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How to get rid of sweat stains from white shirts and other clothes

Sweat stains can ruin your favourite clothes, but don’t panic. Our handy guide will show you how to get rid of sweat stains for good and keep the yellow at bay.

Updated By Cleanipedia Team

A white shirt with a yellow armpit stain
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Sweat stains aren’t exactly nice to think about, but they’re even less appealing to experience. Did you know that with the right techniques and products, you can easily remove sweat stains from clothes, sparing your most loved clothing from the bin and allowing you to wear your favourite pieces again with pride.

In this super simple guide, we’ll show you how to get rid of sweat stains, banish the yellow and freshen up your clothes.

Pre-treating stains is key if you want to remove yellow armpit stains. Always read the instructions on any cleaning product you use and test the solution on an inconspicuous area first.
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RequiredPersil Bio & Persil Ultimate Non-Bio
Persil Bio & Persil Ultimate Non-Bio Bottle
  • Soft bristled brush
  • Cold water
  • Liquid detergent
  • White vinegar

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How to remove yellow stains from white shirt or other clothes

Whether you need to know how to get rid of yellow stains on white clothes or even other items found in your wardrobe, we’ve got you covered. Simply read on for our easy step-by-step guide to remove yellow armpit stains in no time at all.

Steps to remove yellow armpit stains:

  1. Don’t let the stain set in.

    The best way to remove yellow stains from a white shirt or other items of clothing is to deal with them as soon as possible. The longer you leave it, the harder it will be to remove, and you run the risk of the sweat stain turning yellow. Simply run the armpit of your garment under cold water to rinse out the sweat and leave it to dry before adding it to your regular wash.

    Step 1: Using water to rinse a stain out of a white garment
  2. Pre-treat the sweat stains.

    Removing yellow stains from clothes will be made so much simpler with a pre-treatment. Start by adding a small amount of liquid detergent to the affected area. Use a soft-bristled brush such as a toothbrush, or your fingertips, to gently rub the detergent over the stain. Leave it to soak for 30 minutes then wash as normal. This works particularly well with darker shirts that might not have the unsightly yellow stains but will still have stiffness or residue left from sweat.

    Step 2: Using laundry detergent to pre-treat a white garment
  3. Use the correct laundry detergent.

    This is an essential factor to successfully remove yellow armpit stains. Yellow sweat stains are caused by a combination of proteins in sweat with the chemicals in deodorant. Luckily, most biological laundry detergents are formulated to dissolve protein-based stains like sweat and will help to reduce those unsightly yellow patches. Check that the stain has been removed before you dry it, otherwise, it can set the stain.

    Add a cup of vinegar to your wash along with laundry detergent to help remove any lingering sweat smells.

    Step 3: Selecting laundry detergent before machine washing a white garment
  4. Dry your garment naturally.

    Try to dry your item outside on a sunny day. The UV in sunlight is one of the best ways to naturally bleach your whites and works as an all-natural stain remover. If traces of the stain remain after treatment, leave the clothing in direct sunlight, spraying with water occasionally to help the sweat ‘tide line’ evaporate.

    Whilst UV is a great stain remover, it can cause coloured clothes to fade, so these items are best line-dried indoors or in the tumble drier.

    Step 4: Line drying a white T-shirt outside

How to get rid of sweat stains naturally

Whether you’re running low on cleaning products or prefer to opt for a natural solution, you’ve come to the right place. You’ll be pleased to know we have tips for how to get yellow stains out of white clothes with some easy-to-make home remedies.

To ensure these home remedies are suitable for the fabric you’re treating, always test out on a small, inconspicuous area first, as some ingredients, like baking soda, can be quite abrasive.

  1. Baking soda

    Mix some baking powder with water to create a thick paste. Apply the paste to the stain using a toothbrush or your gloved fingers, and leave for 20 minutes to work in. Tougher stains may require the paste to be left on for up to a couple of hours. Wash the garment on a cold cycle with a biological laundry detergent.

  2. White distilled vinegar

    Combine 2 tablespoons of white vinegar with 1 cup of water and apply to the stain. Soak for 30 minutes before putting on a suitable wash. For a heavier stain, mix a 1:1 solution of vinegar and water, scrubbing the stain with an old, clean toothbrush first, then wash as normal, using a quality laundry detergent, such as Persil Bio. Be sure to follow the directions of the label of your detergent.

