Ouch! Removing Blood Stains with the Spit Trick

May 19, 2015

Hey there! It’s Tips and Tutorials Tuesday! And I’ve got a good little tip for you today…..

I Run with Scissors

Quilting is clearly THE MOST DANGEROUS hobby on the planet. And we quilters are a fearless bunch.

We juggle blades, pins and needles every day like it’s nothing.  Just as there are 50 ways to leave your lover, there are at least 50 ways to injure yourself while quilting.

Blood???  Tsk.  Tsk.  What’s a little blood?

Happens all the time in our chosen field. We’re not wusses.  We just wipe it off, slap on a bandage and move on.  Tetanus shot?  We don’t need no stinkin’ tetanus shot.  We’re QUILTERS.


What happens when you get a tiny drop of scarlet blood on that pristine white quilt top laying on your sewing table? Gasp. The very thought of it strikes fear in my heart, especially given that I frequently quilt for others. In fact, I’m about to custom quilt a lovely white quilt top with the MOST GORGEOUS paper pieced stars by Rachael, a talented quilter who recently took Lee Heinrich’s negative space class at Quiltcon. Needless to say, there’s a lot of beautiful white space that’s about to be quilted to death over here. And it makes me shudder to think of anything, much less blood, marring the perfection of this quilt top.

Paper Pieced Star 2 by Rachael

Not long ago, in our Late Night Quilter’s group on Facebook, there was a conversation about what to do if you ever get blood on your quilt.  The word on the street is that your own spit does the trick.

Have you heard this too??  After reading it on Facebook , I remember feeling doubtful (I know, how dare I question the collective intelligence of over 2500 quilters!?!)  Then this month Jeni Baker wrote the same tip in the latest issue of Love Patchwork and Quilting, one of my favorite magazines. I trust Jeni Baker immensely.  But she didn’t actually cut herself to prove that the spit test worked!! I was heartbroken.

I’ve actually been dying to try out this tip for awhile now.  But cutting myself on purpose to test this myth did seem a bit extreme (I couldn’t really blame Jeni or the editors for not doing it).  Although, there really is no better way to prove my undying dedication as a quilt blogger, is there?

But lucky me!  As I stupidly tried to rub some gunk off my scissors yesterday, I sliced my finger.  Turns out those Ginghers really are sharp.

My first thought?

Ack!  Quick!  Bleed on something important to see if the spit trick works!

I quickly calmed my excitement and grabbed some muslin nearby.

Warning!  If you are squeamish at the sight of blood, HALT now.  Do not look!

(But if you’re curious, go right ahead).

Blood Stain

My family has always called me a bleeding heart…. ba dump bump.


Blood Stain after the spit test

Blue Line Eraser used on the left.        Saliva used on the right


As you can see from the photo on the right, the spit test worked quite well.  There is a faint shadow where the bood was, but all in all, I’d call it a great success.  Blue Line Eraser, on the other hand, a product that I love and use for removing stubborn blue quilting guide-lines, did not work so well.

I know, spit is gross.  But, priorities people. Blood on a quilt is a dire emergency.  If it was blood on your quilt, you’d want to spit on it to save it; you’d probably even let someone else spit on it to save it. It’s like asking the guy next to you at the beach to pee on you to soothe a jellyfish sting.  Some things just lose their grossness in a true emergency.

I hope this public service announcement has been helpful.  And that you don’t hate me too much for making you read about blood and spit first thing in the morning.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why spit works so well…. The Google says that saliva is full of enzymes that break down the protein in blood. Who knew….

Now, Bloggers Unite! Link up your tips and tutorials and show us how brilliant you are.

And, if you’ve made it this far reading my science experiment, please stick around and check out what other goodies the blogosphere has to offer you this week.



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  • Reply Lyndalee May 19, 2015 at 12:26 am

    Peroxide also removes blood. My husband had a bad cut on his head. He bled all over his PJ’s. I took him to the emergency room. Hours later at home. I rinsed his PJ’s in Peroxide. Blood dissolved.

  • Reply Julie Stocker May 19, 2015 at 6:04 am

    OMG! You are hysterical! Yes, Spit is the wonderful stuff that does it, but there is another pretty good one if you miss it initially. Dried blood is harder that fresh to remove. It’s called Kiss-Off Stain Remover, and it was my miracle-working-go-to stick when I had 5 young kids. I mean, I needed those hand-me-downs to last! It takes out all the yucky stuff you can throw at it, and doesn’t smell funny, leave a greasy spot, etc. While I have not had to use it on a quilt, per se, I would not hesitate to.

    Your Tips and Tutorials always leave me smiling. It’s like reading “Horrible Histories” when the kids were little. You think it’s benign, and then….

