She knows more home hacks than all of TikTok combined, so how does Astar from Good Morning combat blood stains during that time of the month?
Astar can remember what it meant to be, quite literally, on the rag. “You wore this belt around your waist and it had a flap in the front and a flap in the back and you safety-pinned the rags into place. It was hideous,” she cackles down the phone. “Hid-e-ous. Think of a surfboard between your legs, love. A surfboard.”
That wasn’t the only memorable thing about Astar’s period. “I had endometriosis so it was just a bloodbath – pain, flooding, sleeping on towels, having to get blood out your undies,” she lets out a guttural, primal scream that once again descends into cackles. “Oh, I had very, very bad blood. In fact, there are times when I used to think ‘how am I still alive?’”
This backstory helps explain why, when I first emailed her asking if she wanted to talk about managing blood stains as a part of Bleed Week, she replied with the following almost-haiku:
There’s another reason blood is “right up her alley”. Having graced our screens for nearly two decades as the domestic goddess and craft queen of New Zealand morning television, nobody knows old-school stain removal better than Astar. “When I was being raised there wasn’t the 100,000 things for stains there are today,” she explains. “And all these ‘stain hacks you need to know’ TikToks are bullshit and I just can’t be bothered with any of it.”
Her solution to removing blood stains is much more simple than a Vanish 17-in-one or any kind of convoluted lemon, salt, vinegar and baking soda concoction on TikTok. “The thing that I remember that has stuck with me for all these years was that we used to soak our stuff in cold water, use Sunlight soap, scrub the bitch and then boil the shit out of it.”
Cotton? Soak it out. Wool? Soak and a gentle hand wash. Silk? “Oh, I have to pull the handbrake on silk because I don’t wear silk and I don’t own silk. It’s too delicate a fabric for a rough girl from Southland scraped off the streets like myself.” The key for blood on most fabrics, she reiterates, is getting cold water on the stain as soon as possible.
I ask her what the best approach is if one has bled out into a couch or chair. “Cold water,” she snaps back. “Cold water and dab it out. Dab, dab, dab it out with cold water and keep lifting it until it comes out, don’t put heat near it and don’t put salt near it.” Salt hacks seem to make Astar particularly furious. “This has always perplexed me because salt is a setting agent. Oh no! No salt! No!”
As for mattresses, a bit of forethought never goes astray. “Unfortunately a lot of it is just precaution,” says Astar. “You used to get these plastic things that went over the mattress when kids wet the bed? Well, I slept on one of those for just about all of my life because the blood would flood.” If you’ve bled onto your sheets, she recommends a deep soak in a bathtub or a boil in a large stovetop pan, such as one for “your jams, your pickles, your preserves”.
To get your sheets extra white, Astar has a tip even more surprising than hiding your keys and wallet in a nappy on the beach. “My nan really loved a frost for getting things white. You get your whites, boil them and all the rest of it, but if you want to get them really, really white then you put them outside in a frost. God, the sheets went like boards but man were they white.”
In a way, Astar’s old-school stain removal methods have come full circle. The other day she saw an ad for period underwear, one of the latest advancements in period technology. “To me, whoever invented those needs to get a gold star for excellence because that is less stress and less stuff for the earth.” Although the multi-layered space age undies are a far cry from her safety pins and rags, she was relieved to see her tried and true technique in action.
“You get to the end of the advert and what is the girl doing? She’s running it under cold water and wringing it out!”