How to Remove and Prevent Yellow Armpit Stains

by Brett on April 3, 2012 · 178 comments

in Dress & Grooming, Style

It’s a sartorial problem that many men have, but few talk about. Yellow armpit stains.

You or someone you know has probably suffered the shame and embarrassment of wearing a dress shirt with dingy yellow stains radiating from the armpits. Instead of your office mates listening in awe as you tell them about the fish you caught that “was this big!” they’re staring at your eye-catching golden pits. When your gal asks to wear your sport coat to keep warm while you walk on a cool night, you balk, knowing that your yellow armpits of shame will be revealed. Missing out on a chance to be chivalrous…that’s the pits.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Are you ready to once again experience the joy and exhilaration of giving a confident, unabashed high-five in a shirt and tie? Would you like to save money by restoring your shirts to pristine whiteness instead of having to buy new ones?

Today we’re going to show you how you can easily remove yellow armpit stains and what you can do to prevent them. High-five!

What Causes Yellow Armpit Stains?

Sorry Pitstains. It isn't a gland problem.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not your sweat itself that causes yellow stains. Most experts agree that that culprit behind your yellow pits is the aluminum used in antiperspirants combined with your sweat. Can you believe that? The very substance that keeps your pits nice and dry also wreaks havoc on your shirts. This presents a bit of a Catch-22. While foregoing antiperspirants can eliminate the risk of yellow stains later on, you’ll have to manage the wet semi-circles due to excessive sweating in the short-term.

How to Remove Yellow Armpit Stains

There are lots of “Grandma Tricks” out there on how to remove yellow armpit stains. I tried a few of them on a white dress shirt that had over six years of pit stain build-up in the armpits. The only time I wear this shirt is when I’m wearing a suit coat, and I make sure to leave the coat on even if it’s hotter than a football practice in the middle of the day during an Oklahoma heatwave in August. I don’t know why I held on to this shirt. It’s pretty nasty.  Maybe my subconscious knew I was going to write a post about removing pit stains one day.

Here are the results of my experiment:

Bleach

Don’t even try.

I didn’t try using bleach, but I thought I should mention this method first. For some guys, the natural response to fighting yellow stains is to just use lots of bleach. Don’t do it. It will actually make your pit stains even more yellow.

Ammonia+Dishwashing Soap

Will this dynamic duo destroy my armpit stains?

Result: Fail

The University of Illinois Extension Stain Solutions Department (yes, there’s really a university department dedicated to fighting stains) recommends a pit stain removing regimen that consists of scraping off any residue from the shirt with a dull butter knife and then soaking the stained areas in a quart of lukewarm water, half a teaspoon of dishwashing detergent, and one tablespoon ammonia for 15 minutes. While it’s soaking, you gently rub the stain from the back to loosen it up and then soak for another 15 minutes. Rinse and launder.

Yellow stain in ammonia and dishwasher detergent.

After: This just made the yellow stain angry.

I had high hopes for this method, but alas, I was disappointed. The yellow stain didn’t diminish at all. In fact, it started to look even worse than before. I don’t recommend this method.

OxiClean

Result: Success!

OxiClean, the miracle cleaner pitched by the best beard in infomercial history (RIP Billy Mays), claims that it can remove the stubbornest of yellow armpit stains. I put that claim to the test.

All you have to do is fill up a sink with warm water and mix it with one scoop of OxiClean. Place your blighted shirt in the sink, making sure the yellow stains are completely submerged. For mild stains, just let the shirt sit for an hour; for DEFCON 5 stains, let your shirt sit overnight. After you’re done soaking, rinse your shirt and launder as usual.

Because my experiment shirt still had yellow pit stains, I used it in the OxiClean experiment. I followed the directions on the box. The one thing I did differently was actually rub a thick mixture of OxiClean and water on the stain before putting it in the more diluted mixture. Why? I don’t know. It seemed like it would do something.  I let the shirt sit overnight. After waking up from dreams of battling a sleuth of cyborg bears in a jai alai death match, I went to check on my shirt. The intense yellow stains that once graced my pits had nearly vanished. I rinsed the shirt off and threw it into the wash. When I took it out, the stains were pretty much gone. Six years of yellow pit stains were blasted away with just a scoop of OxiClean and a little help from the ghost of Billy Mays’ beard.

Before soaking in the OxiClean mixture, I rubbed some of the powder directly on the stain. I have no scientific evidence that this does anything. Just seemed like it might help.

A six year stain, practically all gone.

OxiClean is color safe, so you can take care of those yellow stains on your blue oxford shirts, too. The only precaution to keep in mind when using OxiClean on color clothing is that some clothing fades more easily when using products like OxiClean. Test for colorfastness in an inconspicuous area before using the product.

