As someone who will be turning 46 in June (shout out to my fellow Geminis) and has made complete peace about not birthing any babies, I must say that every time the third week of the month rolls around, I find myself saying to my body, "Really? So, we're still on this period ish, huh?" More and more, I'm learning to just let things flow—pun intended and not intended—when it comes to things I can't control, though. So instead, as far as my period is concerned, I've been looking for ways to make it a little bit easier on me.
First up—if you want to significantly reduce your PMS-related symptoms, evening primrose oil will totally change your life. Next up—y'all, I don't know what took me so freakin' long, but I finally did get a menstrual cup and whoa. I am totally in love (if you've got a really heavy flow, I recommend investing in a Merula XL). And third, when it comes to those annoying blood stains that are pretty much unavoidable at times, I've found a way to nip them in the bud—quick, fast and in a hurry.
As far as cleaning hacks go, I will say that, more than anything, cold water is your friend. It's always a good idea to soak stained fabric in it and to wash your panties and sheets in it too. Also, until the stain is gone, avoid putting fabrics in the dryer; heat has a way of setting stains, making them close to impossible to get out.
Aside from that, if you want to be as chemical-free as possible, there are some items that I'm pretty sure are already in your house that are pretty darn effective. If you're ready to give a few of them a shot, I've got a list for you to test out below.
If you've got a delicate fabric that you need to get some blood out of, consider trying a salt paste. Since blood is slightly acidic and salt is basic, salt can help neutralize blood and dissolve the stain. The key to making it work is to soak the stained part of the fabric in water and then create a salt paste (one tablespoon of salt with two drops of water should just about do it). Allow the paste to sit on the fabric for about an hour, wash it, boil it in a large pot for 20 minutes, and then wash again. Yeah, this isn't the fastest hack on the planet, but I've checked around and a lot of folks think it is pretty darn effective.
2. Distilled White Vinegar
Something that's really cool about distilled white vinegar is it's able to remove both fresh and dried blood stains. Plus, it's inexpensive, much safer on your fabrics than bleach is and, it has the ability to remove the scent of blood on contact. This is actually a great remedy if you happen to get blood on your sheets. Just mix three parts vinegar with one-part water and soak your sheets in the solution for a couple of hours. Then, with an old toothbrush, gently brush the stain to break up the blood and wash as usual. In order to make your sheets (and the rest of your laundry) extra fresh, add another cup of vinegar to your final rinse. You'll definitely notice the difference.
Hopefully, I don't need to be super specific here, but what I mean by "coke" is Coca-Cola. All of the chemicals combined in the soda (and there are a lot of 'em) help to dissolve blood. Hey, if it can clean a car battery, should we be surprised that it can remove blood stains too?
For it to be truly effective, you'll need to let the fabric soak for 2-3 hours in the soda. But if you do, you should notice that at least most of the stain is gone after you run it through a standard washing cycle.
4. Baking Soda
If you don't have at least a couple of boxes of baking soda in your house, please make sure that you get some ASAP. Baking soda does everything from whiten teeth and freshen your breath to neutralize the odors that are in your fridge and your carpet—and that's just scratching the surface. Something else that baking soda is able to do is not only lift blood stains from fabrics but also remove the odors that it may leave behind. The main reason it works is because another name for baking soda is sodium bicarbonate which is a form of salt (and we've already discussed what salt has the ability to do). Since, like salt, baking soda has a gritty texture to it, it also is able to dislodge the old blood that has set into fabric. You can make this work for you by dampening the stained fabric, sprinkling some baking soda onto it and allowing it to sit for an hour or so. Then wash the fabric as usual.
5. Hydrogen Peroxide
If you've got an older stain that needs to be removed, I'm not sure if anything works faster than hydrogen peroxide. The minute you pour a little on the stain, you will instantly see the fabric get lighter. It works so well because hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizing agent. When it comes in contact with the enzyme catalase that is in our blood, it automatically turns it into a combination of water, oxygen, and heat (you can literally feel your fabric warmer up too!). Just make sure that you only use this remedy on lighter fabrics (because it will change the color of darker ones) and that you also go with the "less is more" mindset. Hydrogen peroxide is pretty powerful and has the ability to weaken fibers if used too often.
OK, I've tried my best to tell you how these hacks work, but though there are all kinds of links that shout out toothpaste as an awesome way to pre-treat blood stains, I couldn't really get to the science behind it. All I can tell you is folks rave about how the chemicals in it and the textures of it create a paste that, once it is placed on the fabric, dries, is rinsed out in cold water, and then washed per usual, works like a charm.
The important thing is to not put toothpaste on your mattress. The smell of it has a way of lingering for weeks, even months. So, unless you want to fall asleep on a minty fresh bed, use one of these other hacks if blood on your bed is what you've got going on.
7. Lemon Juice
There is something about the acid in lemon juice that, if you mix it with a little salt and rub it directly onto a blood stain, it will help to remove it. When it comes to this particular remedy, the main things to remember are 1) it needs to be applied to a fresh stain and 2) you need to use the combination of a half lemon juice and half salt. If you apply the solution, let it sit for 15 minutes, and then use a cloth that has been saturated in cold water to dab the area, the friction of the cloth should help to draw the blood stain out.
8. Meat Tenderizer
Even if you're a vegan, here's a good reason to have a bottle of meat tenderizer around. Yep. It's just one more way to get out blood stains. It might sound crazy at first, but just think about the purpose of using tenderizer—it's to make meat less tough and more tender, right? It's able to do that because it contains an enzyme that ultimately breaks down some of the protein that is in the meat itself. So, if you have quite a period spill on your hands and you wet the fabric, pour some tenderizer onto it, let the tenderizer penetrate the fabric for 30 minutes and rinse in cold water—there's a really good chance that your fabric will look as good as new.
If you've got a bottle of aspirin in your bathroom cabinet, pull it out; it is another way to remove period stains. How? Well, you've probably heard that some people take aspirin as a way to prevent a heart attack. It works because it has the ability to prevent blood from clotting. When you apply aspirin to a blood stain, the salicylic acid that's in it is able to neutralize the stain. All you need to do is crush a couple of aspirin, let it sit in some warm water and then apply it directly onto the stain. For the record, it'll need to penetrate the fabric for a couple of hours, but if you let that happen and then put it into the wash, you should notice that at least most of the stain is gone once you take it out of the washing machine.
It might sound gross, but just like your blood, your spit is a part of you so…it's whatever. Anyway, if it's a small stain, believe it or not, spit does work. The long short of it is, there is a digestive enzyme in spit that breaks blood down. Again, this isn't the solution for a blood stain on your sheets or anything, but if you got a drop of blood on your panties while pulling out your menstrual cup (or something like that), a little of your spit (sitting on the stain overnight and then washed in cold water), just might remove it. Definitely the cheapest hack on the list so…why not give it a shot?
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