Underarm stains are tough! These are different from deodorant stains and happen because of a chemical reaction as a result of the acidity in antiperspirants. The more you apply to your underarms the more you are staining your shirts. Here’s some simple tricks to get them gone:
Prevention: On of the reasons you get deodorant stains in the first place is because you’ve applied too much of it. Try applying it in thinner layers and allow it to dry for 2 minutes before putting your shirt on. You’ll notice far less staining or no staining! If your garment is made of a natural fabric such as wool or silk, the deodorant can also cause discoloration to the fabric itself. Another option for prevention is to switch to a deodorant without aluminum.
Treatment for Deodorant stains:
Turn clothes inside-out when washing. The agitation in the washing machine of other garments rubbing up against the fabric and the open exposure will allow the deodorant to be removed much more easily. This is simple but it actually one of the most effective methods for removing deodorant.
More methods for stubborn stains:
(Success will depend upon how old the stains are and the fabric type. Some garments may require multiple treatments)
Apply stain remover. Any stain remover will work! Again, make sure the garment is inside-out. I recommend enzymatic ones which will eat the bacteria from sweat. Don’t use enzymes on silk or wool.
Vinegar or Lemon Juice: Soak the underarm area for 10 minutes up to a couple of hours before running through the wash cycle. The acids will break down the minerals in the deodorant allowing them to wash away easier. You can also add a cup of either to the wash.
Borax: borax can be added to the wash and it can also be made into a paste with water and applied directly to the underarm area.
Oxygen Bleach: add to the wash – works best in warmer temperatures
Salt: Dissolve salt in hot water and sponge it onto the stains. You can also wet the area and sprinkle salt on and leave for a couple of hours.
Use rubbing alcohol: rubbing alcohol works great as a solvent to dissolve caked-on deodorant. You can also use baby wipes that contain alcohol.
Hydrogen peroxide: works best for white shirts. for colors test for colorfastness. apply directly to the stain and leave on for 30 minutes. I recommend only trying one above method at a time to avoid any possible reactions. Check the garment before putting it in the dryer and avoid the dryer until the stains are gone. Dry it in the sun if possible which will help draw out the stains and keep them from setting.
For Perspiration Stains:
these are different from deodorant stains and happen because of a chemical reaction as a result of the acidity in antiperspirants. The more you apply to your underarms the more you are staining your shirts (applying more does not help with sweating more either!) Success will depend upon how old the stains are and the fabric type. Some garments may require multiple treatments.
Meat Tenderizer: I haven’t tried this one yet, but I’m told it works well! Just wet the area with water and sprinkle meat tenderizer on. Leave for 30 minutes and launder normally.
Aspirin: Crush two aspirin, dissolve in a cup of warm water and apply to the affected area. Let it sit for a couple of hours and launder. The salycilic acid will help neutralize the stain. You can also use less water and make a paste which can be applied to the affected area.
Salt: Dissolve salt in hot water and sponge it onto the stains.
Vinegar: pour or sponge on. let it sit before washing.
Baking Soda: Can be made into a paste with water and applied to the underarm area before laundering.
Oxygen bleach: soak in hot water overnight for really stubborn stains. launder normally.
A recipe for the worst-of-the-worst stains: Mix one part dishwashing detergent to two parts hydrogen peroxide. Add baking soda and scrub onto the area. let it sit for an hour. Launder as usual.
Once again… Check the garment before putting it in the dryer and avoid the dryer until the stains are gone. Dry it in the sun if possible which will help draw out the stains and keep them from setting.
What about chlorine Bleach? While tempting to use, chlorine bleach may actually make the stains worse depending on the fabric. It can react with the proteins in sweat and cause them to yellow more.
What about ammonia? Lots of places on the internet will recommend ammonia for perspiration stains. I don’t recommend it, not because it isn’t effective but it can react with a lot of things and it’s unpleasant to use and dangerous to keep around.