Raise Yellow Stain Remover

Result: Success

There are a few products on the market that are specifically formulated to remove yellow pit stains. I ordered a bottle of one these products. It’s called Raise. A 12 ounce bottle costs $12.50 plus shipping. To use it, you simply lay your shirt on a towel and apply a bit of Raise on the armpit stains, brush the stain a bit, and then let sit for 15-20 minutes. Finish everything off by laundering as usual.

Because my original experiment shirt had been cured of its yellow armpit stains, I unearthed another white shirt that had some medium staining to test out Raise.

Raise Before

Raise After

I followed the directions on the bottle. When I took my shirt out of the wash, the stain had faded but was still a little visible. Perhaps if I applied Raise more liberally and let it sit for longer, I would have seen better results. But overall, I wasn’t completely happy with the product. Oxiclean and Raise had about the same results, but Oxiclean was tasked with cleaning up a stain that was ten times worse.

Final Recommendation: OxiClean

OxiClean works. It’s simple, cheaper than Raise, and can take care of the gnarliest armpit stains. Plus, you can use it to clean a million other things.

How to Prevent Yellow Armpit Stains

So we know we can remove armpit stains if we need to. But it’s probably more time and cost effective to prevent them from appearing in the first place. As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of yellowed armpits,” or something like that. There are a few things you can do to prevent yellow armpit stains from forming in the first place.

Wear an undershirt. Just simply wearing an undershirt can work for some men. The extra layer between their skin and a nice dress shirt is all that’s needed to prevent the yellow menace from forming in their axial region. If regular undershirts aren’t cutting it for you, you can always try some specialty undershirts with sweat guards built in.

Unfortunately, for many men, an undershirt isn’t enough to prevent the dreaded pit stain. For these men, other actions are required.

Stop using aluminum antiperspirants. As we mentioned above, the biggest culprit for yellow armpit stains is your sweat mixing with the aluminum in antiperspirants.  So naturally, if you want to banish yellow pit stains, you’ll need to stop using aluminum-based antiperspirants. But it’s somewhat of a Faustian choice between swamp pits or yellow stains.

Use a stain prevention antiperspirant. The deodorant and antiperspirant industry has been in an arms race against yellow pit stains for the past few years. Recognizing that their product may be contributing to yellow stains, antiperspirant companies have been spending big money figuring out how to provide wetness protection and prevent yellow stains from forming. Speed Stick has an antiperspirant on the market that claims to keep wetness at bay while preventing yellow stains.

Use deodorant + Gold Bond. One way to get dryness protection while avoiding the risk of yellow stains is to use your regular odor preventing deodorant in conjunction with some Gold Bond powder (you should have some in your cabinet–it’s one of the 5 Products No Man’s Bathroom Should Be Without). The Gold Bond does a good job at stopping wetness without using stain-causing aluminum salts. Plus, it feels invigoratingly good.

Keep your pits trimmed. You don’t need to shave them, but keeping your pit hair trimmed can help reduce wetness and the need for antiperspirants.

Wash shirts immediately after wearing them. Stains are harder to remove once they set, so the sooner you wash your shirts, the less likely it is that stains will form. Before you put your shirts in the wash, rub some detergent, stain remover, OxiClean into the pits.

Do you have any other tips on removing or preventing yellow armpit stains? Share them with us in the comments!

{ 178 comments… read them below or add one }

101 tug April 12, 2012 at 1:09 am

great stuff!

definitely with brett on the “wear an undershirt” thing :)

there are undershirts with pads sewn in like advadri and kleinerts, but there are also some newer, more advanced undershirts like the tompson tee that prevent sweat through as well. i have a full list of them on my site.

i haven’t tried raise stain remover yet, but it looks like it worked pretty good. i get mixed results from readers about using oxi-clean, although i suppose it has a lot to do with how severe the stain is.

i have used, tested, and reviewed deo-go (a similar product to raise) nearly a couple years ago and it worked too.

as for minimizing underarm sweating, in addition to certain dri, folks may want to take a look at sweatblock or klima antiperspirant. both designed as extra-strong antiperspirants.

102 Drew April 12, 2012 at 2:29 pm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DEFCON

DEFCON 5 would be next to no stain at all. DEFCON 1 would be soaking overnight.

