Farmers Almanac
The Farmers Almanac
Now Shipping!
The 2019 Almanac! Order Today

8 Tricks To Get Rid Of Stubborn Underarm Odors From Clothes

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Pinterest Share on LinkedIn Subscribe by Email Print This Post
8 Tricks To Get Rid Of Stubborn Underarm 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… phew! There’s that stinky odor! How do you get rid of it? Regular washing doesn’t work. Here are a few tricks of the trade to power away those embedded underarm smells from fabrics!

Get Rid Of Stubborn Underarm Odors From Clothes

Each of these remedies works best if you turn the garment inside out and expose the underarm fabric before treating.

  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 nail brush 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 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.
  3. Salt. Dissolve 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. 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 ¼ cup of washing soda (sodium carbonate, not sodium bi-carbonate) 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.
  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. 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, which will further set the unwanted stains and smells. Line drying clothing may also help eliminate odors.

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.

(Continued Below)

Note: These remedies are based on shirts that can handle a little “tough love.” Obviously, if you have similar problem areas on delicate fabrics, you might want to research the care for the specific fabric.

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

Articles you might also like...


1 Susan Higgins { 02.04.19 at 1:53 pm }

Hi Cynthia, we’re glad our tips were useful! Thanks for commenting!

2 Cynthia { 02.01.19 at 7:35 pm }

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

Thank you.

3 Jane { 10.20.18 at 11:04 am }

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.

4 Susan Higgins { 06.25.18 at 1:25 pm }

Hi Erin, since we published this article back in 2015, and the article was published in 2017, we have our answer! Although we aren’t seeing any plagiarism. The articles appear very different, just offering the same remedies.

5 Erin Fleury { 06.24.18 at 3:23 pm }

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

6 Susan Higgins { 04.27.18 at 8:44 am }

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!

7 CC { 04.26.18 at 3:15 pm }

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.

8 Cynthia { 01.15.18 at 1:37 pm }

Time to buy a new shirt.

9 Ken { 09.23.17 at 10:22 pm }

I use borax, it works great.

10 Ken { 09.23.17 at 10:21 pm }

I use borax, it works great

11 Elizabeth Spivey { 02.15.17 at 8:11 am }

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.

12 Am { 01.30.17 at 1:07 pm }

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

13 Karajane { 01.05.17 at 4:42 pm }

Is the alcohol okay to use on both whites and colors??

14 Denise { 09.22.16 at 9:34 pm }

I will definitely try this, it just sounds crazy enough to work, running out of options. Thanks

15 m.b. { 09.01.16 at 5:36 pm }

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.

16 Wendy { 07.09.16 at 10:04 pm }

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

17 Karen Nowak { 07.09.16 at 8:59 pm }

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.

18 Rebecca Wilson { 07.09.16 at 8:14 pm }

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.

19 Diane { 05.05.16 at 2:29 pm }

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?

20 Susan Higgins { 11.22.15 at 11:34 pm }

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!

21 nancy giglio { 10.20.15 at 8:52 pm }

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

Leave a Comment

Note: Comments that further the discussion of the above content are likely to be approved. Those comments that are vague or are simply submitted in order to promote a product, service or web site, although not necessarily considered "spam," are generally not approved.

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

Spring Is Here – Sign Up Today!

The Farmers' Almanac is a gardener's best friend. Get 365 days of access to our online weather and gardening calendars + a copy of the 2017 Almanac
for only $13.99 $11.99!

Subscribe Today »