How to Remove Blood From Leather
Blood stained leather is an easy mistake to make. Here at the milk farm, we get mail all the time about favorite leather jerkins drenched with peasant juice after a messy decapitation, or shiny motorcycle jackets splashed with the blood of the innocent whilst indulging in a late midnight snack. Frankly, we’re kind of terrified people would neglect their leather like this, but I suppose we should keep perspective. They could have been wearing suede.
If you were wearing suede, my condolences. We’ll get to you in a sec. So, how to remove blood from leather?
Running Out of Time
Ideally, you’ll want to remove blood from leather before the stain dries. Dab that red mana with a clean cloth until you have removed as much as you can. Don’t wipe. Wiping pushes that blood further into your leather’s pores, creating a bigger stain and a bigger headache. Dab-dab your way through.
After you remove blood from leather as much as you can and get it dry, you’ll want to give that hide a leather cleaner (not commercial variety, by the way – go with recipes made for leather: “Common Leather Care Mistakes”), such as Chamberlain’s Straight Cleaner no. 2. Note that this should be tested on your leather before you use it. Some leather will react poorly with conventional leather recipes, such as suede, so best be safe than sorry. Gently rub the cleaner in a discreet area of your leather with a clean, white cloth, and let it dry. Look for color rub off on the cloth, discoloration in the leather, or any other effects. If you don’t see anything your leather cleaner is safe to use. Apply it to the blood stain, wipe off any excess fluid, and let the leather dry in a cool, indoors location away from sunlight and direct heat.
Soft and Tender
For suede people (I told you we’d get back to you!), you’re in a bit of a trickier situation. Blood stains are not guaranteed to come off of any type of leather, and suede can be among the most difficult to restore. Nevertheless, there are a few tricks to try to remove blood from leather. As with any leather, you’ll have a better chance of getting blood out while it’s fresh. If it’s had ample time to dry, there’s a good chance the blood is there to stay, unless you get professional help. Like before, soak up as much blood as you can. After that, you can brush it with a soft bristle brush to loosen up the fibers a bit, and then wipe it with a clean, slightly damp cloth. If the stain proves stubborn, you might try using the suds from a mixture of mild soap and water for extra potency (“Should I Use Mild Soap on Leather?”). Be cautious with this, and don’t overdo it – the less wet, the better. Lastly, you could also try sprinkling corn starch over the stain, and leaving it overnight. Corn starch has special properties that allow it to absorb stains, and may help you out. Brush it off afterwards with a soft bristle brush.
The same corn starch method can also be used on traditional leather. Yet if all this fails, you’ve got one last ace up your sleeve. It’s a real wild card too: meat tenderizer.
Do it Nice and Slow
I’m not talking about the mallet. Put that away now. I’m talking about the (seasonless) powder stuff. That fairy dust enzymatically breaks down the proteins inside blood like our own enzymes help us digest food. Normally, meat tenderizer is used to soften tough meat. In our case, it can be pretty handy to loosen up stale blood. Careful though, as this same tenderizer may also weaken your leather, so it’s best used as a last resort. Mix a small amount of meat tenderizer powder together with cold water to make a paste, and gently rub it on to the bloodied spot. Let it sit for about an hour, and then brush off the excess paste with a soft cloth or bristle brush. Absorb as much of the rest as you can with a clean, slightly damp cloth, and cloth dry before letting it rest in the familiar indoors location.
The last step of all these methods (except for suede) is to condition your leather. Leather conditioner, Chamberlain’s Leather Care Liniment no. 1, for example, will restore the lubricants lost while using a leather cleaner, strengthen the protein bonds that may have been affected by your meat tenderizer solution, and help your leather resist future stains. As always, test first using the same method you used for the leather cleaner, and then gently massage it in using circular motions. Afterwards, let it dry for an hour, and then buff the rest off. Hopefully your blood stain will be gone by this time.
As I said before, blood stains are pretty resilient, so there’s no guarantee any of these methods will work immediately, or even at all. It’s best to give your leather repeated treatments, and over time, the stain should begin to fade. Be careful not to over-clean or condition your leather, as it can stress it. There’s a delicate treatment balance that varies between leathers, and the best way to know for sure is to get to know the leather you are working with. If it begins to get mushy, you’re giving it too much leather conditioner. Likewise, if it starts getting dry, you’re not giving it enough. Keep tabs, and keep trying. You’ll get there.
Peace out, leathermancers!
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