(Please see UPDATE at end)
I suspect that, like most people, I have a tendency to over-fill my washing machines with laundry, this applies whether I'm in Spain (as I am at present) or at my home in Scotland. I think this is partly an attempt at frugality in use of resources, from a 'green' point of view, also simple parsimoniousness. I have wondered occasionally whether my laundry was really being cleaned properly because although of course I use the recommended amount of detergent (in recent times I have been using a gel rather than powder tablets) there often seems not to be much tumbling going on within the drum.
So where is all this going, you may be wondering. Well, I bleed from time to time - occasionally from my nose and occasionally from other parts of the body - my skin scratches and gets damaged pretty easily and this has perhaps grown a little worse over the years, possibly as a result of the general weakening of this 'organ' (because that's what the skin is, the largest organ in the body) since I began to suffer from eczema 15-20 years ago, against which I make occasional use of a topical [corticosteroid] cream, which I get on prescription from my doctor, to bring outbreaks under control. In any case, I recently had quite a bad nose-bleed during the night and of course the pillow-case got blood on it, as did the pillow-protector below it and indeed the pillow itself - I noticed all of this only in the morning when I awakened.
I laundered the pillow-case and the pillow-protector the next day, as part of a[n over-]full load of laundry and the stains were not completely removed - I was planning to buy some more of both to replace them in due course, but have plenty spares so it was not an urgent matter. However, yesterday I was changing all my bed-linen and when putting on fresh linen a cut on my finger which had happened earlier in the day (*) began to bleed again quite badly and I got several spots of blood on the new top-sheet. This morning I decided to launder that sheet right away, perhaps before the blood would have a chance to 'set' and I also included an offending pillow-case and the pillow-protector from a previous unsuccessful wash, and very few other items. As the drum of the machine was much less congested than it usually is I think the washing-action must have performed a lot better than usual, because ALL the blood-stains are now gone, including what I thought were most probably 'set' stains on the pillow-protector and pillow-case.
Currently I've got the blood-spotted pillow itself in the machine - I've never washed a pillow before, I usually just replace them every few years - and will report later on what the result is. The pillow is polyester (I stopped using goose-down pillows some years ago as although they are comfortable, they can be messy and I think I was sometimes subject to an allergic reaction when using them) and assuming the filler is not distorted too much should be able to dry it naturally over a couple of days, but if I do have to buy another one, then so be it.
(*) That particular finger-bleed was on a knuckle, the result of carelessness when washing my stove-top espresso machine, which has a stainless steel and quite sharp-edged lid.
UPDATE (Wednesday 13JUN2012 13.55 CET+1) As mentioned earlier, I decided to put the blood-stained pillow into the washing-machine on its own to see if the stains would wash away. Well, I took the pillow out of the machine about 1 1/2 hours ago and am very pleased to say it is now pristine clean and the blood-spot is completely gone. Even better, the filler is not distorted in any way, so I have had it out hanging in my back patio since I took it from the machine and it is already almost dry and will certainly be ready to go back on the bed by this evening - of course the temperature here is around 30 degC today and there is a bit of a breeze with bright sunshine, so it is ideal drying conditions.