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Brain Bleach (a.k.a Mind Bleach or Eye Bleach) is a fictitious product referenced in reaction to someone else’s post containing undesirable online content. Often presented as a cure-all for unpleasant memories or online experiences, Brain Bleach may be served as parodical images of an actual detergent bottle or photographs of beautiful models or cute animals as to reduce the effect of trauma. See also: What Has Been Seen Cannot Be Unseen.
The metaphor of bleaching one’s brain has been previously illustrated in popular TV shows and films through colloquial expressions like “poking one’s eye out” or “flossing one’s brain.” Such phrases have been quoted on numerous occasions through popular TV sitcoms like Cheers, Fraiser and Friends in the 1990s.
“Pardon me. I’ve got to go poke out my mind’s eye.”
--Frasier Crane, Frasier, “The Ring Cycle” (Airdate: September 24th, 2002)
The online practice of sharing awesome images as a way to cope with post-traumatic stress most likely began on popular imageboards and forums where users are prone to share gross or shocking content, such as 4chan, SomethingAwful and FARK. The earliest documentation of the term can be found in a YTMND site titled “pass the eye bleach!” originally posted in October 2005. The earliest Urban Dictionary entry on “eye bleach” was submitted on September 5th, 2007.
Eye Bleach: a product used on the eyes when disturbing content, in line with internet rule 34, has been viewed and cleansing is necessary. steel wool may also be applied in severe cases.
“Damn it, the image of it is burned into my eyes!”
“Quick, use the eye bleach to remove”
A similar definition entry for “Brain Bleach” was submitted on November 1st, 2007, which was later chosen by the editorial staff as the “Urban Word of the Day” on June 28th, 2009.
The bleach product is often presented as a cure-all for unpleasant memories or online experiences, most notably shock sites or gross media like Goatse, Two Girls One Cup and Lemon Party. The usage of “brain bleach” is also comparable to that of Rule 34 and What Has Been Seen Cannot Be Unseen image macros.
Although the meme was initially referred to as “eye bleach,” it inspired several variations including “mind bleach” and “brain bleach”; all versions essentially serve the same function. On Facebook, there are several groups and fan pages dedicated to “eye bleach” as well as “brain bleach” and “mind bleach.”
A product used on the eyes when disturbing content has been viewed and cleansing is necessary. This version is only used on the eyes and therefore only serves for content that has been seen. The term “Steel wool” may also be applied in severe cases. A website called Eyebleach.com was launched on November 13th, 2007. The for-female counterpart website Guybleach.com was launched on December 24th, 2010.
Slight different than Eye Bleach, “brain bleach” is the only cure when something awful is thought to have been permanently engrained into one’s memory. Used when “Eye Bleach” and “steel wool” are not good enough, it removes bad memories and DO NOT WANT moments in general. The term has also seen minor usage outside the context of Internet culture, as in “I got wasted last night.”According to the TV Tropes article:
In the sporking/MSTing/mocking community, there exists an offspring named Bleeprin which is a mixture of industrial-strength Brain Bleach and Aspirin -- Aspirin against the headache, Brain Bleach against the Badfic. Also Bleepka, which combines Brain Bleach and vodka. Its application is obvious.
Similar to “Brain Bleach”, mind bleach is considered a type of mental palate cleanser and something to clear your mind after being exposed to something disturbing or simply having a bad day. It is sometimes used interchangeably with the term “Unicorn Chaser.”
MindBleach.org was launched on October 13th, 2010. Mostly consisting of pictures of cute animals and beautiful women, the website is intended to help wipe away the unpleasant aftermath from one’s brain.
Brain Bleach raised a peak in search interest in early 2005. General search interest in the meme began circa 2006 with the keyword Eye Bleach. Later in 2009, the term Brain Bleach began to yield some more interest, which was followed by the emergence of Mind Bleach in 2010.