No Reason to Fear Blood

Martin L. Young Jr. |

CONCORD, N.C. — I have addressed blood stains previously, but the phone calls and e-mails keep coming. There is no reason to fear any stain, especially this protein stain that almost every formulator of chemical tools has given full attention.

Whether a small drop or a stain saturating half the garment, blood must be removed while causing the least disturbance to the fabric and dye. Various methods are available, and failing to fully remove a blood stain should be the rare exception.

Those of you that have followed this column will remember the white linen dress: a gift to a young woman, the automobile accident that breaks her nose, and the blood that pours down the front of a “Dry Clean Only” garment. I was happy that I had some enzyme digester and the confidence to use it.

Large amounts of blood will require hours of spotting at the board. The enzyme digester bath is the perfect blood-removal tool, if the garment will allow immersion in water.

Place warm water in a container large enough to allow the garment to move freely; using an insulated drink cooler dedicated to this purpose is an effective way to proceed.

Use approximately 1 oz. of powder digester for every 2 gal. of warm (120 F) water; water that is too hot will ruin the effects of the digesting enzyme. Agitate the solution to dissolve the powder. Submerge the garment and allow it to soak, checking on its status from time to time, until the blood has been dissolved. An enzyme digester bath takes little effort and produces excellent results.

An enzyme digester can easily be used on smaller stains at the spotting board. It is especially effective to soften or remove “old” blood stains that have turned from red to dark brown. Flush the stain with steam to moisten and heat the area. Apply the enzyme digester to the stain, cover it with a warm, moist towel, then set the garment aside for at least 30 minutes. With time, new blood disappears, and aged blood loosens to enable removal with a protein chemical tool.

Follow standard protein protocol to remove blood stains. Place the stain over the vacuum nose and flush with steam, then pull over the solid part of the board and apply NSD and light mechanical action. Move back to the vacuum nose and flush again with steam, which should loosen the stain to some extent. Place the stain over the solid part and apply a protein chemical tool and light mechanical action, then move back to the vacuum nose and flush with steam.

If any traces remain, move the stain back to the solid part and apply the protein formula, or a stronger version if the dye will allow, and light mechanical action. Stronger protein formulations will usually have a hint of ammonia and should be used with a level of caution. If traces of blood remain, it will be necessary to use spot bleaching.

Bleach is not a dirty word and should not cause you fear. After taking the precaution of testing on an inside seam, place a drop of 3% hydrogen peroxide (which can be purchased at most drug stores or supermarkets) on the last traces of blood. If staining remains after about a minute, heat the area with a light fogging from the steam gun. Flush with steam and evaluate your progress.

If traces of blood remain, place the stain over the solid part of the spotting board. Place a small amount of sodium perborate on top of the stain, then two or three drops of protein formula on top of that to saturate the powder. Fog the sodium perborate with steam so that the powder appears to “melt” through the stain, then place the area over the vacuum nose and flush away any powder than remains. Neutralize the bleach with a few drops of acetic acid and flush with steam.

Blood is not a difficult stain to remove if you proceed step by step from enzyme digester to protein chemical tools to bleach. Follow the protocol and you will find success.

About the author

Martin L. Young Jr.

Industry Consultant and Trainer

Martin L. Young Jr. has been an industry consultant and trainer for 20 years, and a member of various stakeholder groups on environmental issues. He is a past president of the North Carolina Association of Launderers & Cleaners (NCALC). He grew up in his parents’ plant in Concord, N.C., Young Cleaners, which he operates to this day. Contact him by phone at 704-786-3011, or via e-mail at


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