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Ask Belle: Removing Deodorant Stains

Hello!

I think you’ve done a post on this, but I couldn’t find it when I did a search. I’m ruining my black clothes – for example, a lovely dress with deodorant sweat marks that I can’t get out. I have this happening with my suits, too, and sent them to the dry cleaner and the cleaner didn’t get the stains out either. Is it possible to restore the black armpits?

Thanks for the advice! Emily

Deodorant stains are usually caused by a chemical reaction between the aluminum salts in your anti-perspirant and your sweat.  If you switch to a deodorant or an aluminum-free anti-perspirant like Arm & Hammer Naturals or Tom’s, you should be able to prevent new stains.

For fresh deodorant stains, try a sponge like this one from Hollywood Fashion Secrets.  It will even lighten older stains in some cases.  These Microfiber sponges are also a good choice.  In a pinch, you can also use a balled up pair of nylons or a used dryer sheet.

To remove stains from light-colored clothing, use white vinegar or citric acid mixed with warm water.  For set-in stains, you may want to try a paste made of Oxy Clean and water.  Mix the two products together until it is the consistency of wet sand, then lay it on the stain and leave it for a few hours.  Before you try it on a piece you love or a suit, do a small test patch somewhere that isn’t visible to make sure it won’t damage the item.

Any other tips?  Leave them in the comments.

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    16 comments

  1. Amy says:

    I was so sick and tired of fighting this battle, and taking things to the dry cleaner’s after only one wear because of the sweat marks. I have found some success with using garment shields like these: https://missoops.com/clothing-shields.html or these: https://www.amazon.com/Garment-Guard-Disposable-Underarm-Size-Beige-5/dp/B000NRTMHW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1465834445&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=garment+shields&psc=1. Some brands are better than others so I have had to experiment to find what works best. I currently have one pack each from both brands linked above. In my experience, the “Garment Guard” brand ones tend to be more sticky (they don’t move around or crumple up) and more comfortable (they feel like fabric against your skin), but sometimes leave a sticky residue after I peel them off.

    June 13, 2016/Reply
  2. alpacalypse says:

    This won’t help with existing stains (nor with dresses unless they have sleeves), but I started wearing women’s undershirts to keep from ruining my nice silk blouses, shirts, suits, cardigans, etc. I just came across the “Nudy Patooty” brand, which is FANTASTIC, but have been wearing Wolford undershirts as well for a number of years. Both are very soft and won’t show any lines through your clothes, however the Wolford shirts have a fairly high neckline that I can’t wear under some of my tops. Also, the Wolford shirts are ~$150 (!! I received mine as a gift) and Nudy Patooty shirts are ~$50 or so. Definitely worth a try — in addition to preventing deodorant stains, the Nudy Patooty shirts also prevent sweat marks throughout the day (they have extra protection around the armpit area, though you can’t feel it’s there). I have been super pleased with them.

    Good luck!!

    June 13, 2016/Reply
  3. Kelly says:

    That thin foam that the dry cleaner uses on wire hangers to keep delicates from slipping off the hanger? Works exactly the same as the sponge erasers…and it’s free. And it counts as recycling.

    June 13, 2016/Reply
  4. E.S. says:

    Degree makes a deodorant that is supposed to not stain white or black clothes. Has anyone tried it?

    June 13, 2016/Reply
    • Bella says:

      The Degree Men’s Black and White is what I’ve been using… it’s not perfect, but I like it and the smell is very neutral for a men’s deodorant. I have a problem with staining white shirts yellow and this has seemed to lessen the effects.

      June 17, 2016/Reply
  5. Rachel says:

    To remove fresh deodorant streaks or fallout, I swear by baby wipes. I keep a packet in my purse, and they take the deodorant right out.

    As for preventing sweat stains, this might sound a little icky, but on days when I have to wear something with sleeves to work and it’s really sweltering, I insert small pantiliners into the underarm area to soak up the sweat. You might need to change them periodically, if you’re a sweaty beast like me, but it’s the only thing that’s worked for me.

    June 13, 2016/Reply
    • Mikey says:

      When I worked in a fashion boutique, we also used baby wipes or if there was a really bad one, we used a magic eraser and just gently swiped at the fabric, more blotting than anything else.

      June 14, 2016/Reply
  6. Anon says:

    After trying lots of things and having no success, I saw a recommendation somewhere for Deo-go (https://deo-go.com/) and gave it a try on some white t-shirts that I had used as an under layer for extrarmth. It worked for me; but like everything, I would try it somewhere inconspicuous first if I wanted to use it on a garment I was especially fond of.

    June 13, 2016/Reply
  7. LS says:

    In addition to causing these stains, aluminum in deodorant has also been tentatively linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s. I’m not convinced there’s a direct causal relationship, but I’m not willing to take the chance.

    That said, most natural deodorant suck. And different things work for different people. I used the Crystal stick for years and worked really well for me as long as the weather is less than 80 degrees (clearly not DC). Some people swear by the Crystal roll on.

    I recently switched to Meow Meow Tweet and have been loving it so far, even on hot days.

    June 13, 2016/Reply
    • Lia says:

      Yup, I started using Ursa Major Hoppin Fresh deodorant for that reason. I have some mixed feelings about it – it works well for me 90% of the time but some days I feel like I need chemical deodorant. But I know some people that absolutely love it!

      I’ll have to give Meow Meow Tweet a try.

      The other upside is certainly less staining on clothes 🙂

      June 14, 2016/Reply
  8. Jenn S. says:

    Just chiming in in support of the Arm & Hammer Essentials/Naturals in Fresh (I haven’t tried the unscented). It is what I currently use and it does a decent job. It isn’t an antiperspirant, so it isn’t going to stop you from sweating, but it is a clear solid so it shouldn’t worsen the staining problem like an anti-antiperspirant does.

    I’ve read about people getting Botox injections in their underarms to inhibit sweating, but I’m not sure how I feel about that.

    June 14, 2016/Reply
  9. Hillary says:

    Those stains are a combination of aluminum in your antiperspirants and sweat and you can get this out with RAISE armpit stain remover l. It has gotten out some pretty old stains on my blouses. Go to http://www.armpitstainremover.com

    June 14, 2016/Reply
    • EET says:

      The website seems like its only lighter colored clothes – does RAISE work on black/dark clothes, too?

      June 15, 2016/Reply
  10. Jen says:

    Keep it old school with dress shields! peel and stick.

    June 14, 2016/Reply
  11. Michelle says:

    For white I spray the yellow stains with hydrogen peroxide and let soak overnight. Rinse in the morning and repeat if necessary. Again, this is ONLY for white pieces. Works great!

    June 14, 2016/Reply
  12. em84 says:

    An all-time favourite way to remove sweat stains (and any other stains) in Europe is gall soap. Wet the stained area with water, soap it well, leave in for 1hr or so and then rinse out. In case the stains were not removed entirely, repeat. When stains are gone, throw it to the washing machine and wash as usual. The soap is strong enough to remove OLD stains as well. You can grate the soap into washing machine as well, but I prefer to do it the old-school way. The gall soap takes care of my white bras and t-shirts – all as good as new!

    December 22, 2016/Reply