103 Tony April 13, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Hmm… interesting. Some of my mostly-white collared shirts have begun to develop some rather gnarly collar stains. I imagine the removal techniques would probably be pretty similar, but I’m curious if anyone’s got any tips on prevention of collar staining. It’s not like I’m using aluminum-based antiperspirants on my neck, and a turtleneck undershirt would probably A) look tacky and B) not be the best idea now that it’s warming up…

104 Jason Fedelem April 15, 2012 at 9:37 pm

According to my wife, OxiClean is essentially powdered Hydrogen Peroxide. It would be interesting to see the effect of hydrogen peroxide on the stains

105 Jody April 17, 2012 at 4:19 pm

When I was in the Navy and we had those white cotton uniforms (which I had to wear while standing gate guard duty), I washed them with Simple Green. It prevented yellowing and would get out pretty much any stains, including from sweat and general industrial grime. Plus since it was readily on hand in the nearest maintenance closet because the Navy uses it to clean pretty much everything, it was free.

106 Rod @ Anonymous Browsing April 18, 2012 at 6:52 am

What was the name of that kid show with the villain called “Pitstain”? Was it Pete and Pete?

107 Erik April 18, 2012 at 10:03 am

Since discovering traditional wetshaving, I’ve been using alum block as a deodorant and as a hair product (works well to give body to short hair, without any greasy residue. Apparently this was common in the 1950s. I really recommend it actually. I’ve got fine, flat, greasy hair, so it’s pretty much perfect for fixing all of that). Anyway, I digress. I’ve noted that my shirts do appear more yellow, but I thought that was just the laundry I’d switched to. Anyone have any comments on this? (Don’t make me give up alum block: you can shave with it, deodorize with it, style your hair with it … I know, it’s too good to be true!)

108 Phil April 19, 2012 at 8:56 am

I was also wondering about “ring around the collar”. I have an awesome shirt that is blue gingham pattern with a white collar, and there is some discoloration on the collar. Any tips?

109 Danny April 24, 2012 at 3:45 pm

I did two things that completely got rid of pit stain problems and nasty armpits, both of which are mentioned above, so this is just to confirm:
1) Trim underarm hair regularly. Once a month, that’s all.
2) Get rid of aluminum-based antipersperant. I use Tom’s, unscented. The deodorant states that it fights the bacteria that causes odor – and it works great. I rarely stink, unless I sweat like crazy.

110 Dave April 24, 2012 at 6:27 pm

In the military we sometimes scotch guard the insides of some uniform shirts. This, with an undershit, saves our underarm areas from sweat buildup.

111 Dave April 24, 2012 at 6:28 pm

sorry- UNDERSHIRTS…

112 Mat April 30, 2012 at 10:00 pm

@ Jason, makes sense, I’ve heard that mixing Hydrogen Peroxide + Dishsoap was another effective way or removing pit stains.

113 Dana May 1, 2012 at 10:12 am

Guys, this is very simple to resolve. Forget the powdered OxiClean. Buy the liquid instead and simply spray the armpits and/or collar of your shirt before washing. I suggest letting the Oxi sit for 20 min before running the washer. So just prep the load of laundry and let it sit for a bit before washing.

You can buy large refill bottles of OxiClean for $5 at Walmart. I believe the dollar store versions are also effective.

114 Billyo May 1, 2012 at 12:48 pm

I have tried it all and it does not work with my super yellow.

So here my tried and tested the solution (in both senses):
Denture tablets
I gave up on my high quality white ( Abelard) shirts. Soaked them in the solution and it went away after a few hours.

115 Ashley Martinez May 1, 2012 at 6:59 pm

I read this article and went home and tried the Oxi Clean solution on my dress shirts. I simply filled the bathtub with hot water and placed my dress shirts in the tub. I rubbed approximately one tablespoon of Oxi Clean in each armpit and let the shirts soak for close to 6 hours. Then I washed with Tide laundry detergent on the cold temperature setting. This solution worked wonders for my dress shirts, even a white dress shirt that had brown colored armpit stains (I wore this shirt under a sweater). Even my wife was surprised to see the stains gone.

The next day I tried the Oxi Clean solution on my white undershirts, but did not rub the Oxi Clean into the armpits. Instead, I placed the shirts in the tub with hot water and placed two full scoops in the tub. The shirts definitely looked cleaner, but still had some light yellow stains.

Overall, rubbing the solution into my dress shirts was much more effective than only soaking the shirts. However, my undershirts were much more abused than the dress shirts.

116 angela October 13, 2012 at 12:01 am

apparently you can also use denture tabs to clean toilets and sinks with stains.

117 Brian October 25, 2012 at 1:23 am

I’ve also heard white vinegar works wonders on antiperspirant stains.

118 Jenny November 14, 2012 at 2:25 pm

For the collar stains, I use hair shampoo. Soap up your collar with shampoo and then rinse and launder as usual.

119 Rachel November 16, 2012 at 5:12 pm

I’d definitely skip the aluminum deodorant as aluminum has been linked to liver and kidney problems, as well as Alzheimer’s. You’re basically putting poison on some of your thinnest skin which puts the toxin right into your blood stream.

