How to remove blood stains from sheets, mattresses, clothing, carpets and more

Knowing how to remove blood stains quickly and efficiently is key to save bedsheets, mattresses, clothes, carpets and more from discolored areas forever

clean white bed linen
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you need to know how to remove blood stains from sheets, a mattress, clothing or even the carpet and upholstery, we can help. And yes, it happens to the best of us. Whether it's a kid's grazed knee, that time of the month or a sporadic nosebleed, it's not the most enjoyable job but it's key to get to it quickly to avoid permanent blood stains around the house.

What's great is that you can use natural ingredients to clean up blood like vinegar, baking soda, lemon and saliva (yep) rather than harsh cleaning agents like ammonia. Not to mention than a good flush of cold water can often do the trick... Keep reading for our expertise.

How to remove blood stains from sheets

Whether you're dealing with a nosebleed or period blood on sheets, you can employ lots of different methods to remove any staining efficiently. First off, you want to run the stain under the cold tap, keeping the fabric taut and ensuring you don't allow any colored water to run over the rest of the clean fabric. This simple treatment might be enough to get the job done and it's the best way to tackle blood on clothes also – even if they are white. If this hasn't worked, take a look at the methods for dried on blood stains at the end.

clean bedding

(Image credit: Getty)

How to remove blood stains from a mattress

Start by gently blotting the stain with paper towel being careful not to rub or scrub at the stain, as this will spread and embed it into your mattress.

Water and salt: Mix 2 tsp of salt with 300ml of cold water and pour the solution into a spray bottle. Spray over the stain. Blot the area with a dry cloth to absorb the excess liquid. Repeat until the stain is gone, use a damp cloth saturated in cold water to remove any remaining solution. Dry with a clean, dry cloth. 

Baking soda: Mix 4oz of bicarbonate of soda with 600ml cold water. Apply the solution to the stained area with a cloth. Leave for 30 minutes. Use a damp cloth to rinse thoroughly. Use a clean towel to absorb excess and dry the mattress.

  • Remember that if you've invested in a top quality mattress, you can avoid blood stains ruining it altogether by investing in the best mattress protector for you.

How to remove blood stains from carpets

If the blood is still wet, first blot it carefully with kitchen roll to remove as much of it as possible and to stop it spreading. If it has completely dried – and it does dry quickly – use a stiff brush to loosen it, being careful not to spread the blood across the carpet.

Vacuum up the loosened surface blood, then apply cold (not warm or hot) soapy water to the stain with a white cloth. Blot and rinse, ensuring you are not transferring bloody water back on to the stain. This might mean refreshing the water and/or cloth regularly. Repeat until the stain is gone.

child walking on clean grey carpet

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How to remove blood stains from upholstery

Before you begin, check any manufacturer instructions for your upholstery. If you are unsure, and particularly for velvet, silk or antique upholstery, it might be best to consult a cleaning professional.

Start by gently blotting the stain with kitchen roll. Don't rub or scrub at the stain, as this will spread the stain and embed it into the upholstery. 

Then, using damp sponge or white cloth that's been dipped in cold water, carefully blot at the blood stain. Starting from the outside of the stain and working inwards will stop the stain from spreading. 

Next, apply some carbonated water on to the stain and blot up with kitchen roll. Repeat this process and only stop when your kitchen roll no longer has bloody deposits on it. Do not over-soak the stain or you may spread it.

Mix one part very gentle laundry liquid with four parts cold water in a spray bottle and apply to the stain. Scrub carefully with a sponge (a circular motion will stop it spreading), rinsing out the sponge regularly to avoid blood transfer. 

Continue until the stain is removed, then apply cold water to the area and blot dry to remove any soapy residue. Repeat until the soap is removed.

How to remove dried blood stains

When you're dealing with a dried blood stain on clothes or carpets, use a stiff brush (a toothbrush will do) to scrape off the residue, which you can then vacuum up. 

For clothes, sheets and fabrics, it is still worth running the stain under the cold tap (not warm or hot), rubbing at it with your fingers to loosen it. For mattresses, upholstery and carpets, apply cold water to the stain with a white cloth instead. They try the following:

  1. Soak the fabric in cold water: Use water and rub the stain with a fabric soap or dish soap will do if you don't have any. 
  2. Treat the blood stain with hydrogen peroxide: If soap isn't doing the trick and the fabric is white cotton, you could dab it with hydrogen peroxide to lighten it. Rinse again in cold water, then soak the stain with a pre-treatment stain remover, assuming the fabric will allow it (check the care label if you are unsure).
  3. Lighten it with lemon:  Cut a lemon in half and rub one half over the stain. Follow this with a sprinkling of table salt and leave this to absorb for ten minutes. Take a damp cloth to dab it with and run it through the washer as usual. 
  4. Apply white vinegar: Cleaning with vinegar is a great natural way to clean off blood stains. Simply dab the area with a cloth soaked in your white vinegar then run it through your washing machine/rinse off as usual.
  5. Make a baking soda paste: A stubborn, dried stain may need more than just water to remove it. Make a paste of one part baking soda and two parts cold water, and dab it on to the stain with a cloth. Leave for half an hour, then wipe off the residue – if it has dried, you can vacuum it up. 
  6. Use saliva: Not just an Old Wive's Tale, using saliva is a quick way to remove blood stains and it's especially useful if you're out and about with no other stain busting ingredients to hand.
  7. Try saline solution: Another useful tip if you're on the move, contract wearers can dab saline solution onto the stain to help lift the blood.
  8. Rub the stain with aspirin: Aspirin can be used to make a stain removing paste. Crush up some pills and mix the powder with a little water to make a paste that can be applied to the blood stain

Once the stain has gone (mostly) put your sheet or clothes on a cool wash, using an enzyme detergent or an all-purpose stain remover like Dr. Beckmann Stain Devils, which breaks down protein stains.

Do not dry the fabric in a tumble dryer or beneath hot sun if the blood has not lifted at this point. Instead, repeat the steps above. Drying a blood-stained fabric with heat will simply set the stain. If the stain has lifted completely then leave it to dry in sunshine.

If you're treating upholstery that can't be removed, your carpet or a mattress, let it air dry.

clean white bed linen

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Expert tips on how to clean blood stains

Melissa Maker author and creator of Clean My Space has an interesting but effective solution for dry blood stains,: 'Toothpaste and saliva. Use toothpaste on fabrics that can be washed in a washing machine or by hand. Apply toothpaste to the blood stain and let it dry. Rinse with cold water. You’re probably wondering about saliva… Believe it or not, the enzymes in saliva which help digest your food can also break down proteins in blood. It might sound gross, but you can spit on the blood stained area, rub it out and then soak in cold water. It really works!'

Blood stains sorted? Now it's time to treat yourself to some chocolate!

Lucy Searle
Lucy Searle

Lucy is Editor-in-Chief of Realhomes.com, having worked on numerous interiors and property titles. She was founding Editor of Channel 4’s 4Homes magazine, was Associate Editor at Ideal Home. She has also written for Huffington Post, AOL, UKTV, MSN, House Beautiful, Good Homes, and many women’s titles. Find her writing about everything from buying and selling property, self build, DIY, design and consumer issues to gardening.