How to Get Blood Stains Out of Sheets

updated Sep 28, 2022
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There’s a high chance you’ve had the unpleasant experience of waking up to blood-stained sheets at some point in your life, whether from a heavy menstrual cycle, midnight bloody nose, or a pesky cut from shaving. Luckily, the cleaning process isn’t as bad as you think. First, you’ll need to strip your bed and gather your supplies. The task of cleaning blood out of sheets is far from impossible—it will just take a little time and effort to do it right.

Laundry expert Laura Goodman, a senior scientist with Procter & Gamble, says blood, like most other bodily fluids, can be more stubborn to remove than other stains because of its chemical composition. All that means is you’ll need the right ingredients (used in the right order) to do the job.

“Blood is a complex mixture of proteins, cellular matter, sugar, and fat,” says Goodman. “As a result, it requires a variety of ingredients for complete removal.”

Curious how to get blood out of your bed sheets? Not to worry—we have you covered. Here’s all the expert-sourced info you need to know about removing blood stains, one step at a time.

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First, 3 Things to Know Before You Start

There are a few steps you can take to make the blood-removal process a lot easier—and, ultimately, your sheets a lot cleaner. Here are a few things to know before you begin the stain-removal process:

  1. Removing fresh blood from sheets tends to be easier and quicker than if the blood has dried. “You’ll want to act fast to remove blood stains, preferably when the stain is still fresh,” Goodman says. “This is because the hemoglobin in the blood begins to clot when exposed to air and can cling tightly to fibers.”
  2. Always use cold water. Many other stains can be removed with warm water, but you’ll want to stick to cold if blood is involved. Goodman says warm or hot water will set the blood stain, making it difficult (or near impossible) to remove.
  3. Wool and silk are protein-based fabrics, so avoid enzyme cleaners. Enzyme-based cleaners are an effective way to clean blood because they destroy animal (in this case, human) protein, according to laundry expert Patric Richardson, owner of the Minneapolis-based boutique Mona Williams. However, since both silk and wool are protein-based, using enzyme cleaners can eat the fabric.

What Is a Good Stain Remover for Blood?

There are lots of good solutions for removing blood from sheets (and clothes, for that matter). Here are some of the most commonly recommended stain removers for nixing blood from fabric. Each of these options can be used in Step 3 below as a spot treatment before regular laundering.

  • Hydrogen peroxide: Richardson says hydrogen peroxide can be a reliable—and easy—weapon against blood. After removing the sheet from the bed, put a towel behind the affected area, then pour on some hydrogen peroxide. “You’ll watch it foam up, and after a few seconds, it’s done everything it will do,” he says. “Just make sure it’s still wet when the washer starts.”
  • Wine Away: “Wine Away will totally work to remove blood, similar to hydrogen peroxide,” Richardson says. “Just apply it to the affected area and throw it in the washer while it’s still wet.”
  • Sodium Percarbonate Bleach Alternatives: Richardson loves The Laundress’ All-Purpose Bleach Alternative and says it’s just as effective as bleach but color-safe. To use it, mix up a tablespoon in a quart of water and either dab the solution on the stain or dip the stain straight in it. “You can also add two capfuls to the wash as if you were just washing the sheets,” he says. 
  • Nature’s Miracle: Nature’s Miracle is intended mostly for pet stains, according to Richardson. But since it’s an enzymatic cleaner, it could work to treat any sort of organic stain. If you want to try Nature’s Miracle for blood stains, just spray the recommended amount on the affected area, wait 10 minutes, then blot. 

How to Remove Blood From Sheets in 4 Steps

Now, you’re ready to move on to the important stuff: removing the blood from your sheets. Gather your supplies—your pre-treatment of choice, laundry detergent, a bucket, and some water—and get to work.

1. Blot out the stain with a clean, dry cloth

The first step is to remove any excess blood from the sheets. Use a dry cloth to gently blot at the stain, removing as much blood as you can from the sheet with a brush or cloth. You may want to adjust your cloth periodically to blot with a clean section of cloth to avoid spreading the stain.

2. Rinse with cold water

Dunk the stained area of the sheet in cold water to rinse, essentially diluting the stain and making it easier to remove.

3. Treat with a stain-removing solution, then launder as usual

Treat the stained area with your stain-removal product of choice, following whatever directions are on the label (or our directions above). Goodman recommends pre-treating by creating a soaking solution in a plastic bucket with 25 ml liquid detergent per gallon of cold water.

Allow the stained portion of the sheet to soak for up to 30 minutes, using the weight of a towel to keep it totally submerged. After treatment, wash the sheets as you normally would, always making sure to use cold water.

4. Air- or line-dry your sheets

If the stain remains after air drying, you should treat the stain again or try an alternate method/product from the list above. Don’t machine-dry your item because the heat could set the stain. “It’s not impossible to get a stain out of something if you’ve run it through the dryer, but it will be a lot harder,” Richardson says.

How to Get Dried Blood Out of Sheets

While it’s always best to attempt to remove a stain as quickly as possible, you can still remove dried blood from your sheets with the same steps as above. But there’s an important first step, Richardson says. Just make sure the affected spot is moist before washing it. “Make the blood spot wet with some water, and then treat it like normal,” Richardson says. 

If the stain is particularly stubborn, follow the same steps an additional time.

Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani/Kitchn

Does saliva remove blood stains?

Technically, yes: Saliva contains enzymes, so it can break down proteins, including a blood stain. But saliva isn’t a practical way to get blood stains out of fabric. “If it’s a tiny spot, saliva will work,” Richardson says. “But if the stain is big, you won’t be able to produce enough saliva to make it work.”

Does baking soda remove blood stains? 

It may be an effective cleaner on hard surfaces, but Richardson says baking soda doesn’t remove blood. 

Does salt water remove blood stains? 

Avoid using salt water on blood or on any stain. According to Richardson, salt can actually have the opposite effect by setting the stain.

Does vinegar remove blood stains?

Another no, Richardson says—vinegar isn’t a reliable way to remove blood stains. If you want to use a non-commercial solution, opt for hydrogen peroxide instead.