Most people generally do not want to get blood on the sheets, but it happens and happens unexpectedly. Whether it involves an accident, a bloody nose, a cut in the middle of the night (if you have a cat, you know exactly what we mean) or a recurring medical condition, sheets get blood stains on them. No matter how careful you are, it’s probably something you have experienced or will experience at some point. And, unfortunately, it isn't always easy to remove blood stains. Seeing blood on your bed sheets can also be a bit of a shock when you wake up.
However, just like everything else, you can remove blood from sheets with the right strategy and tools. Fortunately, we know what is needed and want to share that information with you. So, here is just about everything you need to know if you have a problem with blood-stained sheets and need a solution quickly. Keep reading to learn how to remove blood from sheets!
What Type of Sheets Do You Have?
There are plenty of sheet types out there, divided into categories of sizes, thread counts and materials (or mixtures thereof). Thread counts matter for your comfort, but when it comes to cleaning blood, material matters more. Cotton sheets will behave differently than silk sheets in many circumstances, and there will also be differences in how you can wash them. You also need to be mindful of whether your sheets are made from color-safe material.
Different sheets made from the same material will likely use the same methods, but there might be special instructions on the sheets you have. Before anything else, see if there are markers or instructions on cleaning the sheets (likely on a tag).
What to Do:
- Remove the sheet from the bed immediately and strip the rest of the bedding off, too. This helps prevent spread, and you are going to need to change things anyhow. The sooner you can treat the stain, the better. It’s usually best to get blood out of fabric while it is still wet. However, it is possible to remove dried blood as well, which we will discuss later.
- For a smaller area stained with fresh blood, you will need a bowl or container that you can fit the bloodied part into. If the stained area is larger, you may need to put the entire stained sheet in a large container or even your bathtub.
- Get some hydrogen peroxide and put some in the bowl (or other container/tub). This is what you will use to pretreat the stain.
- Slowly add cold water to the mixture, taking care not to let it overflow. You don’t have to be exact, but the ratio should be around one part hydrogen peroxide to six parts water. Be sure to use cold water, as hot water or even warm water can adversely affect the sheets.
- Soak the sheet or part of the sheet in the mixture of hydrogen peroxide. It is best to let it soak for 24 hours. If there is a lot of blood involved, you may wish to swap out the mixture with a fresh one as you feel the need.
- If the stain is not completely gone after the soak, repeat the process, replacing the water and hydrogen peroxide as required. You may also need to gently dab the stain with a clean cloth to fully remove the blood.
- Once all the above has occurred, then you might want to wash the sheet in a normal wash cycle. In most cases, you will want to use cold water and milder laundry detergent. You may also want to use your preferred stain remover to get rid of any lingering blood. A gentle cycle might be recommended as well, depending on the material. Always check the care label on your sheets prior to laundering or attempting to remove stains.
- Do not dry your clothes using a dryer. A dryer can effectively set or cook in a stain even further, possibly making it impossible to remove. Instead, try to air dry clothes out of the sun. If the stain persists after the sheet is dry, you will need to do some extra work to try to remove it.
Removing Dried Blood
For dried blood, there are a few extra steps. In such cases, do the following:
- Take a knife and try to scrape the dried blood off the sheets gently. Do so carefully and slowly, and make sure not to damage the fabric. If you feel your sheets are too delicate for this treatment, move to the following step.
- Take the cleaning solution from the process above and apply it to the dried blood spot. Let it sit overnight if possible.
- Take the sheets and then launder in your washing machine as you normally would, but be sure to use cold water. Do not add any additional washing to the wash. You don’t want to risk transferring the blood to anything else.
- Air dry the sheets in the shade and check if the stain is still there. If it is, repeat the above steps.
Of course, what you should do will be affected by the material, blood and other factors. Dried blood can be tricky, so you may need to cycle your sheets through the above multiple times. Patience will be your friend. Remember to avoid drying in the dryer until you have completely removed the stain.
How Much Blood?
After a certain point, however, it might be best to simply replace your sheets. If there is a veritable pool of blood to contend with, even the strongest cleaning products can only do so much. However, you may be able to absorb some of the blood with cornstarch. Just sprinkle a generous amount of cornstarch on the stain, let sit for several hours and then vacuum. After the wounds are properly tended to (obviously), safe disposal is the best option if you’re unable to soak up the blood using this method. Unless the sheets are extremely valuable, replacing them will likely not be hugely expensive given the amount of labor and the cost of the cleaning products that could otherwise be involved. If your sheets are extremely valuable, consider consulting with a dry cleaner or another laundry professional. They may be able to provide helpful advice or clean your sheets for you.
