The Definitive Guide To Gross Stain Removal

Including vomit, period blood and the dreaded red wine


by Zing Tsjeng |
Published on

Vomit. Red wine. Curry. Period blood. Cum. You name it, I’ve probably smeared, spilled or dribbled it onto my clothes. Let’s not judge, we’ve all been there – sometimes in one night. (Just me? OK then.) But with a little foresight, a bad stain doesn’t mean you have to chuck out perfectly nice clothes.

The crucial thing is to prevent the stain from setting, which is then when the staining material forms a chemical bond with the fabric and becomes impossible to remove. That’s why it’s key to treat the stain as soon as possible: even rinsing or soaking the garment in cold water is better than nothing. (FYI, hot water can set the stain, so avoid).

Then you’ll need some form of solvent to lift the stain, whether that’s table salt or a laundry stain remover. I prefer using a multi-purpose product like Vanish Oxi Action Powder, which can be used in the washing machine as well as made into a paste to spot treat stains. Whatever you use, aim for a light dabbing or rubbing motion to work the solvent into the stain – vigorous rubbing will only make things worse.

For super-powered stain removal, try hydrogen peroxide. It’s a safer, gentler alternative to chlorine-based bleaches. Conveniently, it’s also a disinfectant, which means it can help kill any lingering germs if your flatmate with norovirus is doing her best impression of Exorcist vomiting scene. You can buy it for cheap over the counter at Boots and other pharmacies.

Got everything you need and a wicked stain to treat? Read on for the best strategy to tackle filth.

Red wine

There’s that old tip about pouring white wine onto a red wine stain to neutralise it – but, seriously, why waste the wine? Brush a thick layer of salt into the stain (coarse salt works best) and then rinse with cold water after a few minutes.


Apply a generous amount of soap to the stain – shampoo, hand soap or washing-up liquid will all suffice nicely. Rub the fabric together gently, then rinse. You can also salt the bloodstain, as you would with red wine.

For really crusty, dried-in menstrual blood (hey, it happens), dab some hydrogen peroxide directly onto the stain and let it soak for 15 minutes or longer before rinsing with cold water or throwing into the laundry as normal. If you’re worried about the peroxide bleaching your pants, dab a test amount on a hidden area like the inside of a seam, and leave for 15 minutes.

If you really want to get freaky, try spitting on it: digestive enzymes in saliva will break down the blood. Maybe don’t do this in front of your housemate or boyfriend.


Dab the worst of the jizz off with some loo roll. Mix some Vanish powderwith water into a paste and apply direct to the stain, or use a liquid or gel stain remover. Give it some time to work and then throw into the laundry. Finally, make a note to hook up with boys who have better aim.

Soy sauce

Dilute some dishwashing liquid with water and spray it onto the stain, pressing it in with a cloth or brush. Rinse with cold water, and dampen with white vinegar. Rinse again. Still there? Dab hydrogen peroxide onto the stain, let it stand for 15 minutes and then put it through a cold wash.


No shame, ladies. First, wash the chunks (NO SHAME PLEASE) and other excess off. Put the garment into a large bowl, dampen with cold water and apply enough bicarbonate of soda to completely cover the stain. Squeeze some lemon juice or white vinegar onto the stain until the bicarbonate starts to fizz, and then rub vigorously with a cloth or brush. Rinse with cold water and then launder as usual.

Tea and coffee

Pour some soda water or white vinegar onto the stain and dab gently, before washing the item as usual.


Most curries contain turmeric, which can permanently dye your clothes. Move fast by pretreating the stain with a Vanish paste or dabbing it with hydrogen peroxide, then wash as soon as you can. If the stain persists, soak it in a solution of one part hydrogen peroxide to nine parts water for half an hour and then rinse again.


Rinse in cool water and then soak for 30 minutes in some cold water with detergent. If that doesn’t work, soak it in a mix of hydrogen peroxide and water.

Lipstick and mascara

Blot with a clean, damp cloth or tissue to lift off as much oil and grease as possible. Apply some dishwashing liquid to the stain and rinse under cold water. You can also spritz the stain with hairspray, let sit for a few minutes and dab with a sponge before throwing into the wash.

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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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