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8 Tricks To Get Rid Of Stubborn Underarm Stains and Odors From Clothes

8 Tricks To Get Rid Of Stubborn Underarm Stains and Odors From Clothes

Has this ever happened: You’ve laundered your favorite shirt, and everything looks and smells clean until the iron hits the armpits, or you wear the garment again, and… whew! There’s that stinky odor!

Even the cleanest people can develop stains and odors in the armpits of their shirts. Even some antiperspirants can leaave stains. So how do you get rid of them? Regular washing doesn’t work; the garment needs to be treated. Here are a few tricks of the trade to power away those embedded underarm stains and smells from fabrics.

Tricks To Get Rid Of Stubborn Underarm Stains and Odors From Clothes

Each of these remedies works best if you turn the garment inside out and expose the underarm fabric before treating. These remedies are best used on shirts that can be handled a little “roughly”

1. Aspirin and Cream of Tartar

Mix three white, non-coated aspirin tablets with a cup of warm water and a tablespoon of cream of tartar (you probably have a can in your kitchen cupboard!). Scrub the solution into the underarm area with a nailbrush or old toothbrush, then allow the mixture to remain on the garment for at least 20 minutes. Launder as usual. Repeat, if necessary.

2. Baking Soda

baking soda uses - box of baking soda

Seriously, what can’t baking soda do? It’s is great for neutralizing strong perspiration odors that are embedded in fabrics. Make a paste with baking soda and warm water, then rub the paste into the problem areas. Leave the paste on the garment for 15 minutes, or allow it to remain overnight. Launder as usual. Some have found luck with a paste of baking soda and Dawn dish soap, following the instructions above. But test for colorfastness first.

3. Salt

cleaning salt

Dissolve a ½ cup of table salt in a bucket or large bowl half-full of warm water. Soak the affected areas of the garment, then launder.

4. White Vinegar

White vinegar is a powerful odor neutralizer and works wonders on underarm areas of fabrics. Fill your washing machine with water, then add 1/3 cup of white vinegar. Turn off the machine and let the garment soak for 20 minutes, then launder as usual.

5. Washing Soda

Sprinkle a ¼ cup of washing soda (sodium carbonate, not sodium bicarbonate) onto the affected area. Be sure to wear rubber gloves. Add water to make a paste and work it in with gloved hands. Leave the paste on the affected area for 30 minutes. Launder as usual.

6. Mouthwash

Listerine® or Scope® work well on underarm fabric odors. Simply pour several capfuls on the armpit areas, wait 30 minutes, then launder as usual. You might want to test it first if you’re going to use mouthwash on white garments.

7. Murphy’s® Oil Soap

Pour the oil soap directly on the armpit which has been dampened with water, and use a nail brush or old toothbrush to scrub it in. Leave on for 20 minutes then rinse in cool water, then launder.

8. Meat Tenderizer

This remedy might sound a little strange but meat tenderizer works by “digesting” or breaking down the chemicals that are embedded in the fabric from underarm odors. Simply dampen the armpit area with water and sprinkle generously with the meat tenderizer. Work it in with your fingers and allow it to sit for 20 minutes. Then launder.

Be sure the stains and odors are gone before tossing any garment in the dryer,

Be sure the stains and odors are gone before tossing any garment in the dryer, which will further set the unwanted stains and smells. Line drying clothing may also help eliminate odors.

Preventive Advice

All-natural fabrics are more breathable than synthetic fabrics, so be sure to choose fabrics made from cotton, wool, bamboo or silk, and avoid polyester and rayon. Allow perspiration to evaporate before tossing any garment in the dirty laundry basket or rehanging. And be sure to wash all of your clothing regularly.

What are your tricks for removing tough underarm stains and odors from fabrics?

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  • Deb Peters says:

    My husband used t ih play baseball and nothing worked to get the odor out. One evening I had forgotten to bring his shirts in off the line and we had a thunderstorm. The next day the shirts were odorless.

  • Kim says:

    Another consideration is try to avoid the stains and odor by putting disposable armpit guards in your clothes. They are like really thin maxi pads that stick into the armpit of the shirt.

  • Cathy Martin says:

    Thanks for all the tips!

  • Peggy Mulkey Lemming says:

    Oxyclean max force spray helps a lot for removing bad body odors. I also use oxy lean detergent. Downy fresh protect crystals also help. Just wish I could remove the body odor permanently.

  • Linda says:

    What would you suggest for underarm shirt odors that smell rancid due to the natural deodorant I use that contains some oil? It’s not a human BO smell but very sour and rancid and gaurenteed from the deodorant.

