The One Stain You Should Never, Ever, Ever Wash in Hot Water

published May 10, 2023
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young girl hugging her mother while helping her with the laundry at home
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With kids, messes happen — whether it’s juice, marker, vomit, or who-knows-what. When it comes to cleaning the toughest kid stains, there’s one you should avoid washing in warm water at all costs. The culprit? Blood.

Blood is a complex stain that doesn’t always come out the first time. Tide Scientist and fabric care specialist Darenton Randall notes that because blood stains contain proteins, cellular matter, sugar, and fat, they’re highly resilient and stubborn, requiring specialized laundry treatment.

The secret to getting them out the first time lies in the temperature of the water. Blood stains should always be washed in cold water. Yes, check the care label on a garment for specific cleaning instructions, but when it comes to blood stains, “Warm or hot water can cause the proteins in the blood to ‘cook,’ setting the stain deeper into the fabric, making it even more difficult to remove,” Randall notes. Washing blood stains in cold water helps prevent shrinking and fading in clothes and fabrics and prevents the proteins in the blood from setting the stain. Randall suggests using a high-quality detergent specifically designed to remove tough stains, like Tide Ultra OXI Power Pods + Odor Eliminators.

Another important tip he shared for removing blood stains is to act fast, ideally while the blood is still fresh. “This is because the hemoglobin in the blood begins to clot when exposed to air and can cling tightly to fibers, too,” Randall said.

How to Remove Blood Stains

Even if the stain has dried, Randall and the Tide team shared their best tips to completely remove blood stains from your favorite fabrics or garments.

  • Step 1: Remove any excess blood and rinse the garment with cold water.
  • Step 2: Soak the garment in a solution of liquid detergent and cold water for up to 30 minutes, weighing the item with a towel to keep it totally submerged.
  • Step 3: Without rinsing off the detergent, use cold water to wash the garment in the washing machine as you normally would with the stain-fighting laundry detergent of your choice. Feel free to include other items in the load.
  • Step 4: Remove the clothes immediately after the load finishes.

Note: Do not machine-dry the fabric until the stain has been completely removed because the heat from the dryer will set the stain. The way the stain looks going into the dryer is the same way it will look coming out, so make sure to check for complete stain removal prior to drying!

More Laundry Tips from Cubby

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