How to get period stains out of your clothes, from someone with experience

Words by Samantha Hogan

Because we’ve all been there.

As someone with irregular periods, I’ve experienced my fair share of surprise visits from Aunt Flo. I’ve tried period tracking apps, eating a balanced diet, and creating regular routines but she always seems to come as she pleases.

Unfortunately, this has meant I’ve had to deal with a few disasters along the way. From a bright red polka dot on the back of my old school dress, to an accidental smear on my cream sharehouse couch. You name it, I’ve probably experienced it.

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The worst situation I can recall was when I leaked on a Tinder date’s white sheets. I was so embarrassed that while he took his morning shower, I picked at an old scab to make it bleed and blamed it on that. Leakage paranoia is real.

The only benefit of my stubbornly irregular crimson tide is that I’ve become extremely equipped to deal with menstrual mishaps (and no, I don’t advise anyone to pick at an old scab). Period stains only get worse with time. So instead of temporary measures like tying a jumper around your waist or placing a pillow on top of a stain until your Hinge hottie leaves the room, act quickly.

But no situation is the same and sometimes you may not be able to drop everything to clean your knickers, so here are some tips for removing both fresh blood and those more troublesome dry stains from your garments.

How do I get fresh stains out of my clothes?

You’ll want to start by removing any excess blood from the top of the stain with a scraping tool such as a blunt knife or spatula. You want to work with as little blood as possible to avoid spreading the stain.

Then you need to run cold water through the backside of the stained area. Keeping the water cool ensures that the stain won’t set into the material. The water pressure alone should remove the bulk of the stain. If the water doesn’t fully dissolve the spot, you can apply something heavier to the area. This is where your everyday liquid detergent can come in handy.

Lather the already dampened area in a detergent and gently massage the stain for two minutes. This should loosen the stain from the fabric. Next, flush the soapy area with cold water. Repeat this process until you’re satisfied with the result.

What do I do if it’s an older stain?

Much like fresh blood, scrape any loosely attached dry blood from the surface of the garment and rinse the area of concern with cold water. You’ll then need to soak the affected area on the fabric for an hour to break down the blood. Replace the water if it becomes murky.

After soaking the stain, take a microfibre cloth, dip it in some white vinegar and blot the area then flush with cold water and repeat. If the spot still needs work, rub some liquid detergent into the fibres and gently massage the area until foamy, then soak the stain overnight in a cold soapy bath. Post-soak, if the stain has vanished, you have permission to throw your garment into your regular wash.

For more on getting nasty stains out of your clothes, head here.

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