  3. Salt

    A kitchen staple and a great all-rounder at removing blood, sweat and grease stains from clothes. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of salt in 1 cup of water and use this solution to sponge away at the stain. After removing the stain, you can wash the clothes as normal.

  4. Lemon

    Citrus acts as a natural bleaching agent and has many amazing cleaning properties. Squeeze the juice from a lemon and mix with equal parts water, rubbing into the stain before washing on a suitable cycle. Curious about what else you can clean with lemons? Read our top lemon cleaning tips.

How to prevent sweat stains and keep white clothing white

Knowing how to remove yellow stains from white clothes is only half the story. When it comes to sweat stains, the best course of action is prevention. After all, prevention is always better than cure. In fact, it’s even easier our simple guide on how to get rid of sweat stains. Read on for our quick tips that, if practised, could save you a whole lot of bother.

  1. Allow your deodorant to dry properly.

    Always ensure your deodorant is dry before getting dressed. This way it’ll be absorbed by your skin, and not the clothing fabric, which tends to act like a sponge.

  2. Use deodorant sparingly.

    Excessive amounts will be less likely to dry and more likely to be absorbed by your garment. When this begins to set in it can cause the fabric to turn yellow.

  3. Invest in a stain-prevention deodorant.

    There are many deodorants on the market that are specially formulated to prevent sweat stains from developing after use. Shop around and choose the one that best suits you, especially if you’re used to wearing light colours where a yellow stain would be more noticeable.

  4. Wear an undergarment like a t-shirt under your white shirts or tops.

    This will help to prevent any sweat from causing yellow staining. A light-weight cotton one will allow your underarms to breathe.

  5. Tackle a yellow stain ASAP.

    If you’ve noticed your whites beginning to show signs of yellow staining, wash them as soon as possible. In doing so you can help to prevent sweat from setting in and forming dried-in, yellow stains which are harder to remove. A biological detergent will help break down the stain.

  6. Use hydrogen peroxide to keep your whites, white.

    Wondering how to get yellow stains out of white clothes? Using just a little hydrogen peroxide works wonders to restore your whites back to their original brightness in no time. Take care when using this product, and always follow the safety instructions on the packet. For more advice on achieving a good-as-new look to your white clothing, check out our guide for how to make white clothes white again.

    As it contains harsh chemicals, it’s not safe to use on coloured or delicate fabrics like silk or wool.

  7. Don’t let sweat stains build up from repeated wear.

    Treat sweat stains as soon as they start to appear for a better chance of beating the stain. There are many quick remedies you can use.

  8. Wear breathable fabrics like cotton or linen.

    Manufactured fibres like polyester or nylon will increase the likelihood of you sweating, which in turn can lead to those unwanted stains you’re trying to avoid.

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See, it’s as simple as that. With just a few top tips, tricks, and super easy steps to follow, our guide has shown you everything you need to learn how to get rid of sweat stains. Looking for more fabric-specific advice? Why not look at this handy stain removal guide? It's full of quick remedies to restore your clothes to tip-top condition.

Frequently asked questions about how to get rid of sweat stains

What causes yellow armpit stains?

Many sweat stains on shirts in the underarm are caused by aluminium compounds in antiperspirant, which react with the salts in your sweat. Gradually, the yellowing builds up on fabrics leaving an unsightly and often stubborn stain.

How do you get rid of new sweat stains?

The steps for how to remove yellow stains from a white shirt are simple. If the stain hasn’t set in, run it under cold water to flush out the stain, leave to dry and wash as normal.

How do you remove yellow armpit stains that haven’t come out in the wash?

These are more stubborn stains to remove and will require a bit more effort than simply flushing them through with cold water. When looking for solutions on how to get yellow sweat stains out of white shirts and other clothing that has set in, use neat liquid laundry detergent directly on the stain, leave it to work for 30 minutes and wash as normal. Luckily, modern biological laundry detergents are formulated to dissolve protein-based stains, so this is sure to do the trick.

Do natural remedies remove yellow armpit stains as well as commercial products?

Whether you’re looking for more eco-friendly options or you’re simply out of your usual go-to products at home, natural home remedies are a great alternative. From lemon juice to salt and even baking soda you can use our guide to remove sweat stains from clothes in no time.

What is the best way to dry sweat stained clothing?

If you have taken steps to remove sweat stains from clothes, but notice a slight mark still left on your clothing we recommend you dry your clothing in the sun to allow a natural bleaching process.

Originally published