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How to remove bloodstains from sheets

A pair of hands in rubber gloves soaks bloodstained sheets in a blue basin

Say goodbye to stained sheets with our easy-to-follow guide

Accidents happen from time to time, so knowing how to remove bloodstains from sheets can be useful.

While you may be up to speed on how to keep your bedding fresh and clean, bloodstains need to be treated differently to everyday spills or sweat staining. Incorrect washing could mean that either the stain isn’t removed completely, or you could even make the problem worse.

Don’t despair, though – it is actually possible to remove blood stains from your sheets, so there’s no need to run out and splash out on a new set of bedding just yet. With a little bit of know-how, it’s easy to get your sheets back to their spotless best; from cold-soaking to spot removal, and even using a pinch of salt, we have all the tips and tricks you need to remove stains from sheets.

If the blood has seeped through your sheets and onto the surface below, don’t panic: check out our guides on ‘How to clean a mattress’ and ‘How to wash pillows’ for further specialist cleaning help.

So, before you toss your bloodstained bedding straight in the washing machine – you absolutely should not do this – read on for our step-by-step advice.

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How to remove bloodstains from sheets

As is the case when tackling any stain, the best thing you can do when it comes to removing blood from sheets is to act quickly. As soon as you spot the blood, whether it’s fresh or dry, start by soaking your sheets in cold water. You can use the bath if your sheets are very large. Do not be tempted to use warm or hot water when dealing with bloodstains, since this will further set the stain into the fabric, making it almost impossible to remove.

How to spot-remove bloodstains from sheets

If possible, keep a range of stain removal products on hand – these will prove invaluable when it comes to dealing with spills, stains and accidents. Find the best stain removers for your needs, and check the laundry symbols on your bedding to make sure it’s suitable for use on your sheets. Our helpful laundry symbol explainer may help you if you’re unsure what they mean; but the key thing is to ensure you don’t use bleaching products on coloured sheets. Use the stain remover as per the manufacturer’s instructions, scrubbing with cold water as you go.

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How to clean blood-stained sheets using a washing machine

Once you’ve soaked the bedding in cold water and scrubbed the stain, you can pre-treat the area using laundry detergent. Again, ensure you opt for a product that’s safe and suitable for the type of bedding. In our roundup of the best laundry detergents, we favoured Bio-D’s Fragrance Free Non-Bio Laundry Liquid, which we found “cleans clothes very well” and was “effective at lower temperatures”.

Use the pre-soak function on your washing machine if you have one, then wash on a 40ºC cycle, taking care not to overload the drum since this will not allow the washing machine to clean properly. Do not tumble dry. White bed sheets are best dried outside in the sun, which acts as a natural brightening agent to further remove any staining.

For more advice on getting the most out of your washing machine, read our handy guide ‘How to use a washing machine’.

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How to remove blood stains from sheets without stain remover

No stain remover? No problem, says Catherine Green, Smol’s sustainable cleaning guru: “Blood stains can be tackled in one of three ways, all solutions you can find in your cupboard:

1. A simple bar of hand soap. Using the soap, repeatedly rub and rinse the stain with cold water until it’s lifted and then wash as normal.

2. Another store cupboard option is aspirin. Crush two aspirin tablets and add to a small bowl of tepid water. Place the stained area of the garment in the bowl and allow to soak for 30 minutes, then wash as normal.

3. Finally, salt is another way of tackling blood stains. Cover the stain with table salt and then blot with cold water and a clean cloth before washing as normal.”

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