sex lives podcast

The Worst Way to Clean Up After Sex

Photo: Mark Leibowitz/Masterfile/Corbis

Every week, Sex Lives invites listeners to call in with their stories. This week, we empty the inbox and discover a truly harrowing story about a woman who kept her house-cleaning products way too close to the body-cleaning ones. Ask a Clean Person’s Jolie Kerr joined me to listen to messy sex stories and give advice on cleaning them up.

This is a partial transcript of New York Magazine’s Sex Lives podcast, edited for clarity and length. Leave a message at 646-494-3590.

We have a caller named Tammy who had a story just for you, Jolie.

I’m very excited for this.

My now-husband, when we first started dating and having sex, he was older than I was. I kind of wanted to show how awesome, creative, and raunchy I was, so I got this lotion that heated up. I put it on him to “spice things up,” I guess? I gave him a handjob, and it got really badly irritated. It started burning him. So I ran to my bathroom to get wipes, and I went to wipe it, but I accidentally grabbed the Lysol wipes instead. And so I Lysol-ed it off, and it was awful. We almost had to go to the doctor. It really burned some skin off. So, I guess that’s the opposite of a messy sex story: Mine was extra clean.

Oh my god. Poor Tammy. Poor Tammy’s husband! It really must be love, because he still married her after all that. She scalded his dick with bleach, and he still married her.

Have you ever heard a story like this before? How corrosive is Lysol on a dick?

I haven’t heard anything quite that bad. I’ve definitely heard about warming lotions having too much of a warming effect.

But even if cum or bodily fluids were on your bed sheets, you wouldn’t want to use bleach. This is my favorite thing that I learned from Ask a Clean Person: If it’s a protein stain — and protein means anything that comes out of your body, so if your lubricant has been mixed with body fluids — you don’t want bleach. That’s when it turns into a yellow stain, like when you get armpit stains.

That’s right! Maureen, you’re my best student. You don’t apply any of the knowledge in your own life, but you know it. The correct cleaner is oxygenated bleach or an enzymatic cleaner. The last time we talked, you came up with a mnemonic for that.

Jizz gets Zout, things with z’s get enzymatic cleaner.

Lubes are often mixed with our sexual fluids, which make them a combination stain. But if you’ve got water-based lube, you don’t need to worry so much about dealing with this stain. It will come out in the regular wash. You should treat them with a little bit of your enzymatic cleaner, such as Zout. If they’re very bad or very vast stains, if you’ve been traversing the entire bed, you might want to soak the sheets in diluted oxygenated bleach and water prior to laundering.

It’s when you get into silicone lube stains that you have problems, to the point where I tell people that, unless you are truly devoted to the use of silicone lubricant — which does perform better than water-based lube — avoid them.

Or have cheap sheets.

Designate a set as your sex sheets, or just replace them when they get to be too stained for you to stand. I have this ongoing, constantly morphing list of the worst stains in the world. The worst in the world is turmeric, the yellow-y spice that is used in Indian cooking and gives it that distinct yellow-orange color.

Turmeric makes me so — ugh. I’m Indian. I always preface this by saying that I am Indian, and I do not allow turmeric in my home. My aunties know about this, and it makes them crazy. They try to trick me. They will refer to it as haldee, which is the Hindi word for turmeric. They think, Anjolie is only half Indian, and she’s fully American, so she won’t know better. As if I’m going to fall for it when they call it haldee.

I will not let it in my home. Such a bad stain. There are some, like, ancient Indian secrets that I’ve been unraveling over the years, but it’s just such a bad one. And then there are what I call the purple-and-reds: red wine, pomegranate, blueberries. Those are all so bad. And then, right below that, is silicone lubricant.

So, the worst sex mess you could create would be to eat a turmeric-blueberry compote off someone’s body while using a silicone-based lubricant, atop nice sheets?

That just made my skin crawl clear off my body.

The Worst Way to Clean Up After Sex