Most people generally do not want to get blood on the sheets, but it happens and happens unexpectedly. Whether it involves an accident, a cut in the middle of the night (if you have a cat, you know exactly what we mean), a bloody nose, a medical condition or a recurring monthly visitor, sheets get blood on them. Unfortunately, it isn't always easy to get out and can also be a bit of a shock when you wake up.
However, just like everything else, you can remove blood from both white sheets and colored sheets with the right strategy and tools. Fortunately, we know what is needed and want to share that with you. So, before you throw those stained sheets in the trash, keep reading to discover some helpful blood stain removal tips.
Consider What Type of Bed Sheets 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 and what you can use to treat the stained area.
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.) If you have expensive sheets and can’t find a care tag, visit the manufacturer’s website to search for additional information.
What to Do:
Remove Your Bedding
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 anyway. Fresh blood is easier to remove than dried blood stains, so the sooner you act, the better. Rinse with cold water to remove excess blood.
Gather Your Supplies: Hydrogen Peroxide, Bleach, Stain Remover, etc.
For a smaller area stained with blood, you will need a bowl or container that you can fit the bloodied part into.
If you’d like to take a natural approach to cleaning, grab some hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Alternatively, you can use bleach or stain remover. If you use commercial products, follow the instructions carefully. Some folks also use meat tenderizer, cornstarch, salt water and other things to remove blood stains. However, we recommend sticking with peroxide and baking soda, if possible.
When using natural ingredients, pour the hydrogen peroxide in a bowl and slowly add water, taking care not to let it overflow. Use cold water. Warm water or hot water could set the stain and make it impossible to remove.
Soak Your Sheet
Soak your sheet (or just the stained area) in just the vinegar-water solution for at least 24 hours. For large stains, you may need to swap out the mixture a few times.
Check Your Sheets and Dab or Scrub with Baking Soda or Lemon Juice (If Needed)
After 24 hours or so, examine your sheet(s) to determine whether the stain has been removed. If it’s still there, try scrubbing the affected area with baking soda and an old toothbrush. If this doesn’t eliminate the stain, you may need to soak it again or try a different cleaning solution. White vinegar and lemon juice both provide gentle bleaching when you dab them on stubborn stains. Keep in mind, though, that in addition to providing effective blood stain removal, these products can remove the color from your sheets (much like regular bleach).
Launder in Your Washing Machine
Once you have removed all (or at least most) of the blood stain, throw your sheets in the washing machine with gentle laundry detergent. Use cold water, or follow the instructions on the care label. Depending on your sheets’ material, you may need to use the gentle cycle.
When the cycle is finished, don’t put your bedding in the dryer. The heat from your dryer can set or cook in a blood stain even further, making it impossible to remove. Instead, air dry your clean sheets in the sun, if possible.
If stains are still present, repeat the soaking and laundering steps. If you can still see blood after repeating the entire process, the stain may not be removable.
Removing Dried Blood
Removed dried blood from sheets and pillowcases tends to be a bit trickier. The longer the stain sits, the longer the blood has to bond with the fibers and become much more difficult to clean. Not all dried stains can be removed, but it’s worth a try!
Remove as Much Dried Blood as Possible
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. Something dull, like a butter knife, works best. If you feel your sheets are too delicate for this treatment, move to the following step.
Soak the Stain
Take the cleaning solution from the process above and apply it to the dried blood spot. Let it sit overnight, if possible. Check the stain after it has had time to soak. If the affected area looks good, move on to the next step. If not, soak it longer or follow the additional cleaning suggestions above.
Launder Your Bedding
Wash your sheets using cold water and regular laundry detergent. Air dry your sheets and check to see if the stain is still there. If it is, repeat the blood stain removal process.
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. Remember that it’s better to work in multiple passes rather than overloading your washing machine with excess detergent. Our laundry detergent sheets take out the guesswork here since two sheets is just the right amount for a full load of bedding. Patience will be your friend. Just remember not to put your sheets in the dryer because heat sets stains.
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. After the wounds are properly tended to (obviously), safe disposal is the best option. Unless your bed 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.
As for exactly how much is too much, that is something for you to decide for yourself. If blood stains are a monthly occurrence, you might want to consider keeping an old pair of stained sheets to use during that time.
Don't Forget to Check Everything Else
After you check the sheets and remove them, do not forget to check for blood stains elsewhere, too. 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. You're going to need to clean everything at some point anyway, so why not just give everything a fresh start?
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 with which you should take care. 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. This is also important when throwing stained sheets in the trash. In this situation, remove as much blood as possible and then place the sheets in a separate plastic bag in your trash.
When cleaning bloody 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. When soaking your bed sheets, do so in an area that’s out of reach for kids and pets residing in your household.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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. It might be an extra load in the wash, but it is far less work than dealing with a stained mattress. A 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 afterward. It might require patience at times, but the above information should get you right on your way to a stain-free bedroom. And when all else fails, treat yourself to a comfy new sheet set.