White vinegar + a sprinkle of Gold Bond and you’re golden.

This won’t bleach your colored shirts, won’t yellow your white shirts and won’t kill you compared to your aluminum deodorants.

120 Trina November 18, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Was thinking of purchasing Raise and then stumbled on this. Since I already have the oxi-clean in the house so going to give this a try! Will let you know how it works.

121 Archie November 27, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Scrap all deodorants and antiperspiratns. Use simple home brew stuff: equal amounts of cornstarch and baking soda – the cornstarch for the moisture absorption and baking soda for the odor. I typically add a some scented baby talc – and that’s it. Cheap. Easy and most importantly – works. Powders better than sprays and roll ons or sticks. And as a preventive each night spray some apple cider vinegar in your arm pits. Will kill the bacteria. You will never worry about yellow stains again. And for the big time dripper – gotta wear the undershirt.
cheers

122 Carl December 11, 2012 at 11:17 pm

I use an automotive cleaner called Fast Orange to get bike grease stains out of clothes and I’ve found that it works for collar/pit stains as well. Pretty cheap at your local pep boys.

123 marie December 13, 2012 at 6:06 pm

The best thing for collar rings is to be proactive. Once you see any hint of yellowing, soak, then hand-scrub the collar with lye soap (not usually commercially available, I get it from Amish folks in my community). Sometimes using a stuff-bristle brush to lift the stain will help also and save your knuckles from all the hand-scrubbing. If you can’t find lye soap, my mom always used to use Ivory snow, which is just Ivory bar soap flakes, so if you use bar Ivory soap, that’s also fine. Good luck!

124 Trina January 13, 2013 at 6:49 pm

I tried the Oxy-Clean (using the paste and soaking for 3 hours before laundering as normal) and all I can say is FANTASTIC!!!! The shirts look new and hubby is happy because he really liked them and didn’t want them thrown out.

125 CDville January 14, 2013 at 6:48 pm

“Oops! The page you were looking for doesn’t exist.” Time to link to a more permanent James Bond photo.

126 R J Vincent January 17, 2013 at 2:45 pm

I tried the Oxiclean and it worked perfectly. I also made the paste and spread it on the shirt. It had been hanging in the closet for years and I’ve finally lost enough weight that I can wear it. I followed the directions on the Oxiclean container and went heavy, since the stains were really old and nasty. Laundered it as usual after rinsing and the shirt looks brand new. Now to take care of the stains on a few t-shirts and a couple of other dress shirts. Great tip, Brett.

127 Bjarki January 20, 2013 at 11:17 am

I’m a bit surprised that you didn’t mention staying properly hydradet in the “prevent” section, drinking water will make your sweat “cleaner” so to speak, just like urine will stay clear if you are hydrated compared to yellow/brown when you don’t have enough water in your system.

Otherwise really nice article

128 Clot January 23, 2013 at 7:09 pm

everything i want to know is on this website. Thanks.

129 Ken February 9, 2013 at 2:38 pm

So with the water shortages, you could use denture tabs; on your dentures, your yellow pit stains, and your toilet, all at he same time? J/K angela, I couldn’t resist. :)

130 Jami February 12, 2013 at 12:54 pm

I wish I had seen this before throwing out a nice white shirt a few days ago. Oh well. Next time.

131 Mardi February 20, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Wow! A lot to digest… and try! Thank you everyone! As I women, I can’t believe how much I sweat — therefore I am one of those Alzheimer’s patients in waiting… I know (?)… but the “infamous” aluminium deoderants seem to be the only solution for a “sweater” like me…(funny, yet I’m ALWAYS cold!!!??) It’s not excessive but still wet so you don’t want to raise an arm like the commercials. With deoderant I still get wet but with no scent. It really, really bothers me as it truly doesn’t feel very lady like to be all dressed up and sweating quicker and more than your boyfriend. REally don’t understand it?! I really appreciate the homemade powder and GoldBond solutions and will try the along with the washing instructions, but do any women have any solutions for summer tops? It’s a pretty bleak alternative either way? Having a bunch of damp white powder caked to your pits in isn’t exactly a classy option either? : – ( …as a smile for you all, and since you don’t know me, I can tell you I’ve been so very frustrated with this issue to the point where, if I NEED to know I won’t wreck a partiular dress or shirt, I have taken women’s lightday feminine mini-pads (I think they are called) and actually pulled off the paper and stuck them to the armpits of my top!!!!! (And just pray I don’t get in an accident and land up in the hospital… lol)

132 Heather February 26, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Hello All,
One thing that no one mentioned was old fashioned sun-shine. During the summer and on sunny days in the winters (I live in michigan) I will hang my clothes out to “line dry.” I don’t have an acutal clothes line I just use a drying rack from Ikea. The sun shine “bleaches” out stains. This works good for biological stains like pit stains, blood, and “mysterious” underwear stains (I have a small child, don’t ask) Any how, the most imporant thing is to turn them inside out about half way through this will allow the “stain” to be broken down from both sides of the fabric. Works great for light and white colored clothes. Don’t leave your dark color clothes out to long or they will fade.

