Cookie banner

This site uses cookies. Select "Block all non-essential cookies" to only allow cookies necessary to display content and enable core site features. Select "Accept all cookies" to also personalize your experience on the site with ads and partner content tailored to your interests, and to allow us to measure the effectiveness of our service.

To learn more, review our Cookie Policy, Privacy Notice and Terms of Use.

clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

How to Clean Up Sexy Messes, From Dirty Lingerie to Stained Sheets

Illustration by Ariella Elovic for Racked
Illustration by Ariella Elovic for Racked

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Valentine's Day is nearly upon us, which means different things to different people. Some of us gleefully make dinner reservations and festoon ourselves in head-to-toe red and pink, some of us don our best black and mope about, and others are just like, "Oh god, this ridiculata again? Who even cares?" (That last one is me.) But regardless of whether you're celebrating with your sweetheart or all by your lonesome, here are some cleaning tips for just about everyone.

The Basics of Lingerie Cleaning

When it comes to intimates like bras, hosiery, and frilly, lacy nightwear, hand washing is ideal. It's not nearly as gruesome as it sounds, promise! The basics of hand washing are: Dilute a tiny amount (like, a teaspoon—really, that's all) of a mild detergent in a few gallons of lukewarm water. I generally recommend using the kitchen sink, but a bucket or the bathtub will work just as well for this. Put your soiled dainties in, give them a few swirls in the wash water to saturate them, and then allow them to soak for 10 or so minutes. Go back in and agitate them a bit more, then rinse thoroughly. To dry, roll the items in a clean towel to remove as much water as possible before hanging or lying flat to dry. Don't wring water out of lingerie and other delicates, which can cause stretching and other damage.

If you absolutely must machine wash your intimates, please employ a mesh laundry bag like this one from The Container Store. The bag will help to protect your underthings, keeping them from getting tangled up with other clothing in the wash. Choose the gentlest cycle available to you, opt for cold or warm water, and don't put delicates in the dryer—always air dry them. Should you find that embellishments like marabou have gotten sort of bedraggled-looking during washing, use a hair dryer on the lowest heat setting to fluff that trim back up.

Removing Spilled Wax

Maybe you enjoy candlelight dinners for Valentine's Day, or maybe things get kinda kinky in the bedroom. It's not my business! Well, it sort of is my business in that I'm in the business of telling you how to clean up stuff like wax spills. There are two main ways to remove wax that's spilled and hardened: either hit it with heat or with cold.

The hot method involves an iron and a sheet of brown paper, like the kind used to make grocery bags or wrap parcels. Put the paper over the wax and, using the lowest setting, iron the paper; the heat from the iron will cause the wax to melt into the absorbent paper.

If the wax has settled onto a place that you don't want to expose to heat, place a few ice cubes on the waxy spots. The cold will cause the wax to harden and shrink and can be popped off easily with a butter knife or spatula.

What About Chocolate Stains?

Look, some people choose to celebrate Valentine's Day by hiding under the covers with a box of chocolate. I'm not saying you do that, but if you do, there might be some telltale signs of a pity binge. If the chocolate stains are minor, i.e. smears from sticky fingers, apply a pre-treatment product like Shout and launder as usual. Just be sure to check that the stain came out completely before you put those items in the dryer, so you don't run the risk that the heat sets the stain.

If the left-behind chocolate is more substantial, remove as much of it from the fabric as you can using either a spoon or a butter knife (a sharper knife can cause puncture holes, so unless you feel like getting your darning kit out to make repairs, stick with a duller utensil). Scrape off as much of the dried chocolate as you can, then treat the stain as described above.

And What About Those OTHER Stains?

We're all adults here, so let's just get on with it: Sex stains, guys. That's what you really want to know about. How to remove sex stains.

It's actually pretty easy, you just need to remember one thing: Sexual fluid, regardless of whether it comes from a man or a woman, is a protein stain. And protein stains are best treated with an enzymatic cleaner, like Zout, or oxygenated bleach, like OxiClean. Pre-treat the stain and then launder as usual. See, so easy.

Now that you know all of that, get out there and make some sexy messes!