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Cleaning blood spills can be tricky because they are considered a biohazard. While the transfer of deadly diseases carried by blood depends highly on the situation, it’s still important that the blood is cleaned with great care to avoid any health complications.

The internet is a treasure-trove of information on cleaning up blood spills; unfortunately, not all of it is accurate. Here are some myths surrounding the cleaning up of blood:

  • You don’t have to be extra careful when you are cleaning the blood spill of a family member — It doesn’t matter whose blood you’re cleaning, you should always protect yourself against the biological matter in the blood. While you may feel more comfortable cleaning the blood of your family members, that doesn’t mean their blood is safe. Even if your family members say they don’t have a disease that can be transferred through bodily fluids, they may not know that they’ve contracted a disease. You should always wear protective gear when cleaning up another person’s blood, while also carefully disposing of the supplies you use to clean.
  • Cleaning up and sanitizing are the same thing — People often use the words cleaning and sanitizing interchangeably. However, the EPA defines them as different tasks. The EPA defines cleaning as physically removing debris from the area by scrubbing, washing and rinsing, whereas sanitizing involves using a product that will kill 99.9 percent of the germs listed on the cleaner’s label. When you clean up blood, you are removing the blood from the surface. However, that doesn’t mean that all pathogens and other microorganisms are also taken care of. Sanitizing a surface means you use a disinfectant cleaner to kill any biological matter that may be left on the surface.
  • Bleach is the best way to sanitize a blood spill — If you watch a lot of crime shows, you might think that criminals like to use bleach to clean up a crime scene. While bleach is considered to be one of the best ways to sanitize, it’s very corrosive. Used alone, it can cause breathing issues, as well as irritation to your eyes and skin. When combined with other types of cleaners, it can be hazardous to your health. It can also destroy certain materials, like carpet and some types of upholstery. If bleach is the only cleaner you have on hand, use a diluted version of it. A mixture of nine parts water and one part bleach will sanitize the area while being less at risk of causing health issues. Additionally, wearing protective eye gear and gloves can help eliminate irritation to your skin and eyes.
  • Bleach is the only way to thoroughly sanitize — There are many types of sanitizers available on the market that you can use instead of bleach. For cleaning things like clothing or carpets, there are even detergents that can do the job. If you are environmentally conscious or want to use safer options, you can look at more natural sanitizers like vinegar and baking soda. Hydrogen peroxide can also be useful for sanitizing if diluted.
  • Cleaning blood in your home is your responsibility — If a homicide, accident, or suicide happens in your home, you don’t have to clean the mess up yourself. Some cleaners are willing to do the job for you following a traumatic event.

While you may be used to cleaning up any messes that occur in your home, if you doubt your ability to clean up a blood spill, don’t hesitate to call in a professional. Blood spills are in a class of their own, and it’s essential that they are handled properly.