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How Do I Clean Spilled Precious Blood?

While the Eucharist and Precious Blood of Christ are to be handled with reverence, sometimes mistakes happen. A listener named Mary asks Father Dave for advice after her 9-year-old son accidentally spilled the Precious Blood on his shirt while receiving communion.

Mary explains that she did not realize it until the following day when she was doing the laundry. “When I took my son’s shirt out of the dryer, I was like, ‘There’s a stain on it, what is that?’ And then I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, that’s Precious Blood,’” she says. “Normally with a stain, I would scrub that out before I put it in the wash. [But] I know that there are rules, what should I do?”

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Father Dave first explains protocols regarding items that regularly contact the Precious Blood during Mass, such as purificators or corporals. “These white linen elements that we use in and around the altar are washed, but they are washed with care,” he says. “When we’re talking about using red wine, one does need to make some effort and sometimes use cleaning solutions.”

He continues, “Those folks that work every time we have Mass to clean the purificators and the corporals aren’t doing anything special necessarily. They’re not burning them and they didn’t find some special holy water somewhere. They’re cleaning them like anybody else would clean them, but doing it with reverence and care.” 

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That means that these items are often washed in a sacrarium, a special sink in the sacristy that drains directly into the ground, rather than into the sewer system. If Mary’s situation would happen again, Father Dave suggests, “Maybe you could wash it outside, for instance, near the grass or the flowers so that any of that water is going off into the earth. That’s the level of care and reverence that is taken every day by those who are in the sacristy, so I believe we could be satisfied with that level.”

However, because Mary unknowingly ran her son’s shirt through the washer and dryer before realizing there was Precious Blood on it, Father Dave says this advice would be for the future since “the train has left the station.” He adds, “Now that you’ve already run it through the laundry, I wouldn’t be too worried about how hard you scrub after the fact.”