Blood. Without getting too graphic, let’s just say that dealing with blood is a natural part of life. In fact, considering that blood makes up about 8% of a human’s total bodyweight, and that the average adult has about 10 pints of it sloshing around inside at any given moment, it’s downright astonishing that we're not just constantly covered in the stuff. That’s something to be thankful for, right?
Unfortunately, when some of that blood does find its way out, it can really make a mess — particularly when it gets on your mattress and bedding. But waking up in a bloodstained bed is no reason to panic (at least from a stain-removal perspective). Because when it comes to removing blood stains, we’ve got our finger on the pulse. Read on!
Removing Blood Stains: General Tips
Before we get to scrubbing, let’s first go over a couple of basic tips.
Dealing with blood while it’s fresh may not be pleasant, but it’s the best way to make sure that the stain doesn’t become permanent. This is because the hemoglobin in blood clots when exposed to air, and that can cause the stain to harden up and more-firmly embed itself in the fabric. If you want to get your bedding and mattress back to its original condition, start the cleaning process as soon as you see red.
Colder is Better
When faced with the prospect of a new stain, many of us go straight for the warm-water rinse. But blood isn’t like most other stains, and warm water can actually cause it to set, making it nearly impossible to remove. Only use cold water when rinsing a blood stain. We repeat: COLD WATER ONLY.
Removing Blood Stains: What You’ll Need
If you’re going to beat the bloodstain, you’ll need the right weapons. Gather these common household supplies and keep them someplace you can get to at a moment’s notice.
- Cold water
- Baking Soda
- White Vinegar
- Clean Towels
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- A Toothbrush
Removing Blood Stains: What to Do
- The major problem with blood (other than the squick factor) is that it’s made up of both liquid and solids, and that it undergoes a chemical change when it interacts with oxygen. The end result is a quickly hardening gel, that can be an absolute pain to remove from fibrous fabrics.
Attacking the stain means taking it down on a chemical level, breaking apart the proteins, and preventing the stain from setting. And here’s how to do it:
- As soon as you notice stains on your bedding and mattress, strip the bed down and take the sheets and any other stained bedding to the laundry room. With the mattress exposed, remove any excess liquid blood by blotting it with a clean cloth or towel (possibly one you aren’t super fond of). As you blot, adjust the cloth so that you aren’t accidentally spreading the stain into otherwise clean areas.
- Moisten the area with cold water, and then use another (again, not-favorite) cloth to soak up the moisture. Avoid scrubbing or rubbing; the idea here is to soak up the blood and keep it from hardening, not to push it down deeper into the fabric. For smaller stains, water may do the trick all by itself.
- Sprinkle some baking soda over the stained area and then spray it liberally with a 1:1 mixture of water and white vinegar. Leave it there for about 30 minutes, and then vacuum up whatever is left. Repeat the process if necessary.
- With the mattress taken care of, it’s time to focus on the stained bedding. Again, gently blot away any excess blood, and rinse the stained areas with cold water.
- If the stain remains, consider soaking it in a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and cold water for up to 24 hours (as a rule of thumb, use about ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide, followed by enough water to completely submerge the sheets). Just be aware that hydrogen peroxide can bleach colored fabrics; one alternative is to crush up an aspirin and add it to cold water to make a paste, then pretreat the area with the paste and let it dry.
- Launder the sheets as normal (using only cold water). When the wash cycle is done, inspect the stain, and if necessary, treat it again — if the stain is still there when the sheets go into the dryer, then it may be there forever.
Removing Blood Stains: Advanced Techniques
Has the stain already set by the time you noticed it? If so, there’s still hope. Just mix up ½ cup hydrogen peroxide, ½ cup cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon of salt to form a paste. Spread the paste on the stain and let it sit for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes are up, use a toothbrush to work the paste down into the stain. Apply cold water and then dab it away with a clean towel. Allow the area to dry, and repeat the process if necessary.
Sooner or later we all have to deal with a little blood on the sheets. But with this guide, we’re confident that you’ll be able to take care of those stains and get back on your feet (or into your bed) in no time!
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