by Amy Gordon
(last updated July 17, 2017)
Despite the best efforts of antiperspirant companies, sweat stains still occur, especially if you work out a lot. To add insult to injury, you often get deodorant stains at the same time. Sometimes sweat stains seem to occur more often in combination with deodorant. Here's how to get rid of sweat stains, and make your shirts feel clean yet again.
As with many types of stains, the sooner you deal with a sweat stain, the easier it is to get rid of with the minimum of effort on your part. Once you get home, if you notice a sweat stain on your shirt, take off the shirt. Turn the shirt inside out and gently rub plain white vinegar into the stain. This should be an effective pretreatment, and the article of clothing does not need to be washed right away. To help remove any odor if you've been working out, you can try adding a cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle of your wash.
Another easily available item you can use is baking soda. Make a paste of baking soda and a little bit of water, and gently rub the paste into the stained areas. Let the paste sit for half an hour, and then put the shirt into the washing machine and launder it as you normally would.
Plain dish detergent can also be effective on sweat stains. Dab at the sweat stain with a clean cloth and some dish detergent and wash the shirt as you normally would. You can also try hydrogen peroxide, if your shirt is colorfast. If you're not sure whether your shirt is colorfast, test the hydrogen peroxide in an inconspicuous place before treating your sweat stains with it. Dab at the stain with a clean white cloth dipped in hydrogen peroxide.
If your shirts are bleachable—perhaps they're all white—adding a cup of bleach to the wash will remove any sweat stains. For colored shirts, there are color-safe bleaches available, but you should test first to make sure your shirt won't end up losing all of its color.
If you've just noticed an old sweat stain, and vinegar isn't getting it out, try hair shampoo formulated for oily hair. This kind of shampoo helps break down the natural oils in sweat. Shampoo will also work on yellowed collars, a less noticeable sweat stain.
You may want to consider experimenting with a different type of antiperspirant if you often get sweat stains with deodorant on, but not when you go without. Some deodorants seem to help cause stains.
Sweat stains happen naturally, and can be easy to removed if dealt with early.
Warning: Do not use both bleach and ammonia on a stain. They react together to form a poisonous gas. Check cleaning products to see if they contain either bleach or ammonia before using them together.
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