133 Ernesto February 27, 2013 at 10:14 pm

One trick I read about some time ago that has worked great for me, is to spray the shirts in the armpits with white vinegar 30min before putting them in the washer. Since vinegar is acid, it “breaks” the alkaline substances in deodorant residues and the stains never get the chance to settle in the fabric. This is ideal for residues of aluminum-based deodorants.

Other option is to use these “clinical” deodorants that you can apply at night before going to sleep and then wash it off in the morning during the shower. You’ll be protected during the day with no stains, since most of the aluminum was washed away in the shower.

Those two tricks have worked fine for me. Hopefully they’ll help someone else :)

134 Lydia March 17, 2013 at 8:58 pm

My mother said she’d give me fifty dollars if I could find a way to get out my step-dad’s yellow pit stains from his dress shirts. She said she’d used OxiClean, but now that I’ve told her to rub in the paste, I may be about to make fifty bucks…

135 Oliver March 21, 2013 at 11:05 am

I tried using Toms of Maine and it didn’t work for me but I’ve started using For Pits Sake natural deodorant and LOVE it!

136 Rob March 24, 2013 at 10:14 am

>sweat a liter per night
Eurgh…

137 Ron March 30, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Hey, I was just wondering if any one has tried to spray their clothes with rain guard in the areas that are heavily stained. Spray it on and let dry that is after you iron of coarse.

I think this would work and not even be noticed by any one. A bottle of Scotch Guard will only set you back about $7-8 dollars.

Give it a go OK I am going to try it. It should work as it is used on sofas to stop the absorption of stains. You can wipe up the spilled wine and no colour penetrates. But on fabric you can wash it away.

138 Ron March 30, 2013 at 11:27 pm

One thing I forgot to mention. Make sure when you spray the rain / scotch guard on that it is on your new shirts not the old ones. I think this will really work. Just a suggestion though that no one has even thought of.

139 Rami March 31, 2013 at 9:34 am

Useful article to get rid of the yellow stains, but totally wrong with the reason behind them. I am not a scientist, but I am pretty sure as well that it is not aluminum that causes yellow stains. I have stopped using chemical deodorants long time ago, and all what I use is “Baking Soda” as a perfectly healthy deodorant + antiperspirants replacement. Just search the net how can it be used: very easy and you don’t expose yourself to all the dangerous chemicals in the commercial deodorants. I was expecting for the yellow stains to disappear when I switched to baking soda, but uh oh…no! Clearly, It is sweat + whatever oils the body produces are the reasons behind yellow stains.

140 Esther April 12, 2013 at 9:53 am

I will try this. Unfortunately I am a girl and my white shirts ALSO get what I call ring around the armpit. I don’t buy or wear many white shirts as a result.

141 Diego April 12, 2013 at 3:33 pm

I has the yellow stains problem for years (it pretty much stopped me from using white shirts) and I tried using arm and hammer’s deodorant. It has sodium bicarbonate thar deodorizes your pits while keeps them dry.

142 LESLIE April 15, 2013 at 3:33 pm

thanks i hope this works for females as well…

143 Lynn April 17, 2013 at 9:01 pm

OK…this is PERFECT! I use OxiClean in the laundry machine before, but never in a concentrated solution prior to washing. Thanks for the tips!

144 Matt April 23, 2013 at 4:31 pm

A great way to prevent excessive wetness and the stains that follow are Maxi-pads. Yes, your wife’s stockpile under the sink can be used to absorb all the moisture.
Just stick them to the inside of your shirt before you don it. Thin and unscented are your best choice if you decide this works best for you, although be careful about using them when you have a white shirt on as sometimes they do have some printing/outlining from the outside.

145 Hazel Morrero May 3, 2013 at 12:47 am

mythelated spirits or mineral turpentine will do the trick. its removes yellow stains off the shirt. its works well. keep rubbing till its gone.

146 Kins May 8, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Rami, thanks for your comments. I almost gave up looking for a solution because all the websites say it’s because of deodorant. But no!!!! I get the yellow nasty stains on the lower part of my bras. I don’t use deodorant there! I’m going to try the OxiClean and hope that it will work on yellow stains not caused by aluminum.

