Be sure to browse through all the comments in this article below for what works and what doesn’t.
Also, check out New Pit Stain Problem You Tube Channel.
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— original article —
I’ve been getting lots of visitors interested in the topic of underarm stains. More specifically, how to remove them from your shirts.
A little over a week ago, I posted this article providing some information on the topic. After doing some additional research, I found these suggestions on Yahoo! Answers (but formated them nicely here for you to easily read). I have not tried these
personally, but would love to hear from anyone who has. In the coming weeks I’ll test some of these out and report back.
- Ammonia/Water: Dilute a half cup of ammonia with 4 cups of water and daubing the solution on the stain repeatedly until it is lightened or removed entirely.
- Take two aspirins: Crush them and mix with a half cup of hot water. Pour directly on the stain and allow it to sit for a couple of hours.
- Baking soda: Add enough water to 1/4 cup of baking soda to form a runny paste. Apply directly to the stain and work it in. If the stain is particularly bad and smelly, let the baking soda paste remain on the garment for a couple of hours then brush it off. Baking soda is very good for removing odors!
- Fresh or concentrated lemon juice: You may squeeze fresh lemon juice directly on the stain until it is quite wet, then add a spoonful of table salt. Rub between your fingers until the stain lifts. This also helps remove dark underarm stains on t-shirts and undershirts. If it is a bright sunny day, exposing the garment to the sun and allowing it to dry will enhance the stain removing power of the lemon juice.
- Meat tenderizer: Another one for Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Moisten the perspiration stain with warm water then sprinkle liberally with meat tenderizer. Work it is and allow it to sit for several minutes, then launder as usual.
- Salt: Regular table or pickling salt is a miraculous ingredient in many things, including household cleaners. Use salted water to soak stained garments; mix with white vinegar for a very good stain remover. Use with lemon juice – see #4 tip above.
- White vinegar: Mix a cup of white vinegar with 4 cups warm water. Dip stained garment in vinegar solution and scrub between your knuckles. If the stain is persistent, you may soak the entire garment in the vinegar solution for a couple of hours before running through a normal wash cycle. Check the fabric label to be sure it does not need to be dry cleaned!
- Oxi-Clean: This is a wonderful product for eliminating many clothing stains. Follow manufacturers directions.
- Borax: This is an old-time cleaning remedy that is still appropriate today – plus its a whole lot cheaper than some of the costly products on the supermarket shelves. Run warm water through the stain then sprinkle on a generous amount of Borax – don’t go crazy, but use enough so that you can see it like a good shake of salt on the stain. Rub it together with your fingers and then launder as usual.
Update – 8/26/08: Some more votes from a thread on Style Forum for rinsing with cold water & oxi-clean:
…The trick here is preemptive action, I believe. I used to get those stains too. Now I am careful to remove any excess antiperspirant from my armpits before I put on my shirts. When I take the shirts off I thoroughly rinse the underarms with cold water (I found a site online that had tested different methods and this was the best they found) and scrub them with a SprayNWash stick. In the wash, I use oxi clean. I don’t put my shirts in the dryer and I don’t run the iron over the underarm areas either – don’t want heat to set-in any remaining antiperspirant and make that evil permanent stain you are lamenting right now…
…Oxi Clean worked wonderfully on a number of my shirts underarm regions. A few of the more thoroughly-stained white shirts (with yummy yellow pits) were too far gone for Oxi Clean to work…
Update – 9/29/08: Found another possible remedy on this AskAndy forum thread.
It is my theory that sweat contains minerals, just like most tap water. When sweat, or tap water, evaporates, it leaves the mineral deposits behind. This is why bleach doesn’t remove it, because it isn’t a stain. If you hold one of your stained shirts up to the light, you will see that it looks like a deposit of material there.
I use products like CLR (calcium,lime,rust remover) with good success. I prefer the Zep brand stuff sold at Home Depot.
Update – 01/15/2010: A friend of my purchased The Encyclopedia of Men’s Clothing (says it’s amazing) from AskAndyAboutClothes.com and his book has a section about removing stains, perspiration and prevention. Here’s what it says:
Use denture cleaning tablets! Fill a basin with water and add one or two tablets. Let the tablets dissolve and then soak the garment until the yellow is gone.
Perspiration, if allowed to stay in fabric, will eventually permanently stain and weaken the fabric. Aluminum chlorides in antiperspirants can also stain and weaken fabric. Controlled use of antiperspirants and laundering shirts immediately after wear can minimize the damage.
1. If the stains are fresh, soak the shirt in ammonia for 30 minutes then wash.
2. If they are older stains, try soaking in vinegar first. If that doesn’t do it, try heated white vinegar and borax or non-chlorine bleach. Old stains are more difficult to treat because they have been set, particularly from being heated in the dryer.
You can also soak the shirt in a 50-50 mix of hydrogen peroxide and water for 30 minutes, then wash. And you can put liquid laundry detergent right on the stain, leave it for five to ten minutes, then wash.
Launder shirts in the hottest water safe for the fabric, using an enzyme detergent or a detergent with bleach alternative (check care labels to be sure this is okay).
Bleach and/or baking soda may set yellow perspiration/deodorant stains on the underarms of shirts.
Let deodorant dry before you put on your shirt. See the Deodorant or Antiperspirant in the Grooming Chapter, under Skin Care.
And don’t let stains sit! Apply pre-wash spray or liquid detergent ASAP, and then launder. Use the hottest water safe for the garment.
Wearing an undershirt can also help keep stains off your shirts. Wear a T-shirt or V-neck, any undershirt that covers the underarms, not a tank top. They’re comfortable and present a better appearance under a sheer dress shirt.
Sites That Link to this Post
- Ask Tug: Wanna Know the Secret to Keeping Your Undershirts Their Whitest and Brightest Without Using Bleach? | The Undershirt Guy Blog | June 5, 2009
- Ask Tug: Where can I find a comfortable Undershirt that keeps out the sweat stains? | The Undershirt Guy Blog | January 15, 2009
- Axe Gel Deodorant ruining-staining undershirts? | The Undershirt Guy Blog | July 29, 2008