main reason is that it has a tendency to clot as it dries, hence the importance of acting quickly.
"Blood is hard to get out because when blood clots it becomes thick and gunky, which can be a nightmare to remove if they aren't tended to in good time," Lyndsey Crombie, founder of cleaning blog Queen of Clean told us. As blood clots form, the blood binds itself to your carpet’s fibers, making it tricky to remove without some serious elbow grease. In addition, the iron in blood will oxidize, similar to rusting, and that chemical reaction can also make it harder to remove—as well as causing discoloration.
Know what kind of carpet you have
While you'll want to get your carpet cleaned up as quickly as possible, it's worth a little prep work to make sure you clean the spillage in a way that won't damage the specific type of carpet you have.
Synthetic carpets are made of manmade fibers such as nylon, polyester, or polypropylene (also known as olefin), while natural carpets are often wool.
A quick carpet type test
You can test a strand by cutting it from a hidden corner, holding it with pliers or tweezers, and burning it. If it melts and smells like burning plastic, it's probably synthetic. If it makes an orange flame, turns to ash, and smells like burning hair, it's made of wool. If your carpet's texture makes it too hard to check, you can test a cleaning method on a hidden corner before you attempt to remove the actual stain.
If you're not sure which type of carpet you have, Parish Support has a handy guide to carpet fiber characteristics.
Common carpet types are:
- Synthetic carpets—bleach and ammonia are generally ok to use on synthetic materials, but it's always important to check the care label. Nylon is particularly resistant to solutions as fibres are so tightly packed in.
- Wool carpets—bleach-based and ammonia-based solutions should be avoided here, as they have the potential to destroy the fibres and create a patch or lighter mark on the carpet.
Remember to always check your carpet, rug or throw's care label to ensure you use a safe method of cleaning that won't damage the material.
How to clean blood out of a carpet—the basics
Keep these essential things in mind as you clean bloodstains:
- Always work from the outside of a stain towards the middle to avoid making it larger.
- If in doubt, test cleaners on a hidden area to make sure they won't damage your carpet.
- Never use hot water. It will set the stain more firmly, especially a bloodstain.
- Keep pets and young children at a safe distance while you're cleaning.
- Never combine bleach with any acid, such as vinegar or ammonia, since this can create a poisonous, toxic gas. For that matter, you should never use multiple cleaners together as they can react in unexpected and unpleasant ways.
Five ways to clean blood from your carpet
These easy cleaning methods use products you likely already have around the house. If not, you can pick up anything from this list at your local grocery store.
1. Dab on an enzyme-based cleaner
Enzyme-based cleaners are a common choice for both commercial companies and in the home—and are the solutions you may have on hand to clean up pet accidents. As well as pet stains and smells, these types of cleaners work well on other organic compounds, such as blood.
After checking the label to make sure it's safe for your type of carpet, follow the package directions to remove the bloodstain, remembering to work from the outside in, and blot excess product and water away. "If the stain is particularly stubborn, leave for approximately 30 minutes and then blot dry using a white cloth," says Lyndsey Crombie.
2. Blot with cold water
Sometimes, just plain water can do the trick for a small blood accident.
To get blood out of carpet with cold water you need to:
- Pat a little cold water into the stain with a clean cloth or sponge, then blot it with paper towels to absorb the excess.
- Repeat as many times as needed until the stain is gone.
3. Mix vinegar and water
Good old vinegar and water can be an effective, natural approach. Vinegar is a common household cleaning hero—in fact, you can clean most surfaces in your home with it. Read up on how to use it in your home in our guides to how to clean brass, how to clean aluminum, and how to clean a toilet.
How to clean blood out of a carpet with vinegar and water:
- Gently dab the stain with some vinegar and blot to remove it.
- Repeat this until the stain is gone, then dab with clean, cool water to remove the remaining vinegar.
4. Dab on meat tenderizer powder
Meat tenderizer powders help break down the proteins in meat, but they can also clean up dried blood from carpets. Just be sure to use an unflavored meat tenderizer to avoid any bizarre smells!
How to clean blood out of carpet with meat tenderizer:
- Make a paste of three teaspoons of meat tenderizer and one teaspoon of water.
- Spread the paste over the stain and let it sit for 30 minutes or so, until it's dry.
- Once dry, vacuum it up. Add a little cold water and blot to remove any residue.
5. Try an ammonia solution
A stain remover standby, ammonia can help with cleaning blood, too. Just be careful of its strong fumes, and never use it on wool carpets or rugs as it can ruin them.
How to clean blood out of carpet with ammonia:
- Mix a tablespoon of ammonia into a cup of water.
- Dab enough of the mixture onto the bloodstain with a paper towel to moisten the stain but not flow all the way through.
- Blot with a clean paper towel and continue alternating between dabbing and blotting until the stain is gone.
Amy Hunt is Life Channel Editor at womanandhome.com, having been with the brand since 2015. She began as the magazine's features assistant before moving over to digital as a News and Features Writer, before becoming Senior Writer, and now a Channel Editor. She has worked on either women's lifestyle websites previously too—including Woman's Weekly, Goodto.com, Woman, and Woman's Own. In 2019, Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards, for her work on womanandhome.com. She is passionate about everything from books, to homes, to food and the latest news on the royal family. When she isn't editing or updating articles on cleaning, homewares, the newest home gadgets, or the latest books releases for the website, she's busy burying her nose in a gripping thriller, practising yoga, or buying new homeware of her own.
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