    • Susan Higgins says:

      Hi Linda, any of these tricks work, but try mixing a paste of baking soda and Dawn dish soap. Let it sit for about an hour, then rinse in a sink, then launder.

    • Karen Brown says:

      Dawn is just marvelous stuff, isn’t it! So many uses! I figured out that it would make my new bathtub shiny and clean it gently, and remove slippery residue from shower gels.

  • Anne Popovich says:

    I gave up on deodorants because they ruined my clothes and the waxy build up was hards to remove from the arm pits and made odors even worse. A client of mine who had breast cancer history in her family and avoided deodorants because of the aluminum in them, told me she used ordinary baking soda on her armpits. This lady was very elegant and wore beautiful clothes. I tried it and found that I no longer had perspiration odor or wax build up on clothes. I would suggest not to use the baking soda after shaving because it could sting a bit. I have sensitive skin but this has been a god send to me.

  • Asia says:

    Guys try zonrox colored care.it’s really best for smelly clothes especially in under arms areas.same with your under garments panties,briefs etc.you can put the liquid directly on the smelly areas then soak it overnight or 3 hrs.it’s worth trying.!

  • Sam says:

    I see many people complaining it doesn’t work… Yes sweat is a hard thing to get out, especially when built up. Y’all also need to come to a realization that what you eat causes bad body odor. Maybe looking into what you’re eating and seeing if a specific thing may cause your body odor to smell more. Do an armpit/full body detox. Yes, it’s not a fix all, but actually paying attention to your body and just keeping up with the problem areas with the laundry when it happens can help.

    • fdsfsd says:

      Your under arms do not need to be “detoxified.” That is a completely baseless idea used and perpetuated by idiots to sell useless products to other idiots. YES! your diet affects your ‘smell’ but your liver does a great job of removing “toxins” from your body. If you could please identify the exact toxin you’re talking about, as well as molecular structure, that would be great. I would love to be the one taking credit for this novel scientific discovery. If you have toxins usually processed by the liver in your lymphatic system (what produces underarm sweat) GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM IMMEDIATELY.

  • Cortney says:

    I know that play companies use isopropyl to spray garments, but was informed this is just temporary so I could see that not actually working long term… to kill any odors.

    I would air dry any garments and rewash them if they aren’t actually clean (dryers set in stains; they probably set in odors as well).

  • Lucia says:

    Hi Susan,

    No, these “remedies” mentioned above simply don’t work. It seems to me that what’s happening here is just copying/linking information from dubious websites such as the one on this link (https://www.livestrong.com/article/173422-how-to-stop-sweat-marks/) which bumps to the other website that says much but nothing really tested true and tells things such as “Choose an antiperspirant with 10 to 15 percent aluminum chloride hexahydrate” REALLY? Sadly, Almanac has really caught up with this age of unchecked information – which is truly gross misinformation. The only product that truly works is NO MORE and I don’t leave the name of it here because its travesty is now on the market, with same name and different label design – and of course new ownership. I don’t want to give an impression that I am promoting it. The new company producing it has an Asian and what they are putting on the market just some kind of soap in a (for soap) tiny bottle. Truly disgusting and sad that we no longer have good information as the old time Almanac used to provide and products that really work. Not even mention good service.

    • Susan Higgins says:

      Hi Lucia, I’m sorry you feel so unhappy about our site and our story. But I have to strongly disagree with you. We are a small team but we work HARD to bring our readers the best information. If you can tell me what results you had (I’m assuming you tried them all), maybe I can help resolve it. It may have been the wrong remedy for the type of shirt. I found with a rayon blouse I got at the secondhand store, the vinegar remedy didn’t work as well as the aspirin remedy.

  • Tori says:

    At the end of your article you say rayon is a synthetic fiber to be avoided. It is not synthetic, it’s made of wood pulp.

  • Mikel G says:

    This trick did not work for me. Tide barely works (not an ad). I have pastey sweat that lingers in shirts. One reason Summer is awful for me. The other is Heat Intolerance sweating. Should I just buy new shirts every week? I vinegared, boiled, added baking soda, washing soda, powder detergents, oversoaped, laundry sanitizer, scent beads… you name it, I tried it. HELP!!!!!!

    • Susan Higgins says:

      Hi Mike G. Which trick? There are a few here. Try them all. The aspirin one works great!

    • Amy says:

      Try washing your armpits with antibacterial soap like Cetaphil. The smell is caused by bacteria in the pore. I works really well.

    • Jolene says:

      Or wash with Hibiclens. It can be found at any drugstore.

