Underarm stains are mostly caused by residues of deodorant or sweat, and we are sure you can’t wait to clean them and get rid of them.
You don’t want to see yellow stains under your arms or white stains behind your neck. Fortunately, most stains can be treated.
Let’s find out why they appear in the first place and, hopefully, fix them as soon as possible using DIY methods and ingredients around your home. Keep reading to find out more!
What Are Underarm Stains?
Underarm stains are noticeable, discolored areas in the underarm area of your clothing. The type of discoloring depends on the type of fabric and the color of your shirt.
If they are white or light-colored, you might see yellow stains. If they are dark, the opposite can happen and you will start seeing white or light grey stains.
They might also give out a “blurry” feeling to the fabric.
What Can Cause Underarm Stains
There are two main causes of underarm stains: natural causes and man-made causes. They are both related to the fact of sweating (natural causes) which, as we know, causes body odor. With time, they become bigger and more and more noticeable. Not only this doesn’t look good, but it can also affect garments that you like or even with sentimental value. You might be pulling a perfect outfit only to get it ruined by underarm stains.
The answer that we have is to apply deodorant (man-made). As we know, this mitigates body odor and adds a slight fragrance.
Stains Caused by Sweat
Perspiration is another common cause of stains. We have glands under our arms that generate sweat, which helps us cool down if our body temperature is increasing. It could be because of exercising, or just the natural increase of temperature in your city. Dallas can reach over 100° sometimes during the year!
Stressful situations also increase your body temperature, which translates into sweat. Work, traffic and running errands are all common causes of stress increasing.
Sweat also releases components from our body that we don’t need anymore, mostly minerals. The stain is produced when they come in contact with our deodorant or antiperspirant.
Whether they came from deodorant or sweat, stains are there and need to be gone.
Stains Caused by Deodorant
Deodorant stains are extremely common. They are caused mostly by aluminum. There are two main types of products that reduce sweat and body odor: antiperspirants and deodorants.
Antiperspirants contain aluminum, deodorants don’t. When it comes into contact with our bodies, particularly our sweat, they will decolorate our clothing.
With time, you’ll start noticing yellow stains under your arms. The worst part is that it’s not a one-time issue, it just evolves slowly with time, so you’ll have to act before the stains are too noticeable or permanent.
Cleaning Underarm Stains with Homemade DIY Cleaners
The good news is that underarm stains are not permanent! There are so many cleaning products and techniques that you can use and the best part is that you can create them at home in less than 10 minutes.
We can go from easy/simple and start trying with different cleaning agents.
The Rubbing Technique for Removing Stains
The first technique is fantastic because it doesn’t require any products, not even water. Try removing the stain by rubbing it with a nonstained piece of fabric from the same article of clothing. Because you are using the same type of fabric, this is a really gentle approach to your garment. This is especially useful for delicate fabrics such as silk.
This works particularly well for white deodorant stains, not so much for darker ones. You should try this method before adding any other product: at worst, it will have no effect.
Try Hydrogen Peroxide for Stubborn Underarm Stains
If that didn’t work, hydrogen peroxide will be a lifesaver here. As you may know, water is a great cleaning on its own, and with extra oxygen, it will be able to break down components that cause decoloration.
To start, create a cleaning solution by mixing one spoon of hydrogen peroxide, two spoons of baking soda, and ½ teaspoon of dish soap. Mixing chemicals is usually not a good idea but baking soda reacts nicely with most -if not all- household cleaning products. Plus, hydrogen peroxide is just water and oxygen.
Next, mix these three components until you form a paste and apply using an old toothbrush, and rub in a soft, circular motion. Then, let sit for 15 minutes. Finally, wash your article of clothing as per usual.
The Good Old Vinegar Trick
When it comes to cleaning, vinegar has proven to be a jack-of-all-trades. In fact, vinegar is a great fabric softener and it can be used to remove deodorant stains for both white and colored clothes.
White cooking vinegar will do just fine. All you’ll need to do is grab your article of clothing and soak the stained area (it doesn’t need to be the entire piece) for an hour. Next, brush that same area with an old toothbrush for about 5 minutes or until you see the stain disappearing. Wash the entire garment in cold water afterward.
Related: Vinegar, A Very Versatile Cleaner
Try Lemon Juice for Underarm Stains
Similar to vinegar, lemon juice is one of the most versatile natural cleaning agents. Citric acid is a popular ingredient for cleaning products and one of the easiest ways to obtain it is through lemon or oranges and you can use it for many areas or surfaces at home.
Here’s how you can use it to remove underarm stains: place two or three teaspons of fresh lemon juice in a cup of warm water. Rub it into the stained area and rub with your fingers or with a soft brush, in a soft, circular motion. Let it sit for about an hour and then wash using cold setting.
If the stains are still there, repeat the process before placing your clothes in the dryer. Remember, heat will set the stains and it will be even harder to remove later.
Related: Homemade Cleaner Recipes
Use Your Deodorant Smarter, not Harder
If you’re using antiperspirants, switch to a deodorant that has no aluminum so you can tell the difference. Now you can find no-stains deodorants that are specifically designed to avoid staining your clothing. Also, if possible, take a shower every night and use your deodorant.
Because you won’t sweat as often at night, your glands won’t be producing that much sweat, this way the deodorant can set on your underarms and perform better during the day.
You can try the natural route and go for eco-friendly or natural deodorants. They usually contain essential oils to kill bacteria and offer a fragrance, and something to absorb sweat (e.g., cornstarch, baking soda) and many people enjoy using them instead of “regular” deodorants because they won’t create stains. Take the time to test 2 or 3 natural deodorants, either homemade or manufactured, and see if you “click” with one of them!
Take Good Care of Your Shirts
Good maintenance keeps many problems away.
Oxygen-based bleach, instead of chlorine bleach, is perfectly safe for both white and colored clothes and will soften stains. It will also make fabrics look brighter. Soak your clothes once in a while in a gallon of cold water next to a cup of oxygen-based bleach and you’ll notice an improvement.
Placing once cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle of your washing machine will work as a natural fabric softener. It will also help removing stains.
Avoid Underarm Stains in the Future
A good rule of thumb is that taking preventive measures always works great in the long run, and this includes sweating!
Wearing an undershirt is a great strategy. If you want to preserve your favorite garments for a long time, you could use white cotton undershirts underneath. They will absorb all your body substances (sweat, natural body oils, deodorant…) that may cause stains or decoloration.
Therefore, your most valued clothes won’t need to be washed that often since they won’t absorb smells directly, keeping them safe and sound for a long time. On top of that, you will also save on water and detergent because you won’t need to wash your clothes as often.
As for sweating, you can’t avoid that happening, for obvious reasons, but you do want to help sweat be as harmless as possible: wash your sweaty clothes as fast as possible as soon as you’ve stopped using them.
Also, wear comfortable clothing that allows sweat to leave your body. The better airflow, the quicker sweat will evaporate. Many shirts now come with a mesh fabric that allows for better ventilation, reducing the accumulation of sweat and body odor.
If you are working out at home, make sure you remove your workout clothes as soon as you finish and, if possible, hang them to air dry.
Underarm stains, either caused by sweat or by deodorant, are not pleasant to look at and can ruin your clothing. Taking extra care of your garments will make them last for years and years. Always try your cleaning solutions in a small, hidden area (the area behind your neck, for example).
Choosing the right deodorant will save you a big headache later on. And remember, if you want your belongings to last long and stay clean and sanitized efficiently, you can hire a professional service.