How do I remove set blood stains?

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Hi Home-Ec 101

Do you have any ideas for getting rid of set blood stains? What about blood stains that the dyer has set?

I appreciate all the great info you share, even though I am an experienced homemaker. I’m always open to new tips, shortcuts, cleaning ideas, and new recipes!

This one has me stumped, though. My husband did “just a little” yardwork wearing his favorite pair of tan cargo pants. He somehow cut himself and wiped the blood on the back of his pants leg. Of course, I didn’t see the blood stain until AFTER I had washed and dried the pants. I tried soaking the stain OxiClean and washing again (a couple of times), but the stain is still there. I don’t want to ruin the pants, so I did not use bleach, but is there any substance I can try to remove the blood stain?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
Still Seeing Red in Raleigh

I’ve got somewhat good news. It’s sometimes, not always, possible to remove dried or set blood stains from many fabrics with ammonia. It’s not going to work every time, but with ammonia running at less than a quarter an ounce (In this economy, I know?!), it’s absolutely worth a shot to save those pants.

How to remove dried or set blood stains with ammonia

Items you will need:

  • a small bowl
  • water
  • a toothbrush (that you won’t use on your teeth ever again)
  • ammonia
  • an old towel
  • a workspace in a well-ventilated area
  • your favorite detergent that contains enzymes (most name brands now do, homemade versions of detergent do not)

Pour some water and ammonia into the bowl in a 50:50 ratio. This means half water and half ammonia. This doesn’t have to be measured perfectly. You can just estimate. In general, when working with a stain like this, you want to work from the wrong side of the fabric. Turn the material inside out and place the old towel inside the pant leg so that it is under the stain. Set the pants on your workspace.

Dip the toothbrush into the ammonia and water. Using the toothbrush, dipping often, working from the center of the set blood stain outward, gently add your water solution to the stain and press it into the fabric, gently moving the toothbrush without scrubbing more like a wiggle. The goal of moving the toothbrush is to help the liquid penetrate the fibers, not tear or shred the fibers. You aren’t scrubbing. You are pressing with a gentle movement.

Take your pants and turn them right side out. Is the blood stain still visible? Put the towel back inside the pant leg and work from this side.

Turn the pants back inside out and run cool water through the stain to flush your ammonia solution out of the stain.

The stain should be gone or very nearly gone. You can repeat, but do remember that set blood stains are often permanent stains. As one last chance, you can apply a stain remover directly to both sides of the stain before its final trip through the wash. There is a chance that your work with the toothbrush and ammonia has exposed new parts of the stain that hasn’t been exposed to any of your previous stain removal attempts. With luck, this can do the trick.

Then, after the pants have gone through the wash, if the blood stain is still there, take a deep breath and remember that these are now his designated yard work and handyman pants. They will see worse days, and that’s ok, too.

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3 thoughts on “How do I remove set blood stains?”

  1. I’m sorry they gave you such bad advice on this one. But every woman should know this since it’s a part of our lives. It’s cheap, quick and has never failed me.


    It’s less than a dollar at Walmart for a jumbo size bottle. If you have multiple teenage girls or women in the house, I’d suggest at least 4 bottles on hand to go with it a couple bags of Dove Chocolate.

    Hold the item over a sink or in the tub, pour the peroxide on to the blood stain. Let it do it’s bubble action work. Rinse in cold water and repeat till the blood stain is gone.. It’s never failed me and I’ve never had any issues with bleach like spots. Once my very young pre-teenage daughter had an issue and was embarrassed to tell me so I found the item hidden when I was looking for dirty clothes under the kids beds. In this one case, since the stain was a month old or more, I did my normal routine but I did use a toothbrush since they were her favorite shorts. Sometimes the set in stains will end up as a faint yellowish stain. Then I do the oxyclean or bleach the item. If it’s been way to long as suggested above that clothing item just gets used as play or work clothes or those underwear as when it’s time for Aunt Flo to visit.
    Hope this helps everyone.

    • The writer had already used peroxide/hydrogen bleach, which is Oxiclean. This is the step after that has not worked and the garment in question has already been set.

      Peroxide is wonderful for fresh and sometimes dry, but not always set bloodstains. We do appreciate your input, though

    • This is very helpful, thank you! I just tried hydrogen peroxide on an old stain on a sheet that had been washed and dried in dryer before we saw the stain. The sheet was really good quality and I was bothered by the stain. So I was searching on how to remove this and found your tip and it worked.


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