How to Get Deodorant Stains Out of Shirts

How to Get Deodorant Stains Out of Shirts

Whether they're fresh marks or set-in sweat, deodorant stains are frustrating—especially since they tend to happen as you're rushing to get out the door. Next time you notice an inadvertent white streak on your shirt, don't panic. We're sharing our best laundering tips for how to get deodorant stains out of shirts.

shirts hanging in laundry room

Our comprehensive deodorant stain removal guide includes advice from Mary Gagliardi, the in-house scientist and cleaning expert at Clorox—also known as “Dr. Laundry.” Quickly and easily treat your favorite clothing pieces with these expert tips.


Deodorant Stains vs. Antiperspirant Stains

Deodorant vs Antiperspirant: Are They Actually Different? We Ask a Derm to  Find Out

Before discussing removal methods, it’s important to distinguish between deodorant stains and sweat stains. If you use an aerosol spray, gel roll-on, or any product labeled “invisible,” you can usually avoid deodorant stains on your clothing—or, at least the classic pesky white marks that show up on dark clothing.

However, this doesn't mean you’re immune to sweat stains. They’re to blame for those dingy yellow spots that form right inside the armpits of light-colored tops. These stains are typically caused by aluminum, an ingredient that's included in the antiperspirant portion of many deodorants and is what reduces excess sweat. Of course, some sweat still escapes through your pores, and the salt it contains causes a chemical reaction when mixed with aluminum.

While the white streaks from stick deodorants are a pain, you can easily erase them, especially when you do so immediately. Set-in perspiration stains are trickier to tackle, but don’t discard those yellowed shirts just yet!


How to Get Deodorant Stains Out of Shirts

How to Remove Armpit Stains and Odor from Clothes

Fortunately, white residue on a dark top is easy to eliminate. “For a light smear of deodorant that gets on cotton or other cellulosic clothing (linen, rayon, bamboo, etc.) while you get dressed, it’s good to set the item aside and pick something else to wear," Gagliardi says. "Unless you have enough time to spot treat the stain with a little detergent or Clorox 2 For Colors, and allow it to air dry.”

If you don't have time to choose something else to wear, try rubbing the streaks out with one of the following household items:

  • Another part of the fabric itself
  • A damp cloth, sponge, or baby wipe
  • A dryer sheet
  • A pair of stockings
  • A cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol (unless it’s a delicate fabric, then you'll want to skip cleaning with alcohol)


How to Prevent Deodorant Stains

“If you know you have a problem with deodorant stains because they build up over time, try preventing them from happening in the first place,” Gagliardi recommends. Here, you’ll find five tips to nip both yellow stains and white residue in the bud.

Try a new formula: To eliminate white marks, swap out your solid deodorant for a spray, gel, or invisible formula. To eliminate sweat stains, consider switching to an aluminum-free deodorant to negate the chemical reaction that causes the discoloration.

Use the right amount: You might think applying more layers of deodorant on long days helps minimize perspiration, but it can adversely affect your shirts. If the deodorant contains aluminum, more product simply means that there’s more to mix with sweat and bacteria, leading to yellow stains in the armpits.

Allow deodorant to dry: After applying deodorant, wait until it fully dries before getting dressed to prevent it from transferring to your top. In a hurry? Carefully hit your armpits with a hairdryer on a cool setting to speed up the process.

Pre-treat your tops: “Another good technique, especially in high-efficiency washers, is to pretreat underarms each time you wash an item,” Gagliardi says. You can apply a small amount of liquid laundry detergent or use a stain remover that’s safe for the fabric or color being washed.

Treat stains ASAP: The sooner you wash a top that you know is prone to staining, the better because the longer it sits, the more time the stain has to set in. Gagliardi provides a few final suggestions for treating sweat stains.  “Cool or cold temperatures don’t get items as clean so dial up your washer settings to warm or even hot," she says. "Make sure you are using the right detergent in the right amount for the type of clothes and the load size. Lastly, be sure to add the appropriate bleach product too if you’re looking to tackle tough stains.”


How to Remove Yellow Sweat Stains

How To Remove Yellow Sweat Stains From Your Clothes The Easy Way! –  Practically Functional

Removing sweat stains is a bit more complicated than simple deodorant stains, but they aren't impossible to treat. Try one of these methods to eliminate pesky sweat stains from your clothing.

Mix baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and water: “For white shirts, you can get these hard-to-remove stains out by mixing up a solution of equal parts 3% hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and water,” Gagliardi says. Note that it’s best to do this over a basin to minimize the mess. She explains that you should carefully pour boiling water onto the stains. “It should soften the build-up, and then you can quickly apply the solution while the stains are still hot," she says. After five minutes, machine wash the shirt with bleach. If the stains have been there for a while or the armpits are dramatically discolored, you may need to wash the shirt once or twice more to remove them thoroughly.

Use white vinegar: If the antiperspirant stain is relatively new, try this method that uses only one household item. Place the sweat-stained shirt in a basin and soak it in white vinegar for an hour or so. Then, tackle the armpit stains with a small, soft-bristled brush, such as a toothbrush. Once you are happy with the results, launder the shirt as usual.

Mix lemon juice and water: Lemon juice can be used to clean a myriad of things around the house. One of its secret weapons is a bleaching effect, so it can work to remove sweat stains from white shirts. Mix equal parts lemon juice and water and apply it to the discolored areas. After a half hour, run it through the wash.




  • All photos used in this blogpost are sourced from the internet, and the rights belong to their respective owners
  • Cornetta, M. (2024, April 24). How to Get Deodorant Stains Out of Shirts. Better Homes & Gardens.
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