Some of us may sweat more than others, but sweat stains are something everyone must deal with in their laundry. When white clothes start to get stains around the underarms, you might assume that sweat caused the stain, and that's only half right. The real cause of these yellowish stains is a mixture of the minerals (especially salt) in sweat mixed with the ingredients in antiperspirant or deodorant (primarily aluminum). This is the combo that makes the yellow stains on white clothes and discolors the armpit areas of colored clothes.
Sweat stains can be stubborn and may require more than one treatment, but you don't need any fancy stain removers or strong chemicals to erase them. Simple household solutions and ordinary laundry products usually work best.
|Stain type||Protein and chemical|
|Detergent type||Enzyme-based laundry detergent|
|Water temperature||Warm or hot|
How to Remove Underarm Stains and Odor From Clothes
Before You Begin
Test stain removers and cleaners, no matter how innocent they seem, on colored clothes before using them on sweat stains. Hydrogen peroxide, for example, is a mild bleaching agent that can lighten colored fabric that is not colorfast. Just dampen a white cloth or a cotton swab with peroxide (or another stain remover or cleaner you'd like to use) and dab it onto an interior seam, hem, or inconspicuous area to make sure no color comes off. If you see some color on the cloth or swab, use vinegar or a commercial stain remover that's safe for colors instead of the instructions below.
Equipment / Tools
- Sponge or toothbrush
- Baking soda
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Enzyme-based stain remover (optional)
- Laundry detergent
- White vinegar (optional)
- Chlorine bleach (optional)
Sponge the Stain
Mix baking soda with enough water or hydrogen peroxide to form a paste. Rub the mixture onto the stained area, using a sponge or an old toothbrush. Alternatively, you can sponge the stain with undiluted white vinegar. Allow the item to sit with the solution for up to 30 minutes.
Rinse With Water
Rinse out the solution with cold or warm water.
Do not rinse with hot water because it can set the stain.
Pretreat With Enzymes
Wash as Usual
Wash the item as you normally would, using the hottest water that is safe for the fabric.
Line Dry the Garment
Let the clothing air dry, then check for any evidence of the sweat stain. If the stain remains, repeat the treatment, as before.
As a last resort for stubborn sweat stains, submerge and soak the garment in a solution of one cup cold water and two tablespoons of white distilled vinegar, then let it sit for at least 30 minutes, rinse and launder. For white fabrics that are bleach-safe, wash with chlorine bleach to help remove the stain's yellow tinge. Once you know the sweat stain is gone for good, you can resume drying the clothing in a dryer.