Getting fabric from the thrift store is all fun and games until you see a questionable, crusty stain that seems very disconcerting. If you’re wondering whether it’s a semen stain and how you can quickly and effectively get rid of it, you’ve come to the right place.
So, how do you tell if a stain is sperm? The best way to tell whether or not a stain is sperm is to use a black light, which will cause it to glow light yellow. However, this can also mean it is urine and not necessarily of human origin (cats and dogs tend to pee on fabric as well).
In this article, let’s take a look at how you can tell if a stain is sperm and how you can remove it from various surfaces.
How To Tell If A Stain Is Sperm
You can tell if a stain is sperm using a black light. A black light gives off harmless, ultraviolet light that is invisible to humans. When absorbed by certain fluorescent substances, the light re-emits and makes the material glow.
You can easily find a handy black light in most craft stores or online for under $10. If you’ve watched any crime shows before, then you’ll know that a black light can come in quite handy if you want to identify a sperm stain.
Although semen doesn’t glow like a glow-in-the-dark sticker, it fluoresces when exposed to UV light, and if the stain is semen, you’ll see the light yellow color reflected back.
First, you should investigate a piece of fabric in normal light to see all the visible spots for stains. A black light can only cover a few small spots at a time, so using your eyes to identify all the stains first will really save a lot of time later.
If you see a stain that you want to investigate further, hold a black light about 6 inches away from the stain. If the stain glows with a light yellow color, then it is likely to be bodily fluids, usually semen or urine. However, the origin can also be from animals such as cats and dogs, so don’t immediately assume it’s of human origin.
You don’t have to turn off the light in your room for a black light to work, but it’s best to do this in a low-light area so that it’s easier to see the light being reflected back.
If you’d like to know more about how black lights work, here’s a great explanation from SciShow on YouTube.
Things You Can Use To Remove Semen Stain on Fabric
Why does it matter if a stain is semen? Well, it can really affect how you can effectively remove the stain from the fabric!
You should know that since semen is protein, you should never wash semen-stained fabric with hot water. The heat can really cause the protein to set into the fiber, which can create a permanent stain.
This kind of stain can be super stubborn, and it will likely stay on the fabric for months if not washed carefully. Here are some of the things you can do to wash semen stain from fabric.
1. Use Detergent
Laundry detergent is pretty good at removing most kinds of stains, and spem/semen stains are no different.
If the stain has dried up, you can soak it in a cold water bath mixed with a little bit of laundry detergent to loosen up the fibers. After about an hour, you can gently massage the fabric to remove the stain.
If the stain is still fresh, you don’t have to soak the fabric; you just need to apply a bit of laundry detergent and cold water on the stain and gently blot out the stain.
Then, you can wash the fabric as normal, but make sure to separate it from your other garments to avoid staining them.
2. White Vinegar
White vinegar is also a good spot treatment for semen stain because the acids found in vinegar can dissolve the organic compounds in semen.
With a clean cloth, pick up a little bit of white vinegar and blot on the stain. Then, you can gently massage the fabric together until the stain is dissolved and rinse away with cold water.
Then, you can run the fabric through a wash cycle using cold water as normal to remove the vinegar smell, and the fabric should be as good as new coming out of the dryer!
3. Boric Acid
Boric Acid is sold in most supermarkets under the name Borax, and it’s a good booster for your laundry detergent. This white paste works similarly to vinegar since its acidic nature can dissolve the protein in sperm/semen.
This method works well if you have a dried-up, stubborn stain that cannot be removed using any other methods.
To remove semen stain using Borax, just mix it with a little bit of water to turn it into a paste, and apply a liberal amount over the stain. Then, you can leave it on the fabric for about half an hour for the paste to do its magic. Then, you can gently blot the fabric, and the stain will come off.
Afterward, you can wash your fabric again with cold water to remove any Borax residue, and the stain should be completely gone. If you don’t have Borax, you can also use hydrogen peroxide, which has similar bleaching properties that can effectively remove stains, similar to Borax.
Keep in mind that because these are bleaching solutions, you should not use them with delicate fabrics like wool or silk, and colored fabrics may be discolored after you use these bleaching solutions.
4. Spot Treatment
If you have a spot treatment pen, you can also use it to remove semen stain from a piece of fabric. Note that most spot treatment pens use bleach, which can be harmful to certain types of delicate fabrics, so you should not use this method if you worry that it might damage the fabric.
If you are sure that it’s safe to use, you can apply the spot treatment liberally over the stain and blot the fabric to allow the stain to come off. Depending on the spot treatment that you use, you may need to wash the fabric before using it again.
How To Remove Semen Stain From Different Types Of Fabrics
While there are plenty of ways to effectively remove semen stains from fabrics, not all fabrics are created equal.
There are some fabrics that you need to handle with care, especially when washing, so let’s take a look at how to remove semen stain from a few different types of fabrics below.
1. Washable Fabrics
Any fabrics that can be machine-washed at home are really easy to take care of when you accidentally get semen stains on them. You can use any of the methods mentioned above to get rid of the semen stain, as long as you use cold water.
If the stain is still fresh, you should take care of it immediately to keep it from settling into the fibers. The fresher it is, the easier it is to wash out without leaving any traces on the fabric.
If the stain is already dried or crusted, you can use a stronger solution like vinegar or Borax to treat it before washing it in the washing machine with cold water to remove the stain.
2. Silk And Wool
Silk and wool are natural fabrics that can be quite high-maintenance to clean. Both of them usually require handwashing, and they are extremely fragile when wet and don’t do well with chemicals.
If you have a semen stain on your silk and wool fabric, then it does take a little bit of effort to remove, but it’s definitely not impossible. The good news is, if the stain is still fresh, you can wash it out with cold water and a mild detergent, and the stain should come off quite easily.
