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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Removing Blood from Colored Cotton

By Dr. Laundry May 11, 2010

Q. What is the best way to get blood stains out of colored cotton tops? I soaked these tops in cold water, then sprayed a stain remover on them, and then washed them in detergent. I did this twice, but the stains are still visible. I did not put the tops in the dryer. I now have them soaking in cold salt water, but I can still see the stains. Do you have any suggestions?

You’ve done a lot of the right things, especially using cool water and not dryer-drying. I suspect the residual stain you mention is from the blood protein, which is much harder to totally remove after it has dried.

Usually I recommend the items be presoaked in cool water (at least 30 to 60 minutes) using a good liquid detergent containing enzymes. The enzymes are used to break down the blood protein, but they aren’t the quickest guys in the formula so thus the need to presoak. If the blood has dried, then they definitely need the extra time.

After the presoak, I would pretreat with a hydrogen peroxide, like our Clorox2® Stain Remover and Color Booster (apply, rub into the stain, wait ~5 minutes), then wash the item in cool or warm water using detergent and Clorox2®.

Finally, check for success after washing, but before drying as an additional treatment of the above steps may be needed.