147 Dan June 3, 2013 at 7:18 pm

I agree with the people who have noticed that even with non-aluminum containing anti-perspirants and deodorants yellow stains occur. I’ve seen the same types of patterns (pardon the pun) and I’ve been using non-aluminum deodoarnt powders for a couple years. I did more recently make an observation that might suggest a connection between diet and the yellow stains.

I have Crohn’s disease, and one of the new ideas in ‘natural cures’ is that turmeric aids in the anti-inflamatory processes. I take it in capsule form, as the powderized, spice form was making my mouth all yellow. But regardless of how I take it, I’ve started noticing (in retrospect mostly) that the yellow stains that I’d thought were a thing of the past for me (when I used to get them periodically while using aluminum-containing products) have resurfaced (again, pardon the pun – or don’t). If I had to take a guess, it’s an effect than can probably be attributed to varying factors, including, it seems, aluminum, as well as dietary intakes.

Regardless, I am going to get some OxiClean tomorrow. I’m intrigued by the Simple Green comment as wel.

Thanks all for lots of ideas.

Dan

148 Tom June 4, 2013 at 4:15 pm

I found an effective and ridiculously easy method of getting these stains out. I use something called “Spot Shot” which is a spray-on carpet cleaner I usually get from Sam’s Club. All I do is spray the affected pits with Spot Shot, let the shirts sit for about 15 minutes, then wash in a warm water load with a scoop of Oxy Clean.

No scrubbing or rubbing has been required on any of my shirts thus far, but admittedly I don’t have any with really old stains.

This method doesn’t seem to be as effective on the “oily” looking stains caused by gel deordorants, though it does diminish them dramatically. I guess if I weren’t so lazy I could treat these kinds of stains twice for better effect.

BTW, while Spot Shot is made for cleaning carpets I’ve never had it fade, discolor, or damage any kind of shirt. I’ve used it on everything from $35 dress shirts to $4 t-shirts in colors ranging from white to deep red and never had a problem.

149 Nicole June 7, 2013 at 6:22 pm

I just got out yellow stains that were over a year old by using a paste made of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. I did this with 3 different shirts & a lightweight sweater of different fabrics. I wet the fabric, applied the paste, scrubbed it in with a mini scrub brush, let it sit for 5 minutes or so, rinsed & repeated until I didn’t see the stain anymore. 3 repeats for the worst stain.

As someone else said OxiClean is just soap & peroxide, so that’s probably why both of these solutions are effective.

For shirts that aren’t white, or that have more fragile fabrics (e.g., silk, light blue shirts, etc.) a remedy I’ve found effective is pouring vinegar over the stain while holding over a bowl & then microwaving. Rinse. Repeat if needed. Launder as usual.

Re: collar stains. I get those out with ammonia. Ammonia cuts grease (which is why I also use a diluted solution of straight ammonia to clean in the kitchen) — and since collar stains are from human oils, they are usually broken down by ammonia treatments.

I wish there were reasonable preventions. My and my family’s skin is too sensitive for harsh soaps, etc.

150 Marie June 12, 2013 at 11:47 pm

I am constantly buying my husband new undershirts! the other thing i’ve noticed is that even when i wash and dry his undershirts, the armpits come out sort of hard and crunchy. like the deoderant got into the fabric and made it stiff. i have oxyclean so will try scrubbing/soaking that in. be careful soaking clothes that have zippers, though! one time i soaked a pair of dark olive green bermuda shorts in a bucket with oxyclean and the zipper bleached the shorts where they were laying on the fabric! there is literally a bleached zipper pattern on the shorts now! they were brand new and never wore them again. : (

151 victor mejia June 15, 2013 at 8:42 am

Definitley gonna try it ,,, oxi clean ? would´ve never imagined but that other product mentioned ,,, will try to get it

152 Paul June 28, 2013 at 9:37 am

If you wear darker colored workshirts, like Dickies, you end up with white pit stains ( I assume this is also from the antiperspirant). I buy hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle and put a squirt or two on the pits of my shirts to soak as a pre-treatment. Its more or less the same as soaking in a sink of OxyClean, but you can get the spray bottle that lasts me about a year for only $1 or $2 at most pharmacys like CVS or RiteAid. Very economical option.

153 andrea July 1, 2013 at 12:09 pm

@Paul
hydrogen peroxide and some washing soda (sal soda-water softener) and you basically have Oxyclean

154 Peter July 1, 2013 at 6:58 pm

The armpit stains I have on my shirts go beyond the typical stain- along with the yellow / brownish stain, it causes the affected area to harden.

So I tried the above (many times) and hardly was able to get far… until!

Magic Erasers!!

Who would have thought that a simple cleaning pad could literally STRIP away the dirt, grease and grime from my shirt? One good brush (inside and out) and the shirt (a blue cotton knit polo) was looking
as if it were brand new. I did the left side to see the difference… perhaps the next time I wash it I’ll try the right side with the magic eraser + oxiclean and throw it in the wash!

