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How to Remove Sweat & Body Odors from Clothes

It's hard to keep clothes smelling fresh in hot weather – discover our essential guide to removing sweat & body odors from clothes.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

Written by Eunice Samson

Images of white shirt, read on to learn how to remove perspiration odours from clothes

In hot climates like the Philippines, perspiration is an unavoidable part of daily life! This article will tell you how to remove sweat odor on clothes effectively.

Sweating is our body’s natural way of maintaining a regular temperature. However, in a hot and humid climate ­­– thanks to a build up of perspiration, deodorant or antiperspirant, and detergent – sweat odor can linger on clothing. This means that no matter how carefully you launder them; it can be impossible to get your garments smelling fresh.

Follow these useful tips on how to remove sweat odor from clothes, so they smell clean and fresh even on the hottest days of the year.

Want to avoid long-lasting sweat odor on your clothes? The longer you leave sweaty garments in the laundry basket, the harder it is to remove stubborn perspiration smells from your clothes. Damp and sweaty clothes can also breed bacteria when you leave them unwashed, leaving clothes even smellier.

How to Remove Perspiration Odor from Clothes

Pre-treat problem areas

  • Sweat odor and perspiration stains can build up on your clothes, particularly in areas such as the armpits, groin, and neck. By pre-treating the stains, you will remove the perspiration odor at the source. To look for build up, turn garments inside out and check the fabric for discoloration or a slightly greasy or waxy texture.

  • White vinegar can help to neutralize and remove perspiration odor from clothes. Add one cup of white vinegar to a tub of warm, clean water, and soak garments for two or three hours before you wash them in the machine on their usual cycle.

Remove Stubborn Perspiration Odors from Clothes with Aspirin

  • Really stubborn sweat odor stains can be a headache, so grab an aspirin! Not just for aches and pains, the salicylic acid in aspirin will penetrate deep into the fabric to break down the proteins in the stain. Crush a couple of uncoated aspirin tablets and mix with warm water to form a thick paste. Work the paste directly into the stain, rubbing gently so as not to damage the fibres. Leave to sit for up to one hour, then launder your clothes as usual.

  • Remember, before using any new cleaning method, you should always test it out on an inconspicuous area, such as an inside hem or cuff.

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Try a Fragranced Laundry Detergent

  • Using a scented biological detergent, such as Surf concentrated laundry liquid, in your washing machine will not only remove stubborn sweat odors and perspiration stains from clothes, it will also leave your outfits smelling fresh. Remember; always follow the care instructions on your garment’s label to ensure the best results.

Give the Dryer a Break

  • If possible, line dry your laundry rather than using a tumble drier. Not only will it save on your utility bills, but tumble driers can lock stubborn sweat odor into your clothes.

  • Pre-treat sweat odor stains using a white vinegar soak. Try aspirin to break down stubborn perspiration stain build up.

  • Use a fragranced laundry detergent, such as Surf, to remove perspiration odor from clothes.

  • Avoid using a tumble drier, which can lock stubborn sweat odor into fabric.

Do you want to learn which household cleaning tasks cause the most stress?  Then read our Heated Household data analysis. 

Frequently asked questions on removing sweat odors from clothes

Why do my shirts smell sour when I sweat?

Discovering your clothing beginning to smell when you sweat can be a mix of things. If it is your clothing causing the smell, it could be because they have not been washed properly or they have been put away whilst still damp. Try to avoid overloading your machine, use a good quality detergent, and always fully dry your laundry before putting it away. Alternatively, the smell could be caused by your sweat mixing with skin bacteria. This can be avoided by keeping the area clean and dry.

Is boiling clothes to remove odor effective?

Boiling laundry can help to remove mold spores, which are more often than not are the cause of musty odors. This isn't something that should be done to your clothing, however. Most clothing cannot withstand the heat, so only boil sturdier items such as towels and sheets.

How do you get rid of hard deodorant build up on clothes?

There are some super easy steps for how to get rid of hard deodorant build up on clothes and all you need is an old, clean toothbrush and white vinegar. First, soak the stained area in white vinegar for an hour. Next, brush the deodorant stain with the toothbrush. Once this process has been followed, simply wash the clothing as normal.

Will salicylic acid stain clothes?

Yes, salicylic acid can stain clothes. While it is often used by people for conditions such as acne - and can be found in some exfoliants too - it should be used with caution. Take care to only use it on the area you are treating, as while it is safe for skin it can bleach clothing and other fabrics on contact.

Originally published