How to Get Blood Out of Sheets

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Worried that you’ve ruined your bedding? Don’t panic! Follow these simple steps and those blood stains will be gone before you know it.

When it comes to household disasters, there’s little worse than getting blood on your bed. After all, your bedroom is supposed to be an oasis, not be a source of stress. And it is incredibly stressful when you think that you’ve accidentally ruined your sheets, your comforter, and (gasp!) even possibly your very expensive mattress. But don’t panic—it is 100 percent possible to remove blood stains, and we’re about to show you how to get blood out of your sheets and your mattress the right way.

The key to success? Whether you’re dealing with fresh blood or dried blood, you need to have a few lifesaving products on hand in case of emergency and follow these steps exactly. Once you’re up to speed and your sheets have been saved, learn how to remove blood stains from your carpet and your clothes, as well.

How to get blood out of sheets

  1. Strip your bed immediately. This will prevent the blood from transferring onto your comforter or blanket and from seeping into your mattress if it hasn’t already. As with all blood stains, you’ll have the best chance of getting blood out of your sheets if you take quick action. As blood begins to dry, it will start to cling onto the fibers.

  2. Rinse the affected area in the sink to flush out as much of the stain as possible. Always use cold water; warm or hot water will cause the stain to set into your sheets, making it much harder to remove. Don’t rub or scrub the stain yet. This could potentially grind the blood into the fabric. The stain will be easier to remove if you flush away as much as possible first.

  3. If the stain remains after you’ve rinsed the area with cold water, douse it with a stain remover (or just some liquid laundry detergent) and let it dwell on the fabric for up to 15 minutes. If you’re not sure what to use, consult the list below. At this point, it’s safe to rub the sheets together to scrub as necessary.

  4. Next, throw the sheets in the washing machine. Launder with your usual detergent and a little bit of color-safe bleach.

  5. If the blood stain is still visible when you remove the sheets from the washing machine, repeat the entire process again, starting with step 1.

  6. Once the stain is out, let the sheets air-dry. Skip the dryer until you’re sure the stain is fully gone. Why? If any remnants of the blood remain, the hot air of the dryer will cause the stain to set.

Stains or not, you still need to wash your sheets regularly, of course. This is how bad it is if you don’t wash your sheets every week.

Effective stain removers for blood

When you need a little extra help removing blood stains from your sheets, the following products can work some serious magic. Just note that each one requires a slightly different method as detailed below. Also keep in mind that when working with any fabric, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s specifications. Some textiles are very delicate. For instance, bleach and enzyme stain removers are usually not recommended for sheets made of silk or bamboo. Plus, you should always perform a spot test in a hidden area to make sure discoloration doesn’t occur. Here are more laundry mistakes to avoid.

Hydrogen peroxide

hydrogen peroxide gets blood out of sheetsAlaina DiGiacomo/rd.comHydrogen peroxide is a mild bleach that works wonders on blood stains. Although it’s usually safe to use on colored sheets, definitely double-check with a spot test. Once you’ve determined it’s safe to use, pour just enough hydrogen peroxide over the stain to cover the spot. You’ll see it bubble and foam as it starts to attack the stain. If necessary, blot with a clean sponge or cloth until the area is clean. Then launder as usual with your regular detergent and a small amount of color-safe bleach.

Vinegar

If you don’t have hydrogen peroxide on hand, head to your pantry for a bottle of vinegar. Simply substitute white vinegar for the hydrogen peroxide and follow the steps above. This method has the added bonus of being completely natural. Check out these dozens of other uses for household vinegar you never knew about.

Enzyme stain remover

Enzyme stain removers are particularly handy when it comes to fighting tough protein stains (pet urine, grass, blood stains, etc.). If you still see traces of the stain after you’ve treated it with hydrogen peroxide or vinegar, spray the affected area with an enzyme stain remover and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes (or as instructed by the label). Then blot the stain with a dampened sponge or cloth until the stain is removed. Repeat as often as necessary, and rinse the sheets in the sink when you’re through. Once the blood stain has been removed, wash your sheets as usual in the washing machine according to the directions above.

How to get dried blood out of sheets

There may be circumstances where you don’t find the stain right away or simply don’t have time to tackle it. It’s OK. Getting dried blood out of sheets is a challenge, but it can be done. It just might take a little more time and elbow grease.

  1. First, scrape off all the remnants of dried blood over the garbage can or sink with a dry sponge or scrub brush.
  2. Cover the discolored area with hydrogen peroxide. It will bubble up as it attacks the stain, just like it does with fresh blood.
  3. Blot the stain with a clean cloth or sponge until the stain is gone. Be aware that dried blood stains are often more difficult to remove and you may need to repeat these steps several times.
  4. Once the sheets are blood stain-free, wash as usual in your washing machine with your standard laundry detergent and a little color-safe bleach.

how to get blood out of sheetsAlaina DiGiacomo/rd.comSpeaking of challenges, here’s how to clean the 16 dirtiest objects in your home.

How to get blood out of a mattress

If you strip your bed and find that the blood stain has leaked through to your mattress, don’t fret. We can show you how to get blood out of a mattress, too. The main difference here is that a mattress is heavy and bulky, so you obviously can’t carry it to the sink. With the stain remover of choice in hand, follow these steps:

  1. Blot the stain with cold water to remove as much of the blood as possible. If you act fast enough, this may be enough to eliminate the stain. If not, move on to step 2.

  2. After you’ve performed your spot test, apply your stain remover directly to a cloth or sponge, not directly to the mattress. This will prevent the area from becoming overly saturated, which could cause excess fluids to seep into the depths of your mattress.

  3. Blot the area, making sure to keep an eye on the cloth or sponge. If it’s absorbing the stain, use a fresh part when you blot again to avoid transferring the blood back to the mattress.

  4. Repeat as often as necessary. When the area is clean, blot with a dry cloth to soak up as much of the moisture as possible.

  5. Do not make the bed right away. Let your mattress sit uncovered so it has a chance to fully dry. Otherwise, you run the risk of mildew—or sleeping on an uncomfortable damp spot.

If you’re removing dried blood from a mattress, the steps are the same with one notable exception: Make sure you scrape away the dried particles first. Then remove them with a handheld vacuum or hairdryer. If you choose the hairdryer method, just be aware that you’ll need to vacuum or dust afterward. Now that you know how to remove blood from your sheets, find out how to make your bed 10 times cozier.

Sources: 

  • LifeHacker: “Deep Clean Your Mattress With Hydrogen Peroxide, Soap, and Salt”
  • Slumber Yard: “How to Get Blood Out of Mattress”
  • Apartment Therapy: “How to Get Blood Stains Out of Sheets”

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Tamara Gane
Tamara Gane is a regular contributor to Reader's Digest covering travel, lifestyle, history, and culture. Her work has also appeared in The Washington Post, NPR, Al Jazeera, Wine Enthusiast, Lonely Planet, HuffPost Food, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @TamaraGane