There are a lot of annoying things about vaginal discharge – it feels uncomfortable, it can be kind of awkward to explain to anyone who might notice it, and it doesn’t always smell fantastic. But the most annoying thing, by far, is that it has this incredibly irritating habit of ruining your favorite pairs of underwear. Discharge might be harmless and normal, but it still leaves behind a white, crusty stain that is difficult to remove and often ends up leaving behind a sort of bleached look in the crotch of your undies. It’s not ideal! Removing discharge stains is also, of course, not as simple as putting the underwear in the wash (because why would it be?).
The worst thing about this is that an obnoxious amount of people seem to think that underwear stains are weird, gross, and abnormal – a sign that something is wrong with your vag, not that it’s just doing it’s thing. Remember the Panty Challenge? It was from 2016, a time when, for some reason, girls were snapping pictures of the crotches of their underwear and posting them on social media to show that their underwear was clean. There was a lot of things wrong with this (like, how could you possibly know if they were just using brand new pairs of underwear?), but the worst thing was that it contributed to the stigma that discharge is disgusting and not okay. And that’s not true.
So, anyway, we won’t get too off track. The point is, discharge stains are normal, and even if getting rid of them can be a pain, it’s still not impossible. Here are a few ways to remove discharge stains so that they don’t ruin your favorite pairs of underwear:
Clean ImmediatelyIf you notice a discharge stain, it's important to act immediately - like any other stain, the longer it sets, the harder it will be to remove. Now, obviously, you don't need to strip down to nothing when you're out or at a friend's house. If you're not home and you notice a stain, get a cloth towel (a paper towel or tissue will leave a mess), run it under cold water, and then dab at the stain with the wet towel. Once you get home, wash it right away. Source: iStock
Use Enzymatic SpraysBefore throwing the underwear in the laundry, be sure to spray the stain with a stain remover. An enzymatic spray - AKA OxiClean or Resolve - is your best bet. These will do the best job of breaking down the stain. A spray is the easiest thing to use. But it's important to remember that this kind of remover needs a little time to do the best job it can. Don't just spray and immediately wash the underwear. Spray it, then soak it for a while, and then wash it.
Soak In Cold Water Before WashingAfter spritzing the stain with a stain remover, you need to soak it in cold water for about an hour or two. This helps to break down the stain, and assists the spray in working faster, making it easier to remove. Make sure to do this before you stick it in the washing machine - that alone might not remove the stain, but soaking it beforehand makes things a lot easier. Source: iStock
Scrub With A ToothbrushIf the stain is especially stubborn or crusty, you should try scrubbing at the stain. An old toothbrush is great at removing this kind of thing. Spray with the stain remover, then scrub at the area a bit with the bristles. Then let it soak in the cold water. Source: iStock
Track Your CycleYour discharge changes as the month goes on, which is why you might notice that it's always worse at a certain time. Usually, it is heavier and thicker at the beginning and end of your cycle. When you're ovulating and afterwards, it is typically more watery and clear. Of course, this could vary. Spend a month or two keeping track of your discharge each day so you can figure out a pattern. While this won't stop your discharge or get rid of a stain, it's a good way to make sure you're not wearing your new underwear on the days it's supposed to be heavy! Source: iStock
Rinse Your Underwear Every Time You Take It OffAgain, the best way to remove stains is to attack them right away. And even if you don't notice a stain, it could just be developing - sometimes it seems fine, and you'll notice something later on. If you want to be safe, just rinse the underwear under cold water every time you take it off, then hang it to dry. Source: iStock
Wear Panty LinersIf you have a lot of discharge, and you want to try to prevent the stains, you can do that by wearing panty liners. They're super thin and comfortable and will act as a barrier. But beware: panty liners can sometimes cause infections when worn every day because they kind of suffocate your vag. Wearing them every day isn't a great idea, so maybe only do it when you have to.