155 Lethe July 9, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Interesting website! I’m a girl, I peeked. But sorry, I have to disagree with the statement that the yellowing has nothing to do with the chemical composition of your sweat. I’m a fan of white linen shirts for summer, and I do get those yellow perspiration stains in areas other than under the arms – in the collar area and even down the center of the back where sweat tends to soak in when you sit and rest your back against a chair back in hot humid weather. And hah, I’ve tried most if not all of these solutions (mineral turpentine? yikes!). I remain convinced that there IS a secret out there (mineral turpentine? hmmmm…) that those in the know are keeping to themselves, because I see people with snowy white t-shirts all the time around here. I’m just about to start having a word with them, even if some of them look like serious gang-bangers. Meanwhile, I’ve learned from other sources that those with very acetic perspiration tend to stain clothing this way. These are the same people that will turn unsealed copper jewelry green/blue when they wear it against their skin. (Yep, that’s me). Not sure what to DO about it, but there it is.

156 Amanda July 16, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Use a natural salt stone crystal deodorant. It may not prevent perspiration but it does prevent odor and will not leave yellow stains on your clothes.

157 Kevin M. August 4, 2013 at 1:54 am

I have to admit, I was hoping for a “home remedy” of sorts, since I can’t get Oxi Clean in Denmark where I live. Alas, I must continue on my search for the “magic fix”. Either way, thanks for putting the time into making this for us!

158 Josh F. August 4, 2013 at 8:28 pm

This was the first result in Google after I threw my arms up (after checking to make sure no one was looking!) to figure out how to get rid of the yellow pit stains that ruin all my white shirts. Will pick up Oxiclean and look for better deodorant alternatives, thanks for a great post!

159 John D August 15, 2013 at 10:47 am

When I get white pit stains on dark shirts I use 99% Isopropanol(alcohol) in a little spray bottle and spray them liberally then wash immediately before it dries. You may want to let it air for 10 minutes before throwing in the washer. I don’t trust all those fumes and electricity.

160 Karen August 17, 2013 at 9:10 am

For collar stains I use Dawn with bleach alternative (clear kind – not blue). I rub this in colors of white dress shirts before every wash and it keeps the prettly clean. (does not work on underarm stains though so I will give oxyclean a shot)

161 Karen August 18, 2013 at 8:39 pm

I put a paste of oxyclean on the yellowed armpits of my sons undershirts and kept it damp in the tub overnight and washed the next day. Amazing difference. You could tell the difference even before washing. They look nearly brand new. Next I am going to try it on the stiff white caked on deodorant stains on my husbands colored shirts.

162 Jeff August 19, 2013 at 2:35 pm

I read somewhere or, heard somewhere (?) After washing a new shirt but prior to ironing same, put some baby powder on the inside of the shirt under the armpits. After application of baby powder go ahead and iron the shirt and do this after every wash. I do not remember anything about whether to dry iron the shirt or use steam but I cannot imagine steam being a good idea (?) However, to be perfectly clear, I have not tried this yet because I need to purchased a cheap shirt to practice on.

163 Joe August 31, 2013 at 2:01 am

Try making your OxiClean paste with hydrogen peroxide instead of water. I get both the peroxide and the OxiClean at the dollar store, so $2 cleans about three quarters of a 5 gallon bucket of stained clothes. One time, I cleaned a friend’s grass stained white skirt, 3-4 of her son’s pit-stained white shirts and a grease stained pale shirt of mine for $2, and she now keeps both ingredients around all the time.
What I did was make a paste, rub it into the stains, then drop everything in the bucket, shake the rest of the tub of powder on top and pour on the rest of the peroxide. Next morning, I dumped the whole bucket in the washer and ran it. Everything came out looking good as new.

164 Shanna September 5, 2013 at 1:48 pm

As far as PREVENTION goes, I wash all my husband’s undershirts on hot and do an extra long setting. This has prevented the build up. You can also add a little extra soap and some oxy clean in the wash. Throw in some white socks or something else you want extra clean to make a full load.Don’t have the yellowing problem anymore!

165 TC September 10, 2013 at 3:36 pm

For the Record, I was extremely excited when Mennen came out with the deodorant that supposedly fights armpit stains. Unfortunately, my pit stains have actually become worse since I switched from regular mennan powder sticks to the stain fighting version. No lie. I’m shocked and disapponted.

