How to Get Blood Out of Sheets in 3 Simple Steps

Updated: Apr. 18, 2024

Bye-bye, bloodstains! We asked laundry-care experts how to get blood out of sheets, and these are their must-try methods.

At some point in just about all our lives, we will wake up to find that we’ve bloodied our sheets or pillowcases during the night. It is, to be sure, a terrible way to start the day. Whether the bloodstained sheets are a result of a bloody nose, a menstrual leak or a cut that’s opened overnight, they could use some stain-busting, stat. But before you jump into action, make sure you know how to get blood out of sheets the right way.

This step-by-step guide will teach you how to remove stains from blood using different stain-removal agents and techniques. And while you’ll certainly learn how to tend to your sheets, you can also apply these tips to situations in which you need to get blood out of your clothes.

I’ve spent over a decade offering cleaning advice and tips for dealing with all of life’s little messes, bloody or otherwise. But even I turn to the pros for advice. To supplement my knowledge of how to get blood out of sheets, I spoke to Kim Romine, a fabric-care scientist at Procter & Gamble, and Wayne Edelman, a laundry- and fabric-care expert, about how to clean bloodstained fabric. Read on for a foolproof guide to getting your bedsheets bright and clean.

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About the experts

  • Kim Romine is a fabric-care scientist at Procter & Gamble. She has over 20 years of experience developing fabric-care products like Tide laundry detergent.
  • Wayne Edelman is the CEO of Meurice, a family-owned dry cleaning business specializing in high-end dry cleaning and restoration services. He is a board member of the National Cleaners Association.

Reviewed for accuracy by: Mary Marlowe Leverette, a highly regarded fabric-care, stain-removal and housekeeping expert with more than 40 years of experience.

First, pick your stain fighters

Knowing how to get blood out of sheets starts with understanding the makeup of the stain. “Blood can be an extremely tough stain to remove because it is so complex,” Romine says. “It is a mixture of various components, such as proteins, cellular matter, sugar and fat, and requires special attention for complete removal.”

While bloodstains can be difficult to remove, one good thing about them is that there are a great deal of very good stain removers and methods for treating your sheets. Many commercial stain fighters are formulated with blood and other protein stains in mind, as are liquid laundry detergents that you can use to pretreat bloodstains on sheets. And then there are folksy remedies, like using saliva or crushed-up aspirin to remove bloodstains—both will work, but there are better methods to choose.

Enzymatic stain remover

Blood contains protein, and protein stains are most effectively broken down using enzyme cleaners. Enzymatic stain eliminators are formulated to treat bio-based stains like blood and other bodily fluids, such as sweat. An enzymatic stain remover is the best overall choice for removing blood stains from sheets.

Hydrogen peroxide

hydrogen peroxide gets blood out of sheetsAlaina DiGiacomo/

Hydrogen peroxide is another gold-standard bloodstain treatment, and it does indeed work very well. But use caution: It can have a bleaching effect, resulting in color loss. Before using it on dark or non-colorfast fabrics, perform a spot test to be sure it won’t cause irreversible damage.

“Care should be used when trying to remove bloodstains from textiles that are not colorfast,” Edelman says. “The best practice is to test in an inconspicuous area first before attempting the stain removal.”

Liquid laundry detergent

While enzyme-based treatments are the best choice for bloodstains, liquid laundry detergent is a good stand-in for those products. Most liquid laundry detergents are formulated with enzymes to address bio-based protein stains like blood, sweat and other bodily fluids.

Salt or saline

Those looking for a budget-friendly solution will love this one: You can use cold water and table salt to get blood out of sheets. Simply wet the stain with cold water and sprinkle salt on it, then massage the salt into the stain by rubbing the sheet against itself.

You can also use saline solution to remove bloodstains from sheets and other fabrics, an especially helpful hack to remember if you’re a contact lens wearer. Reach for your saline solution to get rid of bloodstains while traveling or during other times when you don’t have access to traditional laundry products or facilities.

Meat tenderizer

Blood stain on sheets with meat tenderizer package nearby, on blue backgroundTMB Studio

There are a great many oddball remedies for bloodstains, and this might be the oddest of them all: unseasoned meat tenderizer—the food item, not the pounding tool. It works by breaking down the proteins in meat, making the cuts more tender. And it’ll also break down the proteins in bloodstains, helping to eliminate them.

This natural-cleaning method is best for older, set-in stains, such as those on a mattress. Simply mix unseasoned meat tenderizer with water to make a paste that will remove stubborn bloodstains.

Oxygen or color-safe bleach

“Set bloodstains might require using an oxygen bleach,” Edelman says. To do that, soak your stained sheets in an oxygen bleach solution prior to laundering.

This type of bleach, which is also called color-safe bleach, is an effective way to remove very large and/or older bloodstains on sheets. (It’s also useful for whitening yellow stains on pillows.)

