Depending on how much you sweat, the yellow armpit stains can show up after only one wear sometimes — and who wants to toss out a brand new shirt, right?
We all hate it. Most of us have at least one shirt hanging in the closet that we don’t wear anymore — because of those nasty yellow sweat stains. How embarrassing would it be to lift your arm and have someone see those yellow underarm stains?!
So, if you want to remove sweat stains naturally, below are a few things that have worked for me. Also, I’ve found 2 great ways to prevent sweat stains in the first place!
Sweat stain problems occur if the sweat patches are left to dry and not washed for a long time, or if there’s a build-up of antiperspirant or deodorant product mixed in. Over time, the aluminium in the product and the salt in your sweat combine to form a yellow sweat stain, making it harder to remove with normal washing. Source
How To Prevent Armpit Stains
These are my 2 favorite ways to prevent sweat stains on white shirts:
#1 – Use A Deodorant Instead Of An Antiperspirant
Interestingly, the best “natural” way to prevent armpit stains that I’ve found is to stop using antiperspirants.
The reason: the aluminum in them is partially responsible for the yellow stain. (Some of the stain is from the toxins that your body is naturally getting rid of through perspiration.)
Aluminum is the active ingredient in most heavy-duty antiperspirants. Sweat is a protein. Yellow pit stains are caused when odorless, colorless sweat reacts with aluminum in antiperspirants. It’s why yellow pit stains appear on your white undershirts or dress shirts after only a few intense sweats. Source
I stopped using anti-perspirants 5 years ago when I read about a possible increase in breast cancer to women who shaved their armpits and wore antiperspirants with aluminum in them.
The evidence suggests that switching to a deodorant (ideally, an all-natural deodorant) can help with the odor that is caused by perspiration — and it may even prevent armpit stains that become nasty yellow in color.
I’ve been using Tom’s of Maine deodorant in lavender — and I haven’t had any more issues with yellow underarm stains!
Aluminum-free deodorants should consist of essential oils and all natural ingredients. Aluminum free alone may not be enough as some aluminum-free deodorants are still high risk, according to the Environmental Working Group, and can contain chemicals like triclosan and propylene glycol. Triclosan is perhaps a more fierce endocrine disruptor than propylene glycol, so try to avoid it. Source
#2 – Eat Healthier Foods
When your body isn’t forced to get rid of all the preservatives and other chemicals found in processed foods, there are fewer toxins in your sweat to cause the yellowing.
Eating better can actually help to reduce both — the odor and the severity of the yellow stains.
You have up to 5 million sweat glands located all over your body, and 2 types of glands do most of the work: Apocrine glands (which are found mainly in your armpit area) and Eccrine glands (which are more abundant and found all over your body). Apocrine sweat glands, which are usually associated with hair follicles, continuously secrete a fatty sweat into the gland tubule. Emotional stress causes the tubule wall to contract, expelling the fatty secretion to the skin, where local bacteria break it down into odorous fatty acids. Source
How To Remove Sweat Stains From Your Shirts
Okay, now that you know how to prevent underarm stains from appearing on your shirts in the future, let’s talk about what you can do to remove the yellow underarm stains you already have.
These are my 3 favorite ways to remove sweat stains from white shirts:
#1 – Use The Sun As An Armpit Stain Remover
My favorite pre-treatment recipe for underarm stain removal is similar to the way moms use the sun to remove stains from cloth baby diapers:
- First, pre-treat the yellow underarm stains in a solution of 2 parts lemon juice to 1 part table salt.
- Then hang the shirt to dry outside in the sunshine. The sun will naturally bleach the stain away.
- Finally, wash the shirt as you normally would.
TIP: Do not put armpit stained shirts in the dryer after washing! Doing so will set the stain, making it harder — if not impossible — to remove underarm sweat stains.
Whatever you do, don’t put them in the dryer because the heat will set the stain. Source
#2 – Use Vinegar As A Sweat Stain Remover
There are a few different natural stain remover variations that work equally well on underarm sweat stains. The difference lies in how you choose to get the vinegar to penetrate the fabric:
- Place your shirt in the washing machine. Add 1/4 cup of vinegar and enough water to cover the clothing in the washer. Agitate to mix the vinegar and water. Let it set overnight. Then, wash the shirt as you normally would.
- Pour vinegar directly onto the yellow armpit stain, and rub it into the fabric very well. Then, wash as usual.
- Pour vinegar directly onto the yellow sweat stain, and use coarse salt (or just regular table salt) to scrub it into the fabric. Then, hang the shirt outside in the sun to dry. After it’s completely dry, wash the shirt in the washing machine.
The more agitation the garment can tolerate in the washing machine, the better the chance of stain removal. The shirt needs the soap/washing property of the vinegar or detergent and the agitation of the machine to completely remove the stain. Source
#3 – Use Hydrogen Peroxide As An Armpit Stain Remover
I’ve found that baking soda — on its own — doesn’t work all that well to remove yellow armpit stains. But when you combine baking soda with other household items (like hydrogen peroxide and/or Dawn dishwashing liquid), you get a powerful sweat stain remover!
This is my favorite hydrogen peroxide recipe for an armpit stain remover:
- Mix 2 parts hydrogen peroxide with 1 part Dawn dishwashing detergent to create a paste.
- Apply this paste thoroughly to the yellow armpit stains.
- Sprinkle some baking soda onto the stained areas as well.
- Use a toothbrush or household scrub brush to work the paste into the fibers of the shirt.
- Let the paste set overnight.
- Wash the shirt alone or with other white clothes (but not darks — because hydrogen peroxide reacts like bleach does on colors).
Natural bleaching agents such as fresh lemon juice work best on natural fabrics such as wool, silk, and cotton. Always take necessary safety precautions if choosing to use hydrogen peroxide to avoid causing damage your clothes. Source
As you can see, there are several natural ways to prevent and remove yellow underarm stains from your white shirts. Trying just a couple of these techniques should solve your problem.
By the way, another common household laundry product called Oxiclean is also effective on yellow sweat stains. In fact, the men’s grooming site called Art of Manliness claims it’s the best at removing perspiration stains! Generally speaking, Oxiclean is a great alternative to regular bleach. There are lots of Oxiclean stain removal tips.
More Ways To Prevent & Remove Sweat Stains
In addition to the links I’ve included above, here are some other resources to help you find even more ways to prevent and remove yellow sweat stains:
- Other Ways To Get Rid Of Yellow Underarm Stains
- Reusable Sweat Shields Work Best To Prevent Sweat Stains
- Does A Clinical Strength Deodorant Really Work Better?
- 9 Natural Ways To Prevent Yellow Armpit Stains
Some of my favorite things to write about are topics that have to do with living green, saving money, pregnancy, weddings, and dogs. When I’m not writing, I love to spend time with my husband, read, create 3D artwork and Native American beadwork.