How to Clean Up Blood Through A 10-Step Procedure
There are few certainties in life, but most of us can agree on one universal inevitability: accidents happen. Whether at home or work, you may need to manage a situation that requires delicate and careful attention–including the cleaning up of bodily fluids and blood. One of the most potentially hazardous substances to clean up is blood.
Why is Blood Considered a Biohazard?
Blood can expose you to a number of bloodborne pathogens: HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, MRSA, and other transmittable diseases.
So, what should you do?
Each situation is different. The cause and extent of the blood spill may necessitate contacting a biohazard cleanup company like Aftermath. Our general rule of thumb is that a professional blood cleanup crew is needed to effectively disinfect and clean blood spills of a diameter greater than a small plate. If blood is spilled onto a carpet or other porous material, such as wood, cloth, or certain plastics, it is a misconception that you can genuinely disinfect the area of contamination. You may be able to clean it so it is no longer visible, but porous materials cannot be fully disinfected because of a layer of biofilm, which is resistant to biocides. Therefore, porous items should be disposed of — attempting to disinfect them could compromise the safety of you and the cleaning equipment. However, if you have a small blood spill on a hard surface, here’s what you need to know and can do.
Equipment Needed to Clean Up Blood Spills
If you’re an owner or employee of a business, it’s imperative that you follow OSHA regulations with regard to cleaning up biohazardous substances such as blood and other bodily fluids. There are mandated conditions that must be met, such as employee bloodborne pathogen training. Before you begin cleaning, here are some materials you’ll need to manage minor blood spillage:
- registered disinfectant product with a broad spectrum kill claim
- disposable gloves
- (optional) disposable gown
- disposable cloth towels
- biohazard bags
- biohazard labels
- leak-proof sharps containers
- brush and dustpan or tongs/forceps
- disinfectant wipes
Blood Spill Procedure: 10 Steps to Clean Up Blood on a Hard Surface
- Equip. Disposable gloves are essential. You want to check the type of disposable gloves to ensure that they are industrial grade and suitable for blood cleanup. You should also consider a protective gown or suit and eyewear in case of splashing. Make sure the protective wear fits snugly and does not have any holes or other concerns of being compromised.
- Remove. Use a brush and dustpan or tongs/forceps to remove broken glass or other pointed shards that could break through your protective wear. Place each piece into a leak-proof sharps container. Under no circumstances should you ever remove these objects by hand.
- Soak. Cover the spill in durable cloth towels to soak up as much blood as possible. The registered disinfectant product with a broad spectrum kill claim will not properly disinfect if the surface is still covered in wet blood. Discard the used towels into a clearly marked biohazard bag.
- Apply disinfectant. First, make sure there is proper ventilation if the spill isn’t in an open room. Follow the directions on the registered disinfectant product with a broad spectrum kill claim – make sure that you are applying the disinfectant generously onto the area of the spill and let the disinfectant soak for the appropriate cure time (listed in the directions). Once this time has elapsed, you should work from the outside toward the center while scrubbing the area with durable cloth towels. Place all used towels in the biohazard bag.
- Soak again. Now, dampen the clean cloth towels with more disinfect and treat the area of the blood spill once more. Discard these towels in a biohazard bag as well. Allow the area to dry.
- Dispose. Carefully dispose of your personal protective equipment into a biohazard bag: gloves, gown, and glasses. Be sure that other surfaces are not contaminated during this process. Contact your local health department for proper disposal.
- Decontaminate. Use the registered disinfectant with a broad spectrum kill claim to soak any reusable equipment, such as dustpans, buckets, tongs, et cetera. Remember to follow the directions and leave the disinfectant on for the appropriate cure time before cleaning it off.
- Check. Do a final check of your body for any contamination. Whether blood managed to splash onto your shirt or the back of your elbow, it’s important to recognize if you’ve been exposed. It is strongly recommended that you have someone assist you with this step of the procedure.
- Wash Hands. Thoroughly wash your hands and arms with warm water and disinfectant soap. After a vigorous washing, you may even want to consider using disinfectant wipes as a secondary measure.
- Report. Your company may require that you fill out an incident report. Make sure you do this immediately following any cleanup.
How Do I Clean Blood Out of A Mattress or Other Porous Material?
Did the blood spill happen at home? Whether it’s on carpeting, upholstered furniture, rugs, pillows, or towels, there are some ways to thoroughly clean the visible blood stains without damaging the affected material.
Keep in mind: fabric, carpeting, and other porous cannot be disinfected. Due to their porous nature, there is always a lingering risk of bloodborne pathogens or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) after a simple cleaning. Instead, these items should be removed and disposed of entirely. If you really want to clean them, we suggest the following.
- Act quickly. The potential for staining increases with each passing second as blood dries. The sooner you catch it, the better the chances of restoring the fabric. So as soon as possible, soak the blood in cold water and a mild detergent.
- Any residual staining may be removed by blotting 3% hydrogen peroxide.
- If possible, launder the fabric by machine-washing with an enzyme-based detergent.
- Avoid heat. Do NOT put the item in the dryer or heat it with a hair dryer until you are sure the stain has been completely removed. Heat will set the stain and make it even more difficult, if not impossible, to remove.
This method works for a number of bodily fluids in addition to blood — semen, vaginal discharge, menstrual blood, fecal matter, urine and sweat.
You can help ensure the safety of those you work with by implementing and communicating these blood spill procedures. If you have a blood spill beyond your capacity to clean or is the result of a crime, death, or accident, it’s important that you contact a biohazard cleanup company to conduct a thorough cleansing of the area.