~ Sex is messy, there’s no denying that. The memory might stay hot and heavy in your mind, but a physical reminder of things on your one good sheet set is not. Whether it’s a lube stain or bodily fluid, you’ll want to clean things up ASAP for hygiene and general peace of mind.
Luckily, we consulted the experts: William Cotter, CEO of HappyCleans, Mary Gagliardi, Clorox‘s in-house cleaning and laundry expert, Patrick Janis, VP of Safety and Compliance of Aftermath trauma cleaning and biohazard removal, and Ben Soreff, of House to Home Organizing, for the low down on how to get rid of any sex stain you might have.
For semen stains:
Your method of attack when it comes to semen stains is going to depend on how old of a stain it is, according to Cotter. For stains that are fresh, he recommends pre-treating with Spray N’ Wash and then washing as normal.
For any stains that are older than a day, Cotter says to use a bar of Fels Naptha soap. “Simply wet the stain, put some soap on it, and then scrub it again with an (old) toothbrush,” he recommends. After that, pre-treat with Spray N’ Wash and toss in the laundry as normal.
Something else to keep in mind when it comes to cleaning semen, keep in mind that you’ll want to stay away from bleaching semen as Soreff explains, because semen is full of protein, and bleach can turn protein stains a yellowish color. Soreff also explains that it’s probably easier to clean a wet semen stain than a dry one. He recommends using an enzyme cleaner like Nature’s Miracle (yes, the dog stain remover!) to pre-treat before throwing in the washing machine.
For semen stains that have dried, he recommends vinegar and baking powder or hydrogen peroxide (By itself! Don’t combine with vinegar or it’ll cause a reaction) to blot out the stain, followed by vacuuming. When you’re ready to throw the item in the wash, he recommends pre-treating with Gonzo.
For vaginal discharge, urine, and sweat:
Treatment for these separate types of stains would require similar course of action. Janis suggests using a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution on the stain and blotting out as much as you can before putting the item in the washing machine. You don’t want to use heat until you’re absolutely certain you’ve gotten as much of the stain out as possible, as heat can set the stain in.
Gagliardi says that she always recommends a cool water rinse before any pretreatment to avoid accidentally making the stain permanent. Once an item has been pretreated, it can handle warmer water.
For fecal matter:
First things first, you need to rinse away excess solids with cool water. Then, Gagliardi says you should wash white bleach-safe fabrics with the hottest water recommended on the care label (yeah, you actually have to look at it, sorry) plus a half cup of Clorox bleach. After it’s done, air dry and check it out. The stain should be noticeably improved. If it’s not, or if you couldn’t use hot water, you can repeat the cycle over again. If the fabric can withstand warm water, this would also be the time to increase the water temp to help.
For clothing you can’t bleach, you should pretreat the stains with laundry detergent that contains enzymes. You may have to do some Googling around to see if the stuff you’ve got in the bottom of your laundry cabinet has enzymes, but it’s more common than you’d think. Tide original, for example, has three kinds of enzymes, while Purex original does not contain any. To pretreat, apply the detergent directly to the stains, rub it in a little, and wait 5-10 minutes, but don’t let the detergent dry completely on the fabric. Then, wash the item in the hottest water allowed on the care label with detergent and a color-safe stain remover like Clorox 2. Air dry, and see if you need to repeat the process over again.
Gagliardi explains that for blood stains (period or otherwise), the best course of action is to rinse with cool water to get out as much stain as possible. It’s super, super important to rinse with cool water first. It might seem counterintuitive because we’ve been taught that hot = cleaner, but again, heat will set the stain. Then apply liquid Clorox 2 stain remover to both sides of the stain. Wait ten minutes, and then rinse in cool water. If the stain is fresh, repeat the process again, and then finally wash the item in warm water using detergent and another dose of Clorox 2.
Gagliardi also adds that this pre-treatment should also help for older period stains (because let’s be honest, sometimes you’re in a rush). She adds that there’s no need to dry the item between each treatment, so you can keep treating and rinsing, and treating and rinsing until you’re ready for good to wash.
Depending on the type of lube you have, you’ll probably have to treat each stain differently.
Janis says that for oil and water-based lube stains, your normal laundry detergent or dishwasher detergent and cold water should be effective.
For silicone-based lubricants, Gagliardi explains that since the the silicone is water repellant, you’ll need to pre-treat the stain on dry fabric. To do that, you can apply liquid laundry detergent to the stain and rub it in. Wait 10 minutes, then machine wash in the hottest water using detergent and any other additives you need for the fabric. Janis adds that stronger surfactant like a Tide-to-go pen may also be helpful for silicone-based lube stains. Whatever you do, Janis says you should be careful not to dry the item with heat (whether it be a clothes dryer or like, a hair dryer — we’ve all been there), until you’re sure the stain has been removed. By this point, you should know why.
For lingerie or other handwash-only accoutrements (like blindfolds, etc):
Gagliardi says if it’s a delicate like silk, you shouldn’t agitate it. She recommends a similar plan of attack for handwashable items as you would with machine washing. Use cool water to rinse any stains first, pretreat if you need, and then hand wash using at least two gallons of warm or hot water with detergent and any recommended bleach.
For stains on upholstery or furniture:
“Bodily fluid stains are protein stains,” explains Gagliardi. This kind of stain is best treated with something like Clorox Urine Remover, which is also safe to use for stuff like upholstery and rugs. The formula includes hydrogen peroxide, which as you should know by now, doesn’t mess around at getting out protein stains. To get rid of these stains, blot away as much liquid as possible with a dry cloth to soak everything up. Then, spray the stain, wait three minutes, and wipe with a damp cloth.
Bonus: Sex smell.
Janis says that even though the scent of sex might seem like it’s in the air, the source is most likely to be coming from the mattress. Shook yet? He suggests a two-step process to remove any odor. First, add a few drops of dishwashing liquid to a cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide and spray onto the mattress. Then, while it’s still wet, sprinkle the mattress with baking soda. When everything dries, vacuum any excess baking soda off and the smell should be gone! Voila! Easier than getting a fitted sheet on.