We’ve all dealt with blood on clothing, carpeting, upholstery, and other materials. Whether it’s from a cut, a bloody nose, or your period, getting blood out of clothing, or other types of fabrics, requires immediate action if you want to get rid of the stain for good.

Here’s a look at the best ways to tackle those pesky blood stains and the tools you’ll need to get the job done.

Blood can end up on fabric like clothing and bedding for many different reasons. Period stains are often one of the most common culprits.

For fresh blood, run the stained fabric under a stream of cold water first. This will help get as much of the blood as possible out of the fabric before following the steps below.

Be careful not to use too much water since it can spread the stain. Always use cold water. Any warm or hot water will “cook” the protein in the blood into the fabric.

The University of Illinois recommends the following process for removing blood stains from fabric.

What you’ll need

  • a blunt knife
  • liquid handwashing detergent
  • ammonia
  • an enzyme product, like OxiClean
  • bleach
  • cold water
  • an enzyme laundry detergent

If the stain is still fresh, try pouring table salt or cold soda water on the stain and soaking the fabric in cold water. Then, launder as outlined above with an enzyme laundry detergent.

For non-washable materials, try borax or a small amount of hydrogen peroxide. If you have a stain remover like Shout or OxiClean, you can spray that on the stain to help lift the blood out of the fabric.

If you notice blood on your favorite chair or couch cushion, don’t panic. There are a few ways to lift those stains. The University of Illinois recommends these steps for removing blood stains from upholstery.

What you’ll need

  • liquid dishwashing detergent
  • cold water
  • white cloth

A carpet can be home to all kinds of stains. If you found a patch of blood on your carpet, try not to let it dry. The quicker you act, the better chance you have of completely getting rid of it.

The University of Georgia’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences suggests the following steps for getting a blood stain out of carpeting.

What you’ll need

  • mild, non-alkaline detergent
  • cold water
  • cloth or sponge
  • ammonia
  • absorbent pad

Here are some general tips to help make blood stain removal easier:

  • Try not to let the blood dry. If possible, try to attack the stain right away and not let the blood dry. The older the stain, the more difficult it will be to remove.
  • Use cold water. When cleaning blood out of any kind of fabric, carpeting, or upholstery, always use cold water.
  • Do stain removal first. For washable fabrics, don’t toss the item in the washing machine until you’ve completed a stain removal technique, like soaking the fabric and spraying with an enzyme product.
  • Be patient, and keep trying. Sometimes with blood stains, it can take more than one run through the steps to get the stain out. You may need to soak the garment longer, or treat the stain on your couch a few times, before you’re happy with the results.
  • Don’t put a stained item in the dryer. For clothing that’s stained, always thoroughly treat and launder before placing it in the dryer. Remember, the way a blood stain looks on clothing before you put it in the dryer is exactly how it’s going to look when you take it out.

Getting blood on clothing, furniture, carpeting, and other materials is inevitable. But if you tackle the stain with the right technique, there’s a good chance you can get rid of it.

To be prepared, try to keep the necessary supplies on hand so you can act quickly when a stain happens. The quicker you act, the easier it will be to remove a blood stain.