For those of us with a female reproductive system, our period comes and goes within three to seven days, but sometimes it can have more of a lasting effect than we’d like. Depending on how heavy your flow is–and what type of absorbent protection you're using—you may end up with one of those dark reddish-brown-period stains. You know the ones: the spots that end up on your brand-new underwear or your favorite crisp white sheets and seem to last an eternity.
While period stains can be frustrating, there is nothing to be ashamed of; sometimes menstrual blood leaks, despite our very best efforts. The silver lining is there are ways to remove the stain on your own, without having to pay a dry cleaner and pray your favorite jeans will survive. To help remove some of the guesswork and pleading, we've rounded up some tips and tricks for ridding your clothes of period stains as if they never existed in the first place. Here are the five common household ingredients to remove period stains from your clothes.
1. Cold Water (Extra Icy)
Rule #1: Never turn to hot water to remedy a period stain. While a soothing, toasty bubble bath or steamy shower works wonders for cramps, it will set your period stain in your clothes and make it even more challenging to remove. When it comes to period stains, cold, icy water is your friend; it's the ideal base before applying other remedies. As soon as you realize that you have a stain, run your garment under the sink with cold water and get as much of the stain out as you can. This stain might be smaller or less intense once it’s been properly washed. Give it 10-15 minutes (which can feel like an eternity when it’s your go-to dress, we know), and then assess what remains of the stain.
2. General Stain Remover
From Clorox to OxiClean to natural alternatives, there's something for everyone. Spray or apply your preferred solution, let it sit and soak for 10 minutes, then rinse again in cold water. If your garment is a lighter color, you could also try hydrogen peroxide: Apply the hydrogen peroxide to the stain, allow it to sit for 30 minutes, and use a wet cloth or brush to gently rub it into the fabric. Finally, rinse with water.
3. White Vinegar
While white vinegar can be a bit of a pungent choice, many people swear by this common kitchen product for its cleaning prowess. Pour the vinegar onto the stain (some opt for the vinegar alone and others mix the vinegar with a bit of soap or detergent—it’s up to you!). Let the vinegar sit for 10-15 minutes, gently rub the stain with a wet towel, and repeat the process again. Throw into a normal wash cycle, and voilà!
4. Lemon Juice
Adding lemon isn’t just part of your detoxing morning beverage—it’s natural acidity can also be the secret weapon for combating your toughest period stains. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the stain and let it sit for five minutes. Apply a wet cloth to the stain, further rubbing the juice into the fabric. This method is best for lighter colors, as it could potentially create a fading effect in darker fabrics.
For darker clothes, regular table salt can be an excellent way to work the stain out. Just like salt has the magical ability to make stale movie theater popcorn a mouth-watering treat, it can work and remove tough stains and restore your clothes and sheets to their original glory. Okay, the process isn’t totally like salting popcorn: you make a mixture of ⅔ water and ⅓ salt, apply to the stain, and gently scrub into the fabric with a wet cloth.
6. Baking Soda or Crushed Aspirin
Alright, let’s say all of the methods above still can’t fight off these impressively stubborn stains—don’t give up hope, though! Applying a rougher exfoliant, like baking soda or crushed Aspirin, might be the heroes we need to break up the stain. Mix the baking soda with cold water and apply the paste to the fabric, gently rubbing it in. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes (but could truly benefit to more time, so no need to set a timer for this one!) and then wash it in the washing machine on your normal setting. You can use the same method and application with crushed Aspirin tablets as well.