    Julie @ PInk Doxies

  • Reply Summer May 19, 2015 at 6:39 am

    Love that you experimented! Science is awesome. I had someone tell me that the Frixion pens were okay to use down South, but not up North if the quilt was going to get cold again. What? So, being a scientist, I immediately grabbed my pen and a scrap of white-on-white fabric, marked an “X”, ironed it away, then stuck it in the freezer. Five minutes later I took the scrap out of the freezer, and the “X” could be seen, faintly. The amazing disappearing-reappearing ink! I’ll stick to air-erasable pens from now on, even though I’m in Houston. You never know!

    • Stephanie Palmer
      Reply Stephanie Palmer May 20, 2015 at 11:26 pm

      Yes, those sneaky frixion pens. I only use them on the backside of things where I don’t care if the lines reappear…

  • Reply Jan O May 19, 2015 at 8:21 am

    Yes, I’ve used the spit trick, but for a smaller bloodstain, on white Kona. The accident occurred when a pin stabbed me during the quilting. That quilt was one of the ones in my book and I knew it would be photographed in detail. Due to tight deadlines, I didn’t have time to remake the quilt. The spit trick worked.

    • Stephanie Palmer
      Reply Stephanie Palmer May 20, 2015 at 11:25 pm

      That’s a great point about needing to use the spit trick when you really can’t risk washing the whole quilt. A photo shoot for a book is exactly that kind of situation!

  • Reply kittywilkin May 19, 2015 at 8:27 am

    This makes me laugh so hard! You are AWESOME! Only a truly dedicated quilter like yourself would cut herself and then have the immediate thought, “YES! I can finally put this rumor to the test! Quick, quick, let me bleed on some fabric!!” 🙂 I love it! and VERY good to know.

  • Reply quiltingjetgirl May 19, 2015 at 8:46 am

    I have definitely used spit quite a bit, but a bit of cold water quickly applied also works wonders. 🙂

  • Reply Patti May 19, 2015 at 9:45 am

    I thought I’d add my 2 cents, saline solution also works. You know, the stuff you rinse your contacts in? Plus it’s a little more sanitary than spit! LOL

    • Stephanie Palmer
      Reply Stephanie Palmer May 20, 2015 at 11:24 pm

      That’s so amazing! I bet my clients would appreciate the sanitary choice if this situation were ever to actually arise.

  • Reply Catherine S. May 19, 2015 at 11:39 am

    I only recently learned that your common bottle of hydrogen peroxide works even better than your saliva test. all these years I had been taking a wad of thread, filling it with saliva and dabbing on the blood spots. worked pretty well, I must say, the wad of thread acts as a sponge when saliva covered. Now I use a cotton ball lightly moistened with hydrogen peroxide and dab. works great. I have only used it twice so far as I commonly stab myself with the long thin pins I love, but I will use it again! Put a washcloth or folded paper towel UNDER the blood spot, and use cotton ball or another wad of real cotton fabric for your peroxide. works great!

    • Stephanie Palmer
      Reply Stephanie Palmer May 20, 2015 at 11:23 pm

      You make such a good point, Catherine. I should have definitely mentioned to put a washcloth or something under the bloodspot, regardless of which method you use. Very important! Now, if I can just get brave enough to pour peroxide onto a quilt top!

  • Reply Terri Ann May 19, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    “in a true emergency” omg you had me in stitches on that one! (haha, get it?!?!?!)

    Might be worth considering rinsing your mouth a couple times with water before spitting on your quilt. I’m a snacker so I’d end up spitting goldfish laced saliva onto the quilt causing more harm than good unless I did a good rinse first!

  • Reply Little Black Cat Quilting May 19, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    I never thought about using spit to remove a bloodstain! Blood on clothing is a bit common at my job (I work in a vet clinic), so I’ve always been told to use peroxide. It works really well on scrubs and jeans, not sure about a quilt though. Thanks for the tip!

  • Reply Paula Budinger May 19, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    As a mother I know that God equipped women with everything we need to care for others, so spit makes sense, always being “on hand”. Now science seems to be catching up. Wonder when they will prove that kisses heal owies best!

  • Reply creaturecomfortquilts May 21, 2015 at 6:56 am

    I worked for years in dialysis, so we dealt with blood a lot. People who worked at the unit all owned industrial quantities of peroxide to clean spills on clothes or blankets. Agree with you and Catherine S. on having something behind to wick away the residue. Great public service announcement! I assume the saliva has enzymes that break down the RBC’s just like the peroxide, though peroxide is likely stronger.

  • Reply Rachel@Quiltineering May 22, 2015 at 7:20 am

    hahaha – I love this post, Stephanie! Thats an excellent trick to know even though I hope I never have to use it! Thanks 🙂

  • Reply Virginia June 11, 2015 at 12:08 am

    I bled on a baby quilt I had just finished and of course it was on a pure white section I used a ottos ball with peroxide on it and it completely took the blood out and didn’t mess up the fabric, I wish I had known about the spit would have tried that first.

  • Reply Virginia June 11, 2015 at 12:09 am

    I used a cotton ball, stupid computer always want to make corrections.

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