As for exactly how much effort is too much, that is something for you to decide for yourself. If you have colored sheets, the stain may become unnoticeable fairly quickly. However, if you have white sheets, getting rid of the stain completely may require a lot more effort.
Don't Forget to Check Everything Else
After you check the sheets and remove them, also do not forget to check for bloodstains elsewhere. Depending on the colors, they might not be easy to notice — and if there is a bleed, you could have moved around in the night, spreading the blood. When you see it, you might want to strip the bed entirely and start running a few washes using cold water. You're going to need to clean everything at some point anyway, so why not just give everything a fresh start?
Check your mattress, too. Unless there was a very small amount of blood, there’s a good chance that it soaked through to the mattress. We’ll share some tips on removing blood from your mattress below.
Be Sure That You Are Safe
Blood is a biohazard for a reason. It can easily transmit diseases if you are not careful, is prone to attracting bacteria and even some animals and is generally unpleasant to many people. To that end, cleaning sheets with such materials on them is a process you should take care with. Casually slinging the sheets around is not recommended.
This is especially the case if you are cleaning up someone else's blood. Your own blood has germs that you probably already have in your system, but someone else's blood might be carrying something entirely different.
When cleaning the blood-stained sheets, be sure to avoid contact with it as much as possible, ideally wearing gloves to protect yourself. Also, try to separate the stained or bloodied sheets from anything else you may be washing. Outside of this, use sound judgment and take your time with the process when needed. If you are unable to launder bloody sheets safely, throwing them away is your best option.
Why Is Blood Hard to Get Out?
Compared to other common stains, blood is notorious for being hard to get out — at least via typical methods. Yet why is this the case? Blood itself contains hemoglobin. This is great for your health, as you wouldn't survive all that long without it, but it is not so great for your sheets. The hemoglobin binds the blood to whatever it touches (in this case, your sheets), making it harder to get out than something like food. Since it takes time for the hemoglobin to bind fully, we recommend acting as quickly as possible. Fresh stains are much easier to remove than old ones.
Worse yet, blood is a deep red to brown color, making it immediately noticeable in many cases —, especially on standard white or ivory sheets. So while a small stain from something else might not be noticeable, even a bit of blood will remain in full view.
Usually, blood gets in the sheets at night when you are sleeping, which gives the blood plenty of time to seep in and dry into the fabric before you notice it, resulting in stubborn stains that are very difficult to remove. If it's (hopefully) not a significant amount of blood, you might not notice until the next time you go to wash your bedding or you make your bed, which might not be that morning.
What About the Mattress?
While we won't go into too much detail, some of the solutions listed above might work. If not, then it might require a bit more cleaning or some special treatment. Some mattresses will be easier than others, so pay attention and look up additional cleaning methods if needed. It might depend on the material of your mattress (at least the outside of it). There may be instructions specific to your brand and model you can look up online, so do a quick search if you need to so you can potentially save time.
Following the manufacturer’s specific guidelines for your mattress is your best bet. However, if you don’t have access to this information, there are a few general techniques to try.
Use a clean cloth or paper towels to soak up as much blood as possible. Then, make a paste using baking soda and water, and apply it to the stained area. Let dry for at least 30 minutes and then remove the dried paste. Rinse with cool water and dab with paper towels or a cloth. Alternatively, apply white vinegar to the affected area. Let soak for 10 minutes and then blot with a damp cloth. Repeat until the stain is gone.
Also, for future reference, we would recommend the use of a mattress protector. They can add more padding, make sure your mattress lasts longer and are generally no more difficult to clean than sheets would be. Cleaning many styles is as easy as tossing them in the washer. It might be an extra load in the wash, but it is far less work than dealing with a stained mattress. A mattress protector might even be necessary to keep your warranty active.
Getting blood out of the sheets isn't always easy, but we hope you can find the right solution for you. That means getting it out completely, doing so in a safe manner and being able to be proud of your sheets afterwards. It might require patience at times, but the above information should get you right on your way to a stain-free bedroom. Blood stain removal is tricky, but when you understand the general process, you should have no problem removing most stains.