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Conservation Tip No. 3: Removing blood from paper documents

Using cotton bud to repair document

A recent incident here at State Records has prompted me to write about how to remove blood from paper documents. Metal fasteners can be dangerous, and even a sheet of paper can produce a nasty wound. If you find yourself bleeding all over your precious documents or family heirlooms, do not despair, speedy action will probably result in little or no permanent damage occurring.

Instructions

• Blood is best removed when it is still wet and fresh. If possible do not allow it to dry, and certainly do not allow it to set to the brown colouration that indicates old blood, as it then becomes very difficult to remove.

• Never use warm or hot water on blood stains as it will set them. This applies as much to fabrics as it does to paper – so it’s a good one to remember if you bleed on your clothing too.

• Use a clean cotton bud and some clean cold water and gently dab the blood stain enough to moisten and dilute it slightly. Use a dry cotton bud to roll over the surface and ‘mop’ up the blood. Do not allow the paper to become too wet as it will distort.

Ice can be useful for fabrics stained with blood – the extra cold water helps to solubilise the stain.