How To Get Rid Of Sweat Stains

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Don’t let yellowing pit stains ruin your favorite shirt. These homemade sweat stain removers get rid of them.

Woman wearing a t-shirt raises arm to reveal a sweat stain that needs to be removed

Sometimes, laundering doesn’t get rid of yellow armpit stains or the grimy sweat stains on the collars of your favorite shirts. Sure, you can hide armpit stains by keeping your arms down, and no one is likely to see the ring around your collar. But those stains are a sign that body oil and bacteria are stuck in your clothes. It’s only a matter of time before they smell bad, too.

The steps below will help you get rid of sweat stains on clothing, including yellow pit stains on your shirts and brown rings around the collar. To keep them from coming back, check out the tips to prevent sweat stains that follow.

How To Remove Sweat Stains from Clothes

Yellow pit stains aren’t entirely due to sweat. That yellowing is a chemical reaction between the proteins in your sweat and the aluminum in your antiperspirant. And, though we sometimes call the brown ring on your collar a sweat stain, it’s usually the product of sweat combining with skin cells, detergent residue, lotion, and bacteria.

Either way, they’re not a cause for alarm. If you have hydrogen peroxide, baking soda (bicarbonate), and dish soap, you’ve got all the ingredients you need to make these effective homemade sweat stain removers for any color clothing — even white shirts.

Other Ways to Remove Sweat Stains

If you don’t have the ingredients to make the sweat stain remover recipes, don’t fret. There are still several other ways to get rid of armpit stains and ring around the collar.

Bar soap: To remove a greasy brown ring around shirt collars, rub it well with a bar of soap like Fels Naptha or Zote. Or, if you have liquid laundry detergent, rub a tablespoon of that into the stain using an old toothbrush. Launder immediately using the hottest setting permitted by the fabric label.

Aspirin: Dissolve 8 aspirin tablets in 16 oz. of warm water. Put the stained fabric in a shallow bowl and pour the aspirin mixture over it. Let it soak for 4 hours or overnight, then launder the shirt using the hottest setting the fabric can handle. The aspirin’s salicylic acid will dissolve the bond between the stain and fabric, making it easy to launder away.

Liquid dish detergent and hydrogen peroxide: Stir 2 teaspoons of liquid dish soap into 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide. Rub this mixture into both sides of the fabric and let it soak for an hour, then rinse in warm water and launder as usual. The liquid detergent will dissolve the bond between the greasy stain and the fabric, while hydrogen peroxide helps lift it away.

Lemons and sunlight: To get rid of old armpit stains in white shirts, squeeze lemon juice onto the fabric and put it in a sunny spot for the day. The lemon’s acidity helps dissolve the bond between the stain and clothing, while sunlight helps bleach the yellowing spot and get your shirt white again.

How To Prevent Sweat Stains

Yellow sweat stains result from aluminum in antiperspirants reacting with the protein in your sweat. So, the easiest way to prevent pit stains is by switching to a product that only contains deodorants, not antiperspirants. Many people find the feel of damp armpits unpleasant, though. So, if you want to continue using your favorite antiperspirant, use one or more of these methods to prevent pit stains on your shirts.

Wear an undershirt: A simple way to protect your favorite shirt or blouse from sweat stains is by adding a layer between your skin and the shirt’s fabric. In cooler weather, that means wearing an undershirt but you may want to opt for a tank top or camisole in warmer temperatures.

Use armpit shields: Adhesive armpit guards can also protect your clothes from sweat stains. You can find them at many clothing retailers or online. In a pinch, a “light days” sanitary pad can do the trick, too.

Keep Underarms Hairless: Body hair helps protect our skin, but it can also trap moisture and bacteria. The warmer your armpit area, the more it will sweat — and that leads to more sweat stains. If you don’t like a shaved armpit, consider trimming the area to help it keep cool and reduce sweat stains.

Pre-treat Sweat Stains Right Away: The longer a stain sits on fabric, the harder it is to get out. So, make a point to pre-treat sweat stains when they happen. The easiest way to pre-treat laundry stains is by keeping a stain remover stick or a spray bottle filled with equal parts water and white vinegar near your hamper. Use the pre-treatment on stains then toss the garment into the hamper.

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  1. Thanks for all your helpful tips! What do you recommend for stains on the inside of shirt collars? Do I treat them as a combination of sweat and skin oils?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      That’s how I treat them. The liquid dish detergent and hydrogen peroxide combination gets rid of sweat stains on white collars almost immediately. For stains on the inside of colorful shirts a little extra liquid laundry detergent or liquid dish detergent usually does the job.

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