The sweat stains dilemma: How to get rid of those embarrassing patches that not only look nasty…they smell funky too! There’s no gender or age predisposition as both men and women contend with them from teenage all the way up to golden years. They typically appear an unpleasant yellow, but can also show up white, dark, black and gray–it all depends on the shirt color and fiber content.
If this is a regular occurrence you’re dealing with, the first thing to try is switching deodorants or antiperspirants. The culprit is likely that your body’s perspiration is reacting to the aluminum ingredient in the product being worn. Look for a natural/organic brand or try something homemade (you’ll find recipes on this page: DIY Deodorants).
Now it’s time to make those nasty blotches disappear! Below I’ve listed lots of effective remedies you can test, each using basic items likely found in the home already. These help tackle crusty deodorant residues as well.
For best results, treat pieces as soon as possible…the longer perspiration is allowed to take hold, the harder it is to get rid of the awful patch.
Quick Tip: To prevent them from stubbornly setting in, keep a spray bottle handy containing 12 ounces of cold water and 4 TBS vinegar. Shake then spray affected fabric and once fully dried, toss into hamper for later washing (check for color fastness).
How To Remove Yellow Armpit Stains & Deodorant Residue
Careful: As always, test a section first then watch that no permanent damage is done to fibers or dye before proceeding with chosen method.
- Leave delicate dry clean only garments to the pros. Give them a heads up when bringing the clothes in so they can pre-treat before processing.
- Who knew? Washing with chlorine bleach can actually worsen the problem on some fabrics (typically those containing spandex, wool and silk) since the chlorine reacts to the sweat. Results: the blotches look darker. Not what we’re looking for!
- Dampen the affected shirt with a wet sponge before applying remedy.
- Work in preferred spot treatment with a sponge, brush (toothbrush is ideal) or fingers using some pressure but with care to avoid damaging fibers.
- If a time amount is provided, that’s the minimum soaking period suggested. Otherwise it’s ready to wash immediately.
- Rinse garment thoroughly prior to laundering as usual unless directed otherwise.
- For extra caution, hang the item to air dry to make sure all traces of yellowing or residue have been removed. Re-treat if there’s still some discoloration remaining. Once desired results have been achieved, you can allow the garment to go in the dryer with a regular laundering routine.
- Household Ammonia. If fiber content contains wool or silk, first dilute w/water (50/50 ratio).
- Laundry Soap Bar (ie. Sunlight; Fels Naptha): Vigorously rub into the spot.
- Rubbing Alcohol: 3 hrs.
- Laundry Detergent: (Powdered) Make a paste w/water, apply. (Liquid) Smear undiluted across area. Overnight for both varieties.
- Dishwasher Detergent: (Powdered) Same process as above. If using a pod, dissolve in a bucket of water first then soak overnight. Careful with color fastness.
- Liquid Dish Soap & Baking Soda: Combine equal parts. 1 hour.
- Liquid Dish Soap & Hydrogen Peroxide: Combine 50/50. One hour.
- Vinegar & Borax: Spray w/vinegar to saturate the material then sprinkle Borax over top and work in. Wrap garment in a plastic bag. Overnight.
- Vinegar: Make a solution of water and vinegar (60/40) then sponge into area.
- Baking Soda & Hydrogen Peroxide: Make paste, 50/50 ratio. One hr.
- Baking Soda: Mix 50/50 w/water. One hour.
- Table Salt: Dissolve 4 TBS in 1 quart warm water. Soak garment overnight. For extra cleaning power, add 4 TBS vinegar.
- Aspirin (uncoated): Crust two tablets and make a paste w/warm water. 60 mins.
- Denture Tablets: Fill half sink or dish tub then add 4 denture tablets. Soak 12 hrs.
- Lemon: Take a cut half of a lemon, squeeze juice into the affected patch and then use the cut half of lemon to gently scrub the area. Can also douse with salt solution for extra power. 30 minutes.
- Vodka: 50/50 vodka & water mixture to saturate fabric. 30 minutes.
- Meat Tenderizer: Spray the pit area to dampen then drizzle Meat Tenderizer generously over top. 15 minutes.
- For very stubborn spots, stretch the shirt over a bowl, keeping the discolored textile exposed in the middle of the bowl. Pour white vinegar through the patch three times, then wash as usual. You could also try sponging it (hot) into the spot and letting it sit for a few hours before laundering.
- For White Shirts: Pour hydrogen peroxide over the blotch and let it sit for at least 30 minutes before tossing in the machine. Full strength hydrogen peroxide can “bleach” colored fabrics, so perform this on whites only.
Desperate, firmly set pit stains that just won’t budge no matter what you do? Soak in a warm dish tub with OxiClean (just a scoop will do the trick). Leave alone for the night. It should be cleared up but if there’s still some discoloration, apply the laundry detergent paste mentioned above, leave it overnight then check in the morning.
Quick Tips For Preventing Odor & Stains From Developing
- Try reducing the amount of deodorant used (just one swipe). The results just might surprise you. Get into the habit of applying it 5 minutes before dressing so it has time to completely dry.
- Once dried dust baking soda or Gold Bond onto skin–this single step can help prevent calamity from happening in the first place.
- Wearing a cotton undershirt, camisole or sweat-proof undershirt will provide a layer of protection. Also look for sweat block pads or antiperspirant stickers, these are thin enough to not be noticeable when applied to fabric.
- Going hairless is ideal since this reduces moisture buildup (and no hair to cling to), but if naked armpits aren’t your aesthetic: try trimming hairs shorter.
- Fashion Choices: Loose fitting garments made of natural fibers and in black or navy colors do the best job of avoiding & hiding this kind of yellow stain.
- If discoloration isn’t the problem but lingering smell is (even after clothes are cleaned), try smearing a bit of Dawn Original dish detergent into the pit area of the shirt, set for at least an hour prior to tossing in the wash.
- If body odor is persistent, attempt to strip all soap and detergent residue (as this can trap odors) from your clothes by washing (hot setting) with a cup of household vinegar tossed in (no other products added). Dry as usual.