Birth Linen Cleaning Tips

Here are some tips about blood stains on birth linens:

1. Stains come out if you get them out quickly—the longer they sit, the more permanent they become so have a soaking bucket ready to chuck linens into quickly at the birth.

2. Both hot and cold water set stains. If you want to remove stains use tepid water (not hot, not cold, somewhere in the middle) and get going on the stain removal right away.

3. you have to remove clots and mucous-y gel or that stuff just goes round and round in the machine and re-stains the sheets and towels.

4. Once you’ve run it through a cycle of tepid water and soap, take each piece of laundry out individually and eyeball it for persistent blood stains. Don’t put in dryer till they are out completely or you’ll bake the stain in permanently.

Work on the leftover stain by hand until it’s gone.

5. That Oxi-Clean stuff works well on blood stains. Peroxide poured on carpets and then mopped up with a clean, absorbent cloth takes out blood.

Some people put a cup of salt in the tepid water to wash the linens. It does work but this can corrode your washing machine if done too often.

6. My buddy Lisa Barrett takes a big Rubbermaid tub full of her own “birth” towels to each birth. When she gets home from the birth with the tub, she fills it with water and lets everything sit for a couple of days. Then she puts it through the laundry ready for the next birth. She’s got a house and I live in an apartment building so I haven’t taken on her method but if I’m in a house someday, will do the same thing.

16 thoughts on “Birth Linen Cleaning Tips

  1. Gloria, my midwife told us to use Murphy’s Oil Soap (the wood floor cleaner), which is made of 98% naturally derived ingredients, is biodegradable and contains no phosphates. I filled our bathtub with cool water and a cup or so of Murphy’s, let the bloody sheets soak for an hour while swishing around a couple of times, and then rinsed. Before adding to the laundry machine, there was absolutely no evidence that they had been covered with blood and now still look as good as before! 😉 Give it a try!

  2. I suggest that mamas have two or three large bottles of peroxide on hand….then we pour it on any blood spots and wash in warm water. Haven’t had a stain yet. I still want to try the salt water soak that I’ve seen suggested by other mothers and birth workers.

  3. My doula and 17yo got out all of the stains from my last birth with hydrogen peroxide and then OxyClean. Worked great! 😉

  4. I am a midwife and do laundry at the birth center where I work. Definitely washing promptly helps reduce stains. I like to throw stained linens into the washer as quickly as possible and wash on cold water with Oxyclean and Tide detergent. Our protocol is to wash twice with cold before a sanitizing wash on hot with bleach. Because of OSHA and state regulations we can’t have soiled linens soaking in tubs but a front-loader washing machine does a great job and reduces exposure to blood and other potential pathogens. The hardest stains to remove are always Betadine (I hate that stuff), olive oil, and meconium.

  5. I don’t use bleach or oxyclean, I just soak and then boil wash. They come out perfectly every time. I tend to tumble dry them on hot to make sure they are “sterile” so to speak

  6. I had a c-section… so i don’t know anything about this topic personally. I have found that a 30 to 60 minute hot water soak with Rockin Green laundry detergent takes every bit of blood stains out of my cloth menstral pads. You can’t beat that! I don’t even wash them right away. I throw them in with my cloth diapers (which I wash 2 times a week) durring the second “wash” cycle. My pads are pretty and I would not want them to get grose and stained up. 🙂

  7. I was amazed to not find a single stained item from my home birth! Not the towels, not the sheets, not the baby hat or blankets! Nothing! We now use all the towels we bought for the birth even though we figured they’d be stained and have to be packed away for the next birth. The mw’s assistant washed everything less than two hours after the birth in our washer and used our soap (Charlie’s soap). I don’t know whether it was luck, our soap or timing but I was surprised not to find any blood stains. Hoping we can be stain free next time too so I’m glad to see the tricks above!

  8. Here in New Zealand, it is still common for households to have a clothesline–I haven’t had/used a drier in my 19+ years of parenting. It’s amazing what stains will vanish with a few hours of pure sunlight.

  9. The midwives I started homebirthing with had salt to put in the tub ( early waterbirth days!) and any spots of blood on carpets or upholstery got a good amount of salt on them as soon as possible which seem to work well!!

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