Wondering how to get blood out of clothes, sheets, or even a mattress? You’re not alone. You’ll be dealing with your period and all the blood stains it causes for a long, long, time. Period blood stains show up everywhere from panties and denim to towels and more. Over time you’ll likely stain just about everything it’s possible to stain. But the good news is that blood stains are SO not a big deal, and nothing to be embarrassed about. And the even better news is that there are a ton of ways to clean blood stains. Here, 13 ways to remove blood stains—some of them will really surprise you!
1. Run lightweight fabrics under cold water.
When it comes to removing blood stains, especially from items made of lightweight fabric (like sheets, underwear, or PJ bottoms), first try holding the stained area taut under cold running water—you’ll be amazed at how much stuff a steady stream of H2O can coax out of a garment! Sometimes water is enough to get fresh blood out entirely.
2. Up your laundry game with blood-removal products.
If you’re dealing with blood stains on the regular, it’s not a bad idea to know about a few laundry products that are especially good at ghosting ugly blotches. Both oxygenated bleaches and enzymatic cleaners are all-purpose stain treatments that are aces on blood. Carbona Stain Devils #4 is a great product for dorm-dwellers since it comes in teeny-tiny bottles (a little goes a long way!) that won’t take up a lot of storage space. Residual blood stains can also be treated using whatever kind of soap you have nearby; hand soap (both liquid and bar) will work, as will liquid laundry detergent or a laundry bar like Fels-Naptha.
3. Rub salt or saline solution on the stain.
Unfortunately, sometimes blood stains happen when you’re out of the house, and at that point, laundry products won’t do you any good. Luckily, salt water or saline can come in handy in a pinch. Plain old table salt and cold water do really well getting blood out of clothes. If you’re a contact lens wearer, you can use your saline solution to the same effect, which is pretty handy when you’re traveling. Who knew?!
4. Apply hydrogen peroxide or lemon juice to the blood stain.
You might need something stronger for older or more set-in period stains: There are loads of common household items you can use to remove stubborn stains! For lighter colored clothes, hydrogen peroxide or lemon juice are great options. Just be aware that they can cause color loss on darker items, so test them on an inconspicuous area to be sure they’re safe to use.
5. Or, try sponging the stain with aspirin or baking soda.
Two other super common items, aspirin and baking soda, can also be used to treat blood stains. As far as the aspirin is concerned, crush up a few tablets and mix the resulting powder with water to form a paste that can be applied to the stain. Same thing with the baking soda—just mix some with water to make a paste (how much really depends on how large a stain you’re dealing with!). Allow the paste to sit for at least 30 minutes, up to overnight, and then launder the garment as usual.
6. It’s weird, but it can actually work: meat tenderizer!
Here’s one totally oddball thing that will remove blood stains. You ready for this? Unseasoned meat tenderizer. Told you it was weird! It’s really good on older, set-in blood stains. To use it, sprinkle the stain with the tenderizer powder and add enough water to make a paste. Let that sit on the stain for 30 or so minutes, and then finish by rinsing with cold water and washing as usual.
7. There’s always saliva, if nothing else.
If you literally have access to none of the above, there’s still one last option that can actually work: your own spit. We know — it’s sort of gross, but it really works and is a handy thing to keep in mind when you’re on the go and don’t have anything else on hand.
8. Treat blood stains on your sheets and bedding before tossing them in the washing machine.
Those middle-of-the-night leaks sometimes make it all the way onto your bedding. You’ll be happy to know that the techniques for how to get blood out of clothes are exactly the same for ordinary linens. Your sheets should be easy enough to get clean by employing any of the products and techniques you use on your clothes. For a mattress pad or comforter (or anything else that’s oversized but washable), treat the stain just like you would one on your clothes and wash it. Note: If you get a stain on silk bed sheets or anything else super delicate, make sure to read the care label to see what the manufacturer recommends.
You may need to take some bedding to a laundromat if your washing machine isn’t big enough. When it comes to drying, toss clean tennis balls or dryer balls in with the comforter to help redistribute the stuffing and make it nice and fluffy.
9. Spot treat a mattress using barely any liquid.
The trick to how to get blood out of a mattress is to use as little liquid as possible—you don’t want to saturate it, or else it won’t dry! Pick any of the blood stain removal products mentioned above, and dab it on stains using a cotton ball or a clean cloth. The key is to not soak the mattress. Go slowly and use several applications. Then allow the mattress some time to air dry before re-making the bed. If you live in a damp climate, turning a standing fan toward the mattress will help aid the drying process.
10. Soak and blot jeans to remove blood stains.
If you need to get blood out of jeans, the approach is slightly different. Since the fabric is thick, you’ll start by blotting the stain from the inside. Soak a washcloth in cold water, wring it out, and then blot away. Avoid the temptation to rub the stain — that will only spread the blood. Keep blotting until no more blood comes off on the washcloth. After blotting the stain, let your jeans soak in cold water for a half an hour and then pop them into the washing machine (set your cycle to a setting that uses cold water, of course).
11. Treat the stain as soon as possible.
The fresher a blood stain is, the easier it is to get out. If you notice a blood stain on your sheets or clothing, deal with the stain right away. If you’re running late or just can’t treat it at the moment, at least throw the garment in a bowl of cold water to soak the stain. It’ll be much easier to deal with later if it didn’t get the opportunity to dry.
12. Never treat a blood stain with hot water.
When it comes to blood stains, hot water will do more harm than good. Hot water (and warm water, for that matter) heats the stain, and in the case of blood, it will cause the blood to seep deeper into the fabric’s fibers. Not only that, but hot water should never be used on delicate fabrics, as it can warp or shrink them.
13. And remember, if at first you don’t succeed …
Try, try again! Sometimes with blood stains, or really with any stains, you need to give it more than one pass to save your clothes. And sometimes you just have to try something different! The important thing to remember is that if a stain doesn’t come out the first time, all is not lost. Give it another shot, and when you’re done, treat yourself to some chocolate. You earned it.
This article was originally published in 2014.
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