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If you’re someone who gets a period every month or so, you probably know it can be an adventure. Going about your day while menstruating can mean making sure you have the right clothes, the right menstrual products, and enough water, food, and sleep to fend off some not-so-fun symptoms.

On top of all that, you also have to worry about going out in public and leaving your mark behind (not in a good way).

Sick of tossing stained panties after one too many accidents? Frustrated with having to lay a towel down before getting into bed?

Here’s how you can remove menstruation stains from bedding, clothing, and furniture in a few steps.

Picture this: You’re having a lovely night with your date at their place and you discover that you’ve left a little crimson gift on their throw pillow… Yikes! And, since this isn’t your place, you have no idea where the laundry detergent is.

No worries: As long as you can find some hand or bar soap in the bathroom, and the stain is relatively fresh, you’re in the clear.

A basic rule of thumb that applies to most stains: Cold water is your best friend! Although it seems counterintuitive, using hot water can cause a fresh stain to set in even more and worsen the problem.

Why? According to the laundry titan Tide, once exposed to the air, the protein in your blood clumps and clings to the fibers in the fabric. Cold water won’t “bake” the stain.

Do the following:

  1. Place the stain directly under cold water and get it soaked.
  2. Squeeze or rub some soap on it.
  3. Scrub until the stain is out.

Don’t even think about touching the hot water until the stain is completely removed. Also, do not put the stained fabric in the dryer — instead opt to air-dry if possible.

Dealing with periods at home can be a hassle as well, especially overnight, if you have a heavier period and tend to leak through your underwear.

Bleach is often the first line of defense against tough stains, especially if they’ve set in for some time. But before you uncap that bottle of Clorox, check the label for instructions on how to proceed with using such a strong chemical product on our knickers.

Be careful with bleach

Bleach tends to be a no-no on fabrics made of animal fibers such as silk, spandex, wool, mohair, or leather — so exercise caution, as you might obliterate one stain to then gain another!

Once you’ve got the green light from the care label, add your bleaching agent to both sides of the underwear. Chances are, the blood will quickly make its way from one side of the fabric to the other, and you’ll increase your chance of getting that pesky stain completely out by tackling both sides. Let the product soak for a few minutes before rinsing it out and tossing it in the washing machine.

But what if your favorite and now ruined pajama bottoms were made out of silk? For the aforementioned list of trickier fabrics, there’s hope for you yet!

Hydrogen peroxide is a gentler alternative to bleach and safe to use on some delicate materials. If you prefer to go a natural route (or are not anywhere near household cleaning products), you can also try white vinegar. This eco-friendly cleansing agent will lift fresh stains from your favorite pair of silk pants or wool dress with a bit of blotting and persistence after 10 to 15 minutes.

You can even mix the vinegar with soap or hydrogen peroxide for a one-two punch! No vinegar? No problem. Some other kitchen finds that can help you remove stains in a pinch are salt, lemon juice, or baking soda.

OK, but what if you’ve not only bled through your pants, but also onto your chair?

For a couch, love seat, or office chair, dishwashing liquid diluted with a bit of water comes in handy. The limitations of fabric from earlier apply here as well: Don’t reach for the bleach if it’s of a more delicate cloth. If you have any aspirin, you can also crush up a pill or two to makeshift a DIY paste when mixed with water!

While menstruation can add some frustration to your day, cleaning up after an accident doesn’t have to be a lost cause.

You don’t have to throw away every pair of undies or bedsheets with a stubborn stain. In addition to the myriad of menstrual products on the market to choose from, consider investing in reusable period underwear or clothing designed to free-bleed in from brands such as Cora, Knix, Thinx, and Dear Kate.

Alternatives like these and proper stain-removal habits will keep fears of leakage at bay — and should make you feel more comfortable and confident in the process

Also, your wallet and the environment will thank you!