  • Zuzia says:

    Are all of those remedies are good for white and color ? My son has a very bad sweat odor and now its even worse because he is going thru puberty and he has a lot of black tshirts and other colors, so i don’t want the color to fade on underarmpit area

  • Chris says:

    I have been using diluted Dawn dish detergent to remove odors. I squirt some on the affected areas and work it in. Let it sit awhile then launder. (No need to add more detergent). This removes old antiperspirant residue also. I also use Dawn occasionally to remove the buildup from fabric softener. The buildup can inhibit your natural fabrics from breathing. It also helps remove our natural body oils from fabrics. Just don’t use too much especially with H E washers! Works great on both natural and synthetic fibers.

  • TCisme says:

    Murphy Oil soap leaves the worse after smell. When you get hot it makes it even stronger. Save yourself from further embarassment. If you use Murphy’syou may as well throw everything away!

  • Cynthia says:

    I tried the vinegar solution for an odor that wouldn’t come out of a t-shirt, and it worked!

    Thank you.

  • Jane says:

    Ever since I stopped using anti-perspirants, and went to natural deodorants, all my tops started smelling if I sniffed in the armpit area, especially the right arm pit area. It is more strong on that side for some reason- the left side has no smell. Why my right arm pit? I never had an issue with anti-perspirants for 20 years. Maybe I should go back to anti-perspirants.

    Also, women tend to smell more strong in underarms than men. Men have a different type of smell.

    • Susan Higgins says:

      Hi Jane, it’s really based on body chemistry. Because antiperspirants target sweat, and sweat develops odor when exposed to air, your body is back to sweating again. Have you tried a mineral salts deodorant stone? Check ours out here.

    • Nikki says:

      I had this problem too, couldn’t figure out why one armpit smelled more. Turns out I was putting more deodorant on one side without realizing.

  • Erin Fleury says:

    Just noticed this same article with the exact same wording on the livestrong.com website but by a different author. Who plagiarized who 😉

  • CC says:

    Someone said isopropyl works but I’m wearing a shirt right now that I treated with alcohol and I’m afraid to move my arms. The armpits stink and I took a shower right before I put the shirt on. I’ve only had it on for 2 hours and I applied crystal deodorant to my armpits after my shower, so I know it’s not from my sweat. I’m gonna try the other remedies listed, ‘cause alcohol doesn’t work.

    • Susan Higgins says:

      Hi CC, I once bought a beautiful shirt at a second hand store and the same thing happened to me. You really have to remove all former (and stubborn) perspiration residue, and it requires a bit of in-depth treatment. Give those remedies a try. Good luck!

  • Cynthia says:

    Time to buy a new shirt.

  • Ken says:

    I use borax, it works great.

  • Ken says:

    I use borax, it works great

  • Elizabeth Spivey says:

    I use a crystal deodorant under regular deodorant this prevents the odor to begin with. Crystal deodorant is also good for children use I believe since it is natural.

  • Am says:

    There are drinks like coffee that cause body odor toxic for some people try eliminating for awhile .

  • m.b. says:

    I recently found out that isopropyl alcohol removes b.o. smell from my shirts that has been present in those shirts for years. I’ve thrown clothes away because I couldn’t get the smell out, washing didn’t seem to help, the smell would come out of the washed fabric when my body heat warmed it up… After struggling for years with this after I stopped using aluminum deodorants, it turns out the solution is cheap and easy. I put the alcohol on a rag and soak it into the underarm area. When the alcohol dries up the smell is gone, there’s no alcohol smell, and I don’t even need to wash the shirt after treatment.

  • Wendy says:

    I’ve found lavender essential oil added 8 – 10 drops to the wash gets rid of body odor

  • Karen Nowak says:

    I pretty much live in white pants in the summer and have dealt with some pretty stubborn stains. Even though I am mentioning a name brand product, I hope you post this. This is ONLY for white clothes now, but Clorox Cleanup spritzed on the affected area and allowed to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before laundering works like magic.

  • Rebecca Wilson says:

    I tried a paste of borax and water on old, set in underarm stains on a white tee shirt. Rubbed it all over the stains, let it sit for awhile, then laundered in hot water. The shirt is almost as white as new.

  • Diane says:

    My husband has some shirts that have strong body ordor, but these shirts have been washed and dried the usual way many times. Is it safe to assume that nothing will remove the odor now?

  • Susan Higgins says:

    Nancy, any of these remedies should work. Sweat stains and odors color tshirts that dingy yellow color, so many of these remedies address this. Good Luck!

  • nancy giglio says:

    I need to know how to get sweat stains and sunscreen stains out of white clothes.

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