How to get fresh blood out of sheets

How To Get Blood Out Of Sheets step by step graphic illustration with a blue

It’s best to treat a bloodstain as soon as possible—the fresher the bloodstain is, the easier it will be to remove. The steps below will teach you how to get blood out of sheets before the stain sets.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Cold water
  • Enzymatic stain remover
  • Laundry detergent

Step 1: Flush the stain with cold water

cold water running over blood stain on sheetsTMB Studio

Start by rinsing the stain with water—at the proper temperature. “One thing to keep in mind,” Romine says, “is that it is best to use cold water when cleaning bloodstains. Warm or hot water can cause the components in the blood to clump together and stick to the fabric, making it even harder to clean.”

Flush the blood with cold running water by holding the stained area taut under the faucet. Hold the sheet with the back side facing up so that the water pushes the blood out and away from the fabric, rather than back through itself.

Step 2: Apply the stain remover

Hand applying enzymatic stain remover to blood stain on sheetsTMB Studio

You can pick your preferred stain fighter from the list above, but you’ll have the best luck with an enzymatic stain remover, such as Carbona Pro Care Laundry Scrubber. Apply it directly onto the bloodstain. Rub the fabric against itself to work the enzyme formula into the stain, and allow 10 minutes for it to break down the proteins before laundering.

Step 3: Launder as usual

Hands adding treated blood stained sheets to a washing machine for launderingTMB Studio

Wash the sheets in cold water using your regular laundry detergent, following any relevant instructions provided on the care label. After washing, check that the stain is gone before transferring the sheets to the dryer; the dryer’s high heat can permanently set stains. If the stains persist, either repeat this process or use the following method for removing large or very set-in bloodstains from sheets.

How to get dried blood out of sheets

Sheets with a dried blood stain in a laundry basket on blue backgroundTMB Studio

As blood dries, it oxidizes, changing the chemical composition and making the stain more difficult to remove. This hands-off method for treating dried blood on sheets with a soaking agent is also a smart way to remove very large bloodstains on sheets.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Enzymatic stain remover
  • Oxygen bleach
  • Laundry detergent

Step 1: Apply the stain remover

Apply the enzymatic stain remover directly onto the dried bloodstain. Work it into the fabric by rubbing the stained area against itself.

Step 2: Make the oxygen bleach solution

Following the package directions, mix the oxygen bleach with water to create a solution in which you can soak the bloodstained sheets. You will need a space large enough to fully submerge the sheets in the oxygen bleach solution, one where they can be left, undisturbed, for an hour or up to overnight. The kitchen sink, a utility sink or a washing bucket are good options.

Step 3: Soak the sheets

Allow the sheets to soak in the oxygen bleach solution for at least an hour, longer if possible. Oxygen bleach is a highly effective stain remover, but it works more slowly than enzyme formulas or traditional chlorine bleach, so allowing time for it to work will produce the best results.

It can be helpful to rub the stained fabric against itself periodically during the soaking process; the mechanical action will help move the stain out of the fabric.

Step 4: Launder as usual

After soaking the bloodstained sheets, toss them in the washing machine and launder them in cold water. Before transferring the sheets to the dryer, check that the stain is gone to avoid permanently setting the stains.


how to get blood out of sheetsAlaina DiGiacomo/

Can blood come out of bedsheets?

While blood is a complex stain, it is relatively easy to remove from sheets using a variety of stain-eliminating products and methods. Fresh bloodstains are easier to remove from sheets than dried or deeply set-in bloodstains.

Will Dawn remove blood from sheets?

Yes, Dawn dish soap will remove blood from sheets. That said, using it or a similar commercial dish soap is more effective on a fresh bloodstain than on a dried or set-in bloodstain.

Is it better to wash bloodstained sheets in hot or cold water?

Water temperature matters, so always wash bloodstained fabric in cold water. Washing a bloodstain in hot water can cause the proteins to cook, and the heat can set the stain into the sheets.

Does the type of sheet affect the cleaning method to use?

The methods described in this guide can be used on most types of sheets, including cotton, linen, bamboo, flannel and polyester. However, it is important to consult the care tag for specific laundering instructions to avoid causing irreversible damage.

Speaking of damage, be careful when washing silk. Silk sheets should not be soaked in or washed with oxygen bleach.

How do you get blood out of a mattress?

“When treating a bloodstain on a mattress, you need to apply the [stain-removing] solution and then vacuum it out with a wet-dry vacuum or upholstery-cleaning machine,” Edelman says.

Why trust us

At Reader’s Digest, we’re committed to producing high-quality content by writers with expertise and experience in their field in consultation with relevant, qualified experts. For this piece, Jolie Kerr tapped her experience as a longtime cleaning journalist, New York Times bestselling author and Ask a Clean Person podcast host, and then Mary Marlowe Leverette, a highly regarded fabric-care, stain-removal and housekeeping expert with more than 40 years of experience, gave it a rigorous review to ensure that all information is accurate and offers the best possible advice to readers. For this piece, we relied on reputable primary sources, including two leading fabric-care experts. We verified all facts and data and backed them with credible sourcing, and we will revisit them over time to ensure they remain accurate and up to date. Read more about our team, our contributors and our editorial policies.