Cold water rinse – If you rinse them out in cold water straight away, they are less likely to stain (hot water sets a stain). The longer the blood is left to dry before you rinse them will make them more likely to stain for some people.
Cold water Soak – Some find they get less or no staining by keeping the pads soaking until they are washed (eg always wet), Others find they get staining if they do soak, and have better results if they leave them to dry.
Baking soda – You can take your wet pad or undies (rinsed until no more blood comes out) and sprinkle the baking soda on the stains, rub it with your finger (or rub the surface against itself), and then rinse the Baking Soda off and the stain will usually disappear.
Sunlight – Hanging your pads and underwear out in the sunlight can help fade any stains
Used pads and underwear left unrinsed and unwashed, and even left soaking, can get smelly if you’re not careful. So some tips for avoiding odour are:
Rinsing – As with avoiding stains, the number one tip is to rinse as much of the blood out as possible, as soon as you can after use. Always use cold water. Rinsing before you soak or wash them, and also when you change the water, can avoid the water getting smelly.
Now if you’re just avoiding smelly pads, it’s best to wash them the same day, don’t soak them, but pop them in your wash bag and wash on a gentle cycle in your washing machine with your regular wash. Or hand wash and rinse well. (remembering to discard the water at each stage on the garden).
But let’s say you’re dealing with stinking pads or undies, perhaps you’ve left them sitting too long or they’ve been soaking too long and are now a bit... ahem... ripe, move on to the next step.
Add something to the soaking water – Adding a little teatree essential oil (or white vinegar or baking soda) in the bucket you soak them can help kill the bacteria that cause the smell, and mask any smell.
Change the soaking water – Change the water frequently (every day). You’ll probably need to change it more in summer than you do in winter or if you live in a hot climate. Remember the water is great for the garden.
Avoid bleach – while it does work well, your pads and undies will fade and it can degrade the fibres.
After soaking, rinse them out again, and/or pop them in the washing machine in your wash bag or using a delicates cycle with a little more of your disinfecting stuff and hang them outside in the sunlight to dry. If there is still a trace of odour, you can repeat the soaking/machine washing and that should take care of it.
There are probably other methods for washing and stain removal that people use. Interestingly, what works for one person might not work for another. Also, it seems some people have more trouble with staining than others – so different people’s blood seems to stain more than others.
For years I did the soak method, but I frequently left pads soaking too long and I got sick of dealing with a smelly container of pads and undies. So now I’m a fan of rinsing them out straight away or when I get home - then wringing gently and letting them dry/ semi dry over the shower rail or laundry spout and then putting them in my next load of washing.
If I’ve worn them out of the house or it’s been a light flow day and the blood has dried, I soak them for a bit - just up to an hour - to soften that, then rinse them out. If needed, I leave them completely wet, (folded in half but not soaking in a bucket of water) until I can wring them out or shower stomp them. I find for me this leads to the least amount of staining, without needing to use anything other than laundry liquid.