A good deodorant has two main jobs: to prevent you from smelling bad when you sweat and keep embarrassing sweat stains from showing up on your clothing. Most deodorants do their jobs well, but sometimes these products can create an additional problem: deodorant stains.
While there are deodorants made specifically to keep this from happening, what do you do when your black shirt is covered in white streaks? Your colorful shirt will show stubborn deodorant stains, and some may even get worse over time. This is especially true if your washing machine doesn’t totally remove the stain when you’re doing laundry.
Fortunately, this article will inform you how to avoid those stains, and how to remove them if you happen to come across this problem anyway. There are many everyday products you can use to remove deodorant stains, and you might already have some of them at home!
What Causes Deodorant Stains
A lot of deodorants contain aluminum salts. This ingredient actually reacts with your sweat when the two come together in your clothing. This chemical reaction is actually what causes the fabric to stain or change color. This leaves behind white streaks that are especially worse in high-sweat areas.
All deodorants will leave a white residue on your clothing, but the chemical reaction that occurs in high-sweat areas combined with aluminum salts is what causes the type of staining and residue that is hard to remove. That’s why white streaks on other areas of your clothing will usually come out in the wash, but the ones near the underarms are still there!
If you want to prevent this, make sure you’re not applying too much deodorant. You should also let the product dry on your skin before you get dressed, especially if you’re using a spray with aluminum salts in powdered form. Wait until you can’t see any signs of the deodorant on your skin, as in white residue, before getting dressed.
Even if you can’t avoid deodorant stains, there are many ways to get rid of them rather easily. White stains can usually just be rubbed off or removed with warm water, these are the ones that don’t occur near high-sweat areas. More yellow stains from under the arms are a different story, however.
What Causes Yellow Underarm stains, and How Do I Deal with It?
While white deodorant stains are usually easy to deal with, yellow stains are a different story. These stains develop over time and become worse with each trip through the washing machine. That’s because sweat, body fat, and antiperspirant ingredients react with the chemical ingredients in laundry detergent. This causes a yellowish residue to form, adhering to the threads of your clothing’s fabric. As it’s a reaction to the detergent that causes this, it can actually become worse with repeated washings!
This can lead to your fabrics becoming stiffer over time. This is especially true for cotton as the fibers are open and very absorbent. Synthetics don’t have as much of a problem because their fibers aren’t as absorbent, but cotton is a more breathable fabric and therefore better for those who sweat excessively.
Have no worries, though, because there are some simple home remedies that will help you remove these tough stains.
Home Remedies to Remove Tough Deodorant Stains
So, what do you do if your washing machine is only making your deodorant stains worse? There are actually some very simple solutions you can use to solve this problem.
Use 5% citric acid powder mixed in water for your whites
For your white clothing, yellow stains can be particularly annoying. Luckily, these can be easily removed using citric acid. You can purchase a 5% citric acid powder from most pharmacies. Mix a couple of teaspoons of this into a liter of water and let your whites soak in it for 24 hours.
After that, rinse the clothing in cold water before putting it in the washing machine. It’s very important not to skip this step because citric acid powder can actually be as harmful to your colored clothing as bleach. Buttons, especially if they’re colorful or made from organic materials, can also be damaged by citric acid powder. Your best bet is to use this solution on all-white clothing that doesn’t have buttons or other damageable accessories.
It is also recommended that you wear gloves when handling the solution and rinsing your clothing afterward as some people may experience skin reactions.
Use vinegar essence diluted with water for your colorful or dark clothing
For colorful or black clothing, you’ll need to use a gentler approach than the one offered by citric acid powder—unless you’re trying out a bold new look! A very effective product is vinegar essence diluted in water. You should test out the solution on a small area of the clothing prior to soaking it because finer fabrics may become discolored.
If your clothing shows no changes after the test, then you can assume that it’s safe to use. Dilute the vinegar essence well and soak your clothing in it for a few hours. Afterward, you can pop it in the washing machine—no need to rinse it first. Don’t worry about the vinegar smell, it should disappear with washing as easily as the deodorant stains.
Baking soda can also remove deodorant stains
Everyone has a can of baking soda in their pantries, and it’s another way to remove deodorant stains from your white clothing! Test it on a small corner of the clothing first to ensure there’s not unwanted side-effects, especially if you’re going to try it on your colors.
To use this method, moisten your clothing and sprinkle the baking soda over it, especially where the stains are worst. Rub the powder into the fabric, let it sit for a few hours, then rinse it and wash your clothes as usual.
If you’re dealing with a built-up or stubborn stain, you may have to repeat the process a second time or let it soak for 24 hours.
Washing soda is effective and safe for most fabrics
You can purchase this from most grocery stores or pharmacies. Dilute one to two tablespoons of the powder in warm water. Let the clothing soak in it for up to 30 minutes, then brush the clothing with your hand or a washing brush. Concentrate on the stained areas, but don’t rub too much or you might damage the fabric. This solution is gentle and should not harm most fabrics so long as you don’t scrub too much. Washing soda is ideal if you don’t want to wait for 24 hours before washing your clothing.
Cosmetic sponges will remove white deodorant stains
You can easily remove white deodorant stains using a cosmetic sponge. These sponges can be found where make-up and cosmetics are sold, and they are essentially little foam or rubber sponges.