However, before we learn how to remove deodorant stains, let’s remember why you stick with them in the first place. “The white residue you see comes from the antiperspirant properties of your deodorant,” says Gwen Whiting, co-founder of eco-friendly fabric care and detergent company The Laundress. “The aluminum salts used in antiperspirants often leave a chalky film on the skin, which can then transfer to clothing and leave white marks. These can build up over time and cause set stains.”
Since that’s not the most desirable look, to say the least, you probably want to know how to remove deodorant stains (or just prevent them from happening in the first place). So to stay fresh, clean and stain free, read on for all the information (and products) you could ever need.
How to prevent deodorant stains in the first place
“To avoid those annoying white marks, apply deodorant after you put on the blouse by applying it under the shirt, from the bottom hem,” says Lindsey Boyd, co-founder of The Laundress. “Avoid pulling on the neckline to apply deodorant, because this can stretch the fabric. If you apply deodorant before you get dressed, make sure you give it a couple of minutes to dry before putting your clothes on.”
“To avoid those annoying white marks, apply deodorant after you put on the blouse by applying it under the shirt, from the bottom hem.” —Lindsey Boyd, co-founder of The Laundress
You may also consider trying a deodorant that does not contain aluminum salts, which is the culprit behind white streaks. Or, you can try this nifty sleeve trick: “Another trick is to hem the garment before you put it on,” says Boyd. “This way, you’re less likely to get a mark on the outside of the garment.”
How to remove deodorant stains from clothes
If you’re past the stage of working to prevent stains and the damage has been done, all is not lost. According to Whiting and Boyd, removing deodorant stains boils down to three easy steps.
- Apply an anti-stain solution to the garment and rub it in with a brush or towel.
- Fill a washtub or sink with hot water for cotton pieces and cold water for silk, wool, and cashmere. Let the item soak in the water for up to 30 minutes.
- Wash normally with a specific fabric detergent on the appropriate washer setting.
To make the most of these relatively simple instructions and ensure you don’t end up with permanent underarm stains on your clothes, routine washing can help prevent deodorant marks from worsening over time. And if it’s wool, silk, or cashmere, you might want to call in some experts.
“Laundering or dry-cleaning your blouses and shirts after each wear helps prevent buildup and damage to fibers and lasting odor,” says Katie Brown, owner of Rytina Fine Cleaners in Sacramento, California. “If you go to a dry cleaner, they can remove shirt stains to treat underarm stains depending on the fabric. Otherwise, there are many over-the-counter products that can be used to pre-treat the underarm area before washing .”
8 alternative methods to remove deodorant stains yourself
If you’re going the DIY route to pretreat deodorant stains and don’t already have a stain remover in your arsenal, or are just looking for alternative methods to remove them, there are several methods. you can try. Some ways to approach Here are eight expert tips to help you treat deodorant stains and keep your clothes fresh.
1. THE LAUNDRY STICK AND LAUNDRY STAINS, $6
“Our Wash & Stain bar is the perfect product to treat stains when you’re in a pinch,” says Boyd. “It’s travel sized and has a reusable wrapper that makes it handy to keep in a purse or handbag. Just place the stick under water and work into the fabric until the stain is gone.”
2. The Laundress LINT-FREE CLEANING CLOTHS, $20
This towel (or a similar clean hand towel) is involved in step two of removing deodorant stains with the stick. Boyd says to use a damp cloth (not paper towels or tissues, which will leave behind lint or residue) to remove the soap. Then he dries the garment with another clean cloth to absorb the moisture.
3. HYDROGEN PEROXIDE, $10
“For those yellow underarm stains, try spraying hydrogen peroxide, which can be found at any pharmacy, directly on the stain,” says Brown. “Wait about 30 minutes, then wash according to the care label.”
But don’t wet your sleeves all at once. Rather, Brown says, when trying this hydrogen peroxide hack or any other home remedy, it’s safer to test a small area of the garment before treating the entire stain. This helps ensure that the hydrogen peroxide does not damage the fabric.
4. Natural pit stop, $14
This organic spray can also combat those yellow stains on your shirts. Spray the stain, then scrub with a brush until the problem area is saturated. Then wait 20 minutes before scrubbing again and wash separately from your regular clothes. While you can use it to remove tough-to-remove stains from things like ink and pasta sauce, steer clear of silk fabrics, says Brown.
5. OXO GOOD GRIPS ALL-PURPOSE SCRUB BRUSH, $8
This multi-purpose brush is a useful tool if you choose to treat stains with a cleaning spray. It’s a good buy if you normally resort to spray removers and want to get deeper into those fibers.
6. Hollywood Deodorant Remover Sponge, $14
If you need a quick fix for when your white deodorant stains a really great dress you still intend to wear at the earliest, these deodorant remover sponges are a must. They can be used without water and can be stored in any purse or travel bag, in case of a deodorant stain emergency. Just rub it in fervently and you should be good to go.
7. Oxiclean Max Force Gel Stain Remover, $7
This gel stick isn’t specifically aimed at sweat stains, but it’s more of a healing solution for people who tend to be sloppy. The tool’s precision nubs combat common stains like ice cream, grease, oil, and even blood (which is more of a general info, since those kinds of stains are unlikely to show up under your arms). And if you weren’t planning on doing a lot of laundry right now, this gel stick is your friend because it allows you to pre-treat the stain now and wash the garment up to a week later.
8. UNDERARM SWEAT PADS, $16
If you know you have a tendency to sweat, if nothing else, this tool is probably a worthwhile investment for you. These underarm sweat guards are a great prevention method to try if, for example, you don’t have easy access to a washer and dryer to deal with any stains that may arise.
Namely, there are a variety of “correct” ways to remove deodorant stains. You can certainly take into account how you apply your chosen stick or choose a product that is unlikely to stain in the first place. But, in the event that a deodorant stain does land on your underarms, remember that regular cleanings can help prevent them from building up and becoming permanent features on your garments. Plus, there are plenty of spot treatment sprays and scrubs available to tackle the spot at the source.
And if none of these strategies work for you, maybe it’s time to just switch to tank tops and call it a day.
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