Make sure not to use any hard rubbing motion or wring the fabric too much – the fibers of silk and wool are very fragile when wet, and you may end up damaging the fabric this way.
If the stain has dried, you should not try to use any harsh chemicals (or even acids like vinegar) to treat the stain. Instead, you can mix a mild detergent with a cold water bath and soak the fabric for a few hours to loosen up the fibers, and then try to remove the stain.
Then, you can rinse the fabric with cold water and leave it out to air dry, and the stain should be gone.
Carpets are pretty difficult to clean, and in most instances, you’ll need to hire professional carpet cleaners to remove stains effectively. However, if you have a fresh semen stain, there’s still a chance that you can remove it without involving professional carpet cleaners.
First, mix some laundry detergent in a cold water bath, and use a sponge to go over the stained area with this mixture. Make sure that the sponge is not dripping wet, or you’ll make a bigger mess than necessary.
If the stain is dry, you may need to take some time in this step to loosen it up to effectively remove it. When the stain is gone, you can use a towel to pat the area dry and leave the carpet to air dry.
If the area still looks a bit crusty after it’s dry, you can use a brush to peel away the white crust and vacuum it away to remove it.
Mattresses can be expensive, so it’s always recommended to use a good quality mattress protector to help prevent stains from seeping through your sheets and appearing on the surface.
However, if you see some semen stains on your mattress, it’s still possible to remove them with a good stain remover. For your mattress, it’s only possible to spot-treat the stained area.
To get the job done, first, use a sponge or a cloth to thoroughly dampen the area. Then, use a stain remover to remove the stain, and use a damp sponge to absorb up the stain remover after the stain is completely gone.
Then, you can use a towel to wipe the mattress clean and leave it to air dry for a few hours before using your mattress. Make sure that the mattress is completely dry before making your bed. Otherwise, you may invite molds and fungi inside.
Upholstery fabric can be pretty difficult to clean, and oftentimes you will need to involve professionals to thoroughly remove a stubborn stain. However, if you have a semen stain on upholstery fabric, you can still salvage it using an upholstery cleaner or a detergent solution.
To clean upholstery, it’s best to use a spray bottle as you don’t want the area to become soaking wet. You can spray a little with upholstery cleaner or detergent solution over the stain and use a cloth to absorb up the moisture.
Then, you can leave it alone to dry. If the stain is fresh, it should be removed easily without any issues. If the stain has dried to become crusty, you can use a brush to remove the flakes and vacuum up the area to remove it completely.
Stain Removal Mistakes To Avoid
If you have tried all the steps above, and the stubborn stain is still there, perhaps you have committed one of the seven deadly sins of stain removal. When it comes to any stain removal, here are some of the common mistakes you should really avoid.
1. Using Hot Water
Hot water is not a very effective stain removal, contrary to popular beliefs. Many people think that hot water may help dissolve the stain, it’s not the only thing that’s worth considering.
A lot of stains from bodily fluids, like semen, urine, blood, or even sweat, contain protein, which can really settle into the fabric when they are exposed to high heat. If you are treating a stain with hot water and it’s not coming out, that might be why!
To be safe, always treat a stain with cold water, and you’ll find that the stain comes off much easier.
2. Rubbing At A Stain
You may not know this, but rubbing a stain may make it worst and cause the stain to become bigger than it originally was. For certain types of delicate fabrics, the rubbing motion can even damage and distort the fibers!
Instead of rubbing, try blotting the area to avoid damaging the fabric. Doing so will help prevent the stains from getting worse.
3. Drying An Item Before The Stain Is Gone
Laundry is an auto-pilot kind of activity, so it’s understandable that you would toss your clothing straight from the washer into the dryer, right? However, heat can set stains permanently, so if you don’t check your items before drying, you may risk keeping the stains forever.
Before you dry an item, make sure that the stain is completely gone after washing. If they are still there, it’s worthwhile to do another round of stain removal with a spot treatment before drying your garment.
4. Mixing Stain Removers
It’s also never a good idea to mix chemicals when it comes to removing stains. Mixing certain chemicals can create harmful gases and make your stain remover completely ineffective.
For example, a lot of people mix vinegar with baking soda, not knowing that these two chemicals are on the opposite of the pH scale, so mixing them together would totally neutralize both of them, making them very ineffective at stain removal.
So, before you go ahead and mix your stain removal, check if it’s really necessary. In most instances, using one effective stain remover is always better.
5. Using Too Much Stain Remover
Too much of a good thing is also never good. It’s important to use the right amount of stain remover so that you don’t oversaturate the product. Doing so can make it hard to remove the stains as well as the stain remover residue, especially if you’re cleaning something like carpet or upholstery.
When using a stain remover, it’s best to follow the directions for that particular stain remover and use the appropriate amount. That way, you can effectively remove the stains without leaving a lot of residues to clean up.
6. Letting Stains Sit Too Long
Stain removal is always the most effective when the stain is still fresh. If you wait until your next laundry day to wash your soiled garment, the stain has probably already been set, and removing the stain will take a lot of unnecessary extra effort!
After you’ve decided on the best way to treat a particular stain, it’s important to get it under control as soon as possible. Doing so will help prevent the stains from settling into the fabric and make stain removal quite effortless.
In most instances, if the stain’s still fresh, it can be washed out with just a mild detergent and cold water, and you don’t have to use any expensive stain removal.
7. Cleaning A Stain From The Center
You should avoid cleaning the area from the center. Doing so can create a risk of spreading the stain around and cause it to ‘bleed’ on your fabric.
Instead, you can work from one corner of the stain across to another. That way, you can clean up similar to how you would wipe a spill on your counter.
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