Removing Deodorant Stains

It sucks when you want to wear your favorite shirt, only to find out that it has embarrassing deodorant stains. Good thing there’s a lot of options that can help you remove these unsightly stains, many of these involving simple household items. Whether it’s a yellowish stain left on your favorite white collared shirt or white marks on your navy blue tee, you can remove it by using these products:

1. Nylon

If you get deodorant on your shirt while you are getting dressed, grab a piece of clean nylon cloth (pantyhose, towel, socks or handkerchief) and rub it over the stain. This is best done on colored garments. It’s best to pop the item immediately in the washing machine so that no stain will stay on the garment unless you really need to wear that thing today.

2. Lemon juice + water

Citrus Citric Acid Lemon Juice Lemon Squeezer

Lemon has a natural bleaching and cleansing properties that can help remove antiperspirant stains on clothing. If your garment is white or light colored, soak the stained area in lemon juice then leave it under the sun for an hour. However, if your clothing is dark-colored, it’s best to do the same in a mixture of equal parts lemon juice and water. Rinse the garment and wash it as normal.

3. White vinegar + water

Vinegar is a common household cleansing product, and it is effective in removing deodorant stains, too! Its acidic properties can break down oil and mineral deposits in the stain, thus cleansing it off your garment. Pour a bit of vinegar directly to the underarm stain, then rub it into the fabric or brush it with an old, clean toothbrush, before placing the item in the wash. Another option is to combine one part vinegar with one part warm water, then allow the shirt to soak for a couple of hours. Drain the water and wash the garment as usual. If the stain is a really heavy build-up, scrub the area with vinegar before soaking.

4. Baking soda + water

For dried, yellowish deodorant stains, you can make a paste out of baking soda and water to rub the stain off. Baking soda soaks up most of the residue from the fabric and removes it from the garment. Mix 3 parts baking soda with one part water to form a paste. Smear the paste over the stain and allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes. Rub out it gently with a cleaning brush and rinse it with warm water. Wash the garment as normal.

5. Laundry detergent + water

What cleansing agent is more appropriate to use for garments than laundry detergent? For mild antiperspirant stains, a soak with a detergent solution will clear off the stain just fine. Mix 1 tablespoon of laundry detergent to one cup of water and soak the stained area in the solution for at least 30 minutes. Gently rub the stain with your hands. Rinse and wash as normal.

6. Aspirin + water

Did you know that your go-to pain reliever and fever medication also works as an anti-yellow agent that can eliminate sweat and deodorant stains from your white garments? Amazing, right? Just crush two aspirins and mix it with ½ cup warm water. Pour the mixture into the stain and allow it to soak for two to three hours. Rub the area with laundry detergent and scrub the area gently with a soft brush. Rinse and wash as usual.

7. Bleach + ammonia

If the yellow stain is too strong, you would want a strong cleaning solution for it. While wearing rubber gloves, mix one part oxygen-based bleach (don’t use chlorine bleach – it may cause fumes) and one part ammonia in a non-metal bowl or basin. Rub the solution into stains with a soft brush for at least 30 seconds, allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes and wash as normal. Make sure you are in a well-ventilated area while doing this one. For a milder option, just mix one part ammonia and two parts water. Dab the stained area with the solution before laundering.

8. Meat tenderizer + water

Those stiff, hard-to-remove stained areas in your garments can be tenderized away with a meat tenderizer. Simply dampen the armpit stain, then create a loose paste by mixing unseasoned meat tenderizer and water. Spread the paste over the stained area and rub it. Allow the paste to sit overnight on the stain, rinse and wash as normal. However, you shouldn’t do this trick on silk, wool or other protein-based fabric materials.

9. Dish soap + hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide works as a natural bleach and absorbent so it definitely works in cleaning out stains. Pair with dish soap that can break down deposits and you have an effective stain-removing duo. Mix two parts hydrogen peroxide with one part dish soap and immerse the stained area in the solution for one hour. Gently scrub the fabric with your hands and rinse thoroughly with water. Make sure you rinse out the mixture completely because hydrogen peroxide turns yellow when exposed to sunlight.

10. Salt + water

Stubborn yellow stains can also be eliminated by salt. Simply dissolve 4 tablespoons of salt in 1 liter of hot water. Sponge the stained garment with the solution until you see the stain disappear. Wash as normal.

Preventing Deodorant Stains

Now that you know how to remove deodorant stains, remember that you shouldn’t always need to do these. Instead, try preventing stains from forming in the first place. Here are some ways on how to avoid deodorant stains:

  • To protect your expensive shirt from staining, wear an undershirt that you don’t mind being stained. But if having an extra layer is not possible, switch to an aluminum-free deodorant. Aluminum compounds cause stains, so choose a brand with the lowest aluminum content possible that still provides the anti-sweat and anti-odor protection you need.
  • After shower or bath, apply deodorant when your underarms are completely dry. Water and deodorant don’t mix – they only make staining more likely. Plus, you should really dry yourself first before applying anything to your body.
  • Wait until your deodorant is completely dry before dressing to prevent rub-off on the garment. If you’re on a rush, blast your underarms for a few seconds with a hairdryer.
  • Don’t roll too much. Just one smooth, even application of deodorant is enough to keep you fresh all day. Also, the excess product that hasn’t been absorbed by your body would only get mixed up in the fabric of your clothing.
  • Avoid wearing tight-fitting synthetic garments. If your underarms can’t breathe in that blouse, let it go. Prefer looser-fitting ones with fabrics made of natural materials to prevent the skin and deodorant from sticking to your clothing, which causes the build-up of stains.
  • If you have perspired on a garment, don’t keep it on your laundry bag – wash them as soon as possible. Once stains have set in and mixed with perspiration, it becomes much harder to remove. Keep a spray bottle filled with undiluted white vinegar, and spray it on the underarm areas of your shirts before washing. Let the spray set in your garments for 10 to 15 minutes before washing.  
  • Once you notice that yellow stains are starting to form in your garments, don’t put it in the dryer anymore. The heat of the dryer can set in residual stains, making them difficult to remove. It’s better to dry shirts under the sun to keep the white, or air dry them indoors. Once you have completely treated the stains, you can toss them in the dryer again.