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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

Instructions for fabric stains

  1. Use the knife to scrape off excess material from the stained area. This is especially useful for older stains.
  2. Mix 1 quart warm water, 1/2 teaspoon liquid handwashing detergent, and 1 teaspoon ammonia. Soak the clothing for 15 minutes in this mixture. Don’t discard the mixture.
  3. After 15 minutes, take the fabric out of the water. On the opposite side of the stain (the back side), rub gently to loosen the stain.
  4. Place the fabric in the mixture for another 15 minutes.
  5. Once the fabric has finished soaking, rinse with water.
  6. Spray an enzyme product (like OxiClean, Shout, or Tide To-Go Liquid Pen) on the stain until it’s soaked. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Older stains may need to soak for 1 hour or more.
  7. Finally, launder the fabric item. If possible, use a laundry detergent that contains added enzymes that can help break down stubborn stains. To find an enzyme laundry detergent, look for a detergent that has the word “bio” in its name. Some examples include Arm & Hammer Bioenzyme Power laundry detergent or Presto! 96% biobased concentrated liquid laundry detergent.

If the stain remains, consider laundering with chlorine bleach if it’s safe for the fabric. Don’t place clothing in the dryer until the stain is removed.

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

Instructions for upholstery

  1. Make a mixture of 2 cups cold water and 1 tablespoon liquid dishwashing detergent.
  2. Wet a clean cloth with the mixture. Sponge (don’t rub) the stain until the liquid is absorbed.
  3. Blot the stain until the liquid is absorbed.
  4. Repeat these steps until the stain disappears.
  5. Once the stain has been lifted, sponge the area with cold water and blot dry. This can help remove any remaining detergent.

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

Instructions for carpeting

  1. Mix 1 teaspoon mild, non-alkaline detergent with 1/2 pint cool water.
  2. Use a small amount of this mixture on the stain. Blot the liquid into the stain. Make sure you’re blotting and not rubbing the stain into the carpet.
  3. Continue until the stain is removed.

For stubborn carpet stains

  1. Mix 1 teaspoon ammonia with 1/2 cup water.
  2. Use this mixture to sponge the stain.
  3. When the stain is gone, place an absorbent pad over the stain. Place a heavy item on the pad to weigh it down.
  4. Leave the pad on until the water is all drawn out.
  5. Remove the pad and let the area dry.

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.