I Have Skidmarks! What To Do?

Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert and advice columnist. She'll be here every other week helping to answer your filthiest questions. Are you dirty? Email her.

Honest question: Why is that I can wipe my ass any way I want (toilet paper, baby wipes, old sock) and if I go back 3 hours later and wipe again I'M STILL GETTING SKIDS. Just to add to this: I've become super-aware of this problem, so when I wipe, I go crazy with it. I get it to a point where I'm skidless yet later on... BAM.

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I am going to attempt to answer this with as much dignity as possible.

The simple answer is that the skid marks are happening because you're not fully eliminating; if you'd not provided the addendum, we'd be here going through a whole tutorial on wiping, but I trust you when you say you're wiping like mad. But since we're on the subject—and please admire the dignity I've exhibited in not turning that into a pun—it's worth saying that those pre-moistened adult person bathroom wipes will, despite the significant amount of maligning they're subject to, go a good long way in cutting out or back on skid marks. It won't, of course, help in the case of folks who aren't eliminating entirely, but maybe not everyone is as diligent a wiper as is our skid-afflicted friend.


Those who are having problems with incomplete elimination should add water and fiber to their diet, and if the problems persist head off to see a doctor. It bears mentioning that I am NOT a doctor and so none of this constitutes actual medical advice. It may be that you're suffering from fecal incontinence, which can be a thing that's not at all a big deal or can indicate a serious problem. The doctor will be able to tell you what's going on with your rear end; the solution may be as simple as adding some anal kegels to your daily exercise routine.


The existence of "anal kegels" is mounting a fairly serious challenge to my resolve to remain dignified here.

Right then! Moving along to cleaning the skids up, this being a cleaning column and all. The thing is that of all the stuff that come out of us—blood, barf, sweat, urine, sexual fluids, ear wax—fecal matter is one of the easiest to clean up. Snot might be easier, which is probably why to date I've not gotten any questions about cleaning up a major booger accident, but I'd be hard pressed to think of another bodily excretion that cleans up as nicely as does poop. That is, of course, not to suggest that cleaning up poop is at all pleasant. It is not. And I would not ever try to convince you that it is.


(The parents in the audience are all, "Right, just wait until your kid smears a diaper all over his crib, walls, sheets, self, etc. etc. etc." I know. I'm sorry for your troubles?)

Basically, what you'll want to do with skid-stained underpants is to flush the area with running water if the stain is really bad, and then apply an enzymatic pre-treatment—OxiClean, Zout, anything made for pet stains, those types of things—to it before laundering as usual. As always, when working with the flush method, let the water run from the unstained side to the stained side to push the matter away from the fabric, rather than back in through it.


If you really want to up your game, you could start using a laundry booster like Borax in your wash. Borax is one of those things that is recommended for use in laundering baby clothes, because it's gentle but moreso because it destroys poop stains. And I don't know if you know this, but babies poop a lot.

One last item for discussion before I collapse in a fit of giggles at all of the juvenile jokes I wanted to make here and didn't because I am a lady: your butt hair. Trimming or removing the hair between your cheeks will help the skidmark situation greatly. However… some men find the absence of butt fur to be really uncomfortable, experiencing chafing, or a slightly slimy feel, or a razor burn-type rash. But then others, you know, they feel great about it! So I'm mentioning it, and then you all should take it to the comments to discuss amongst yourselves.

I am a single man, and I should not be this helpless. However, desperate times blah blah blah. Several weeks ago, I wore a pair of tan slacks and got caught in the rain. Thinking nothing of it, I threw them in the laundry hamper and forgot about them. Several days later, when it came time for my bi-monthly laundry-thon, I found that fungus and/or mold had made an unwelcome appearance on the slacks. Several washes have not removed the stains.

I bought these slacks new less than two months ago. I would rather not pitch a perfectly good pair, but cannot wear them in the current condition. Any advice?


Will it make you feel better to know that this is a pretty common thing to have happen? (Click that link, there was a happy ending!) (NO, NOT THAT KIND.) I say that because I really don't think this situation should make you feel like you're helpless. And yes, I totally have advice!

Before I get into it, though, I want to be upfront about something I'm fretting over: when you washed those pants, did you also dry them several times? Because if you did dry them several times, it's 98% certain that those pants are a goner—heat will set a stain right in. So as a general laundry tip from me to you, always check that the stain is gone before drying a garment that was soiled. Sometimes it's hard to tell if a stain has been entirely removed, in which case err on the side of caution and air- or no-heat-dry the item.


Regardless of whether or not you've dried them, it's worth a shot at triage so (1) fill up your kitchen sink or tub or a bucket or whatever vessel you can find that's big enough to fit the pants with hot water; (2) put some white vinegar into that hot water, or a color-safe bleach (if the molded item in question were white, I'd tell you to go with chlorine bleach); (3) submerge the pants in the water and vinegar or bleach*; (4) allow them to soak for 15-30 minutes; (5) grab a toothbrush (not the one you actually use on your teeth) and, while the pants are still submerged, slough at the stained areas with the toothbrush. Just be mindful not to scrub too too hard, to avoid wearing out the fabric.

Hopefully that will take out the stains! If it does, launder them as usual post-mold removal and wear them proudly. If it doesn't cut off part of the legs to make a stylish pair of slorts?


*Squalor PSA: Don't mix vinegar and bleach. It's not quite as deadly as the combination of bleach and ammonia but it's still no good, toxic fumes-wise. I like you, and I want you to live to make future messes.

Jolie Kerr is the author of the upcoming book My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag … And Other Things You Can't Ask Martha (Plume, February 25, 2014); more cleaning-obsessed natterings can be found on Twitter, Kinja, and Tumblr.


Squalor appears on Jezebel and Deadspin on alternating weeks.


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