With so many quick-fix advice videos on YouTube, and articles claiming to help us achieve incredible cleaning results in only a few minutes, it’s not surprising that we often turn to DIY instead of the experts. But when it comes to cleaning blood stains, a fast solution doesn’t exist. Not only can there be serious health implications when removing blood stains, there are additional legal and emotional after-effects.
Some things in life demand extra care, and blood stains are one of them. Don’t be tempted to use at-home cleaning chemicals and tools to get the job done. Below, we list just a few of the reasons why a professional cleanup is the safer, longer-lasting option.
Health Hazards of Blood Stain Removal
Blood is a contamination source, meaning that it can host infectious organisms that are passed to people who come into contact with it. This could be either direct contact (you physically touch the blood) or indirect contact (toxins from the blood become airborne and you breathe them in).
When cleaning blood stains, if you accidentally cut yourself or already have an existing wound, you are more vulnerable to transmission. If your mucous membrane or broken skin touches or comes close to contaminated blood, you are at higher risk of catching viruses or bacteria from it.
The possibility of becoming ill or contracting a disease via blood or human tissue is why healthcare workers and professional cleaning personnel wear protective equipment when managing a scene with biohazards. It’s also why they have designated waste containers to dispose of biohazards. If you throw blood-stained items in the trash, you could expose the broader population to any illnesses or diseases carried in the blood pathogens.
Can Blood Stains Transmit Disease?
Blood stains are problematic because the person whose blood it is may not have known that they had a particular disease. In the United States alone, it’s estimated that as many as 2.2 million people have hepatitis B. And a study in the Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology Journal suggests that 90 percent of people living with hepatitis B are unaware of their infection.
Hepatitis C is also one of the most common chronic bloodborne infections in the United States, while approximately 1.2 million Americans have HIV—also easily transmittable via contact with blood. Other transmittable blood viruses include:
- the Zika virus
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
These are all very serious conditions, and a DIY cleanup is not worth possibly contracting them.
Hazardous Waste Regulations
Beyond dangers to your health, there are legal factors to consider before carrying out a DIY blood stain clean. Firstly, it is illegal to dispose of biohazard material in the trash, and doing so can result in fines (ranging from $200,000 to $20 million) and potentially a prison sentence in some cases.
Even professionals who dispose of biohazardous waste have to follow strict rules. Containers with biohazard materials have to be immediately sealed to prevent spills during transport and storage. They must be labeled in a specific way too. Reusable containers cannot be opened, emptied, or manually cleaned. Additionally, all personnel handling the containers must have prior relevant training.
Each state has different laws around correctly getting rid of medical waste. Your state environmental protection agency and state health agency can provide more information according to your location.
Risks of not using professional help
A DIY cleanup may seem faster than calling professionals to help, but that’s because it isn’t as thorough. Blood is a difficult substance to remove from materials and if it isn’t completely treated, the stain it leaves will become more troublesome to remove.
Likewise, blood is highly viscous and can seep below carpets into the floorboards. If blood in these areas isn’t properly cleaned, over time, it will start to smell and can form additional bacteria that poses a danger to your health.
The majority of the tools in everyday homes can’t fully remove blood stains either. Steam vacuums only disintegrate the outer layer, and chemicals like bleach can sometimes just mask the stain rather than actually remove it. All in all, DIY will be a more time consuming and more expensive decision in the long-term.
An often underestimated element of cleaning blood stains is the emotional toil it can take on a person. Common physical reactions to blood include feeling nauseous, dizzy, sweaty, experiencing a drop in heart rate, and fainting. However, emotional reactions aren’t always instantaneous. The sight of blood can trigger other trauma in a person, it can prompt feelings of overwhelming sadness and grief, and the act of cleaning blood can stay with you for the rest of your life.
The likelihood is, if you’re in a scenario where you’re considering cleaning blood, you’ve already experienced a stressful event. Taking it upon yourself to deal with the blood and deeper implications of the scene at such a vulnerable time is not a wise decision for your physical nor mental wellbeing.
In such delicate circumstances, we recommend contacting professionals to clean and decontaminate blood stains. Not only will you protect your and others’ health, you can avoid legal complications and be assured that when you return to the space, it is safe once again.