We’ve got some good news and some bad news. Let’s start with the bad, because we like to save the best for last: You’ll be dealing with your period for a long, long time—and over the course of that long, long time, you will stain, well, just about everything it’s possible to stain. But the good news is that menstrual accidents get less embarrassing the older you get (you know, age and all that)! And the even better news is that there are a ton of great things you can do to fix (and even totally prevent) them. Like…
Employ this (insanely simple!) first line of defense.
When it comes to removing blood-based stains, especially from items made of lightweight fabric like underwear, PJ bottoms, or sheets, first try holding the stained area taut under cold running water—you’ll be amazed at how much stuff a steady stream of H2O can coax out of a garment! Residual stains can be treated using whatever kind of soap you have nearby; hand soap, both liquid and bar, will work, as will liquid laundry detergent or a laundry bar.
Then up your laundry game with blood-removal products.
If you have a particularly heavy flow, you’ll be much more likely to end up with stains on the regular, in which case it’s not a bad idea to know about a few laundry products that are especially good at ghosting ugly blotches. Both oxygenated bleaches and enzymatic cleaners are all-purpose stain treatments that are aces on blood.
Or use everyday items you already have on hand.
Unfortunately, sometimes period accidents happen when you’re on the go (nightmare scenarios we’ve all lived through include: at school, during a recital, in the middle of a party) with limited stain removal options available. If you can find salt, fantastic! Plain old table salt and cold water do really well getting blood out of clothes. If you’re a contact lens wearer, you can use your saline solution to the same effect, which is pretty handy when you’re traveling.
Something stronger might be needed for older or more set-in stains: There are loads of common household items you can use to remove stubborn blood spots! For lighter coloured clothes, hydrogen peroxide or lemon juice are great options; just be aware that they can cause colour loss on darker items, so test them on an inconspicuous area to be sure they’re safe to use.
Two other super common items, aspirin and baking soda, can also be used to treat blood stains. As far as the aspirin is concerned, crush up a few tablets and mix the resulting powder with water to form a paste that can be applied to the stain. Same thing with the baking soda—just mix some with water to make a paste (how much really depends on how large a stain you’re dealing with!). Allow the paste to sit for at least 30 minutes, up to overnight, and then launder the garment as usual.
Bonus! Here are some just plain weird ways to remove blood stains.
This is where the fun really begins! There are two totally oddball things that will remove blood stains. You ready? The first is unseasoned meat tenderizer. Told you it was weird! It’s really good on older, set-in spots. To use it, sprinkle the stain with the tenderizer powder and add enough water to make a paste. Let that sit for 30 or so minutes, and then rinse with cold water and launder as usual. The second strange-but-true blood remover is your own spit! WE KNOW! It’s totally bizarre, but it really works and is a handy thing to keep in mind when you’re on the go and don’t have anything else on hand.
But what about my comforter, mattress, and mattress pad?!
Yes, those middle-of-the-night leaks sometimes make it all the way onto your bedding. Your sheets should be easy enough to get clean employing any of the products and techniques you use on your clothes, but oversized and/or non-launderable pieces like a comforter, mattress pad, or the mattress itself make things much, much trickier. Fear not! You can use the same products to remove stains from those items, you just need to know how.
For a mattress pad or comforter (or anything else that’s oversized but launderable), treat the stain just like you would one on your clothes and wash it. Note: You may need to take it to a professional laundry if your washing machine isn’t big enough. When it comes to drying, toss clean tennis balls or dryer balls in with the comforter to help redistribute the stuffing and make it nice and fluffy.
The trick with removing stains from a mattress is to use as little liquid as possible—you don’t want to saturate it, or else it will never dry! Pick any of the blood stain removal products mentioned above, and dab it on stains using a cotton ball or a clean rag. The key is to not soak the mattress; don’t be afraid to go slowly and use several applications. Then allow the mattress some time to air dry before re-making the bed. If you live in a damp climate, turning a standing fan toward the mattress will help aid the drying process.
And finally, if at first you don’t succeed…
Try, try again! Sometimes with blood stains, or really with any stains, you need to give it more than one pass to save your clothes. And sometimes you just have to try something different! The important thing to remember is that if a stain doesn’t come out the first time, all is not lost. Give it another shot, and when you’re done, treat yourself to some chocolate. You earned it.