Your favorite T-shirts have gotten a lot of love this summer, which wouldn’t be such a bad thing if it weren’t for the fact that the evidence is there for all to see. Crusty, sometimes yellow, and always an eye sore—pit stains can be a serious pain. To make matters worse, this type of stain—the result of sweat and aluminum-based deodorant—can withstand both regular washings, and standard targeted stain removal efforts. You needn’t bid your favorite apparel adieu, though—just follow our guide on how to remove armpit stains and it will be like sweat never even happened.
How to get yellow armpit stains out of white shirts
Your go-to top was once as white as freshly fallen snow, but now it’s showing sweat stains like none other. In the past, when things went awry, be it from red wine or tomato sauce, you were able to restore your top to its former glory with a little bit of chlorine bleach. Alas, this solution simply will not do for armpit stains. In fact, chlorine bleach will not only fail to address the problem at hand (or underarm, as it were), it could actually make matters worse. But don’t sweat it because there’s another treatment that will get the job done in a jiffy.
What you’ll need:
How to do it:
1. Make your paste. Combine equal parts hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and water.
2. Apply the stain treating paste. Slather a generous amount of said paste onto the affected area.
3. Scrub. Grab your toothbrush and give the stained area a good, gentle scrub such that the ingredients get worked into the stain without causing damage to the fibers of the fabric.
4. Let the treatment sit. The older the stain, the longer you’ll want to let the paste linger: Thirty minutes will suffice for fresher stains that haven’t been allowed to set with a spin in the dryer, while older and more stubborn stains are best left alone for 24 hours
5. Rinse. After you’ve let the stain treatment work its magic, rinse the paste off of the stain under cold water.
6. Wash. Proceed to wash the shirt per the care instructions with a suitable laundry detergent—either in the machine or by hand—and allow it to air dry. (Hint: Dryer heat is the enemy when it comes to stain removal, so don’t tumble dry until you know you have successfully tackled the discoloration.)
7. Repeat. Very old and stubborn armpit stains might require more than one tango with said treatment, but you’ll get there in the end. (We promise.)
How to get armpit stains out of colored or dark shirts
Armpit stains on dark-colored shirts might not stand out quite as much, but the crusty feeling and subtle discoloration will alert you to their presence, nevertheless. The above method can actually work for colored shirts as well. That said, hydrogen peroxide—particularly when it has not been diluted with water—can result in fading, so you should avoid it unless you’ve checked the fabric for colorfastness first. Better yet, just play it safe with the following alternative method, which is guaranteed to be safe on colored shirts.
What you’ll need:
How to do it:
1. Prepare your stain-treating solution. Combine one part vinegar to two parts water in a soaking bucket or bowl.
2. Pretreat the stain. Dip a sponge or soft-bristled toothbrush into the solution and gently scrub the stain. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.
3. Soak. Now, dunk the problem area in the bowl or bucket of vinegar solution so that the stain is completely submerged. Allow the garment to soak for up to 24 hours.
4. Ring it out. Remove the T-shirt from the solution and gently wring out any excess liquid.
5. Wash. Send the item into the washing machine or wash it by hand in the laundry detergent of your choice.
6. Dry. Again, because the stain may require more than one treatment, it is best to air dry the garment. Upon drying, evaluate whether or not you need to repeat the process and take it from there.
How to prevent armpit stains
Unfortunately, armpit stains are pretty hard to avoid unless you are particularly vigilant. The fact is that these stains are not the result of mere sweat, but rather a chemical reaction that occurs between your body and the aluminum found in most anti-perspirants. That said, the best way to minimize the damage is to rinse the sweaty pits of your T-shirt as soon as you take it off, thus preventing the sweat and deodorant combo from drying and settling into the fabric.
How to reduce armpit odor
You’ve washed, you’ve soaked and the stains are starting to fade away...and yet, the area still smells like underarm funk. Fear not: baking soda has your back. To address lingering body odor, a generous scoop of baking soda—either added directly to the washing machine or combined with cold water for a pre-wash soak—will work wonders when it comes to neutralizing odor.