166 Robert September 26, 2013 at 11:15 pm

The white colored solid stick or semi-solid deodorant/antiperspirant products seem to be the biggest culprits for leaving aluminum based armpit stains. I switched to the clear gel type..Right Guard, Gillette, Arm & Hammer, etc., That seems to have done the trick in terms of preventing the stains. I also use a homemade replacement for Shout and the other laundry stain removal sprays which is cheaper and quite effective. It’s 1 part Dawn liquid dish detergent and 2 parts hydrogen peroxide (less than $.90 per quart at Walmart or Target). i have not tested it on the crusty armpit stains, so don’t know if it would be as effective as the OxyClean paste, but the way it works is similar to the way OxyClean does. I’ve found it useful on many other stains.

167 Charles Andrews October 13, 2013 at 1:12 pm

I had high hopes for the aforementioned Speed Stick that purports to prevent sweat stains…it doesn’t. I bought some brand new t-shirts, and never used anything but that product. Shirts got stained just like before.

168 KATHERINE November 16, 2013 at 11:09 pm

I love all of the solutions offered for cleaning pit stains. I know this solution that helps prevent stains may be frowned upon by some, but there is a prescription medicine called Drysol that can be used to help people who sweat profusely. Please research it before you ask your doctor for it. It is mildly painful, but I only use it once every couple of months to control my excessive sweating. It really works for me.

169 Gary2227 December 22, 2013 at 1:13 am

I used drain opener liquid (seriously) on a white T-shirt with some very thick yellow antiperspirant stains. I was wearing thick yellow rubber gloves and protective glasses. Worked in a sink. First full strength on the stains, rubbed for a minute. Then added a little bit of water and washed the entire T-shirt in it. Then rinsed. Guess no need for laundering at that point :) It worked awesome, no stains whatsoever (no T-shirt either…). Just kidding, T-shirt was still there, and it looked like new.

170 david January 4, 2014 at 12:00 pm

I just wanted to add that i havent used aluminum based deoderants for sometime and use only natural ones. Does that mean anything?

171 Bryce January 17, 2014 at 10:05 pm

To prevent the pit stains on t-shirts upon removing the shirt I spray each pit lightly with Shout laundry stain remover. Let it dry on and sit for days comes out of the laundry no stains. Same treatment for ring around the collar stains.
Going to get some liquid OxiClean to see how it works pre-treating days before laundering. I prefer treating spots when the shirt is removed than trying to catch them just before washing.
Great post and thanks to everyone for insightful comments.

172 sophiya January 31, 2014 at 2:13 am

For the Record, I was extremely excited when Mennen came out with the deodorant that supposedly fights armpit stains. Unfortunately, my pit stains have actually become worse since I switched from regular mennan powder sticks to the stain fighting version. No lie. I’m shocked and disapponted.

173 Keith February 23, 2014 at 7:37 pm

I’ve battled yellow pit stains for years. It’s frustrating and expensive to continually blow through undershirts, dress shirts and even tee shirts far faster than you’d think is necessary. Here’s the best solution to this affliction I’ve found and it works 100% of the time.

Now, it’s going to be very important to do this in a well ventilated or very big room as you’re dealing with some rather noxious chemicals.

Ingredients:
*Ammonia
*Color-safe powdered bleach

Instructions:
1. Mix the 2 in a bowl until you’re able to get a thick paste and add ammonia as necessary to keep the mixture somewhat liquid.
2. Spread the paste on the INSIDE of the stained area of shirt
3. Allow to air dry (I always put the shirts outside on a drying rack in the sun – no clue if this affected the whitening results but the stains always came out)
4. Throw the shirts in the wash
5. Be excited that you’ve reclaimed shirts thought to be no longer wearable.

Good luck

174 jad_68 March 24, 2014 at 11:37 am

I honestly don’t understand the advice against using bleach. The few times that I have noticed yellow stains in my undershirts armpits, bleach has gotten rid of it without issue.

175 David April 3, 2014 at 11:18 am

I just wanted to give props for being manly enough to write that shaving your pits isn’t just a feminine thing. Knock that stuff down to 1/4 inch with some trimmers and watch how much less deodorant you need, how much less you stink, and apparently, you will also have fewer pit stains!

176 Dave April 13, 2014 at 5:22 pm

According to this article, chlorine bleach would just produce more yellow stains. That’s true IF you just pour it full-strength on white clothes, which even the Clorox label strongly advises against. However, if the label directions were followed and the shirt was left to soak in a solution of water and bleach (where the latter is obviously diluted) or washed in a load where bleach was added (with the bleach having been diluted first), then surely you wouldn’t have to worry about new yellow stains cropping up . . . would you?

177 Dan From Houston April 16, 2014 at 9:23 am

Dude thank you so much!!! I have fought this battle for YEARS!!!

I went and bought Oxyclean and I made a huge batch of like 25 shirts, some custom tailored that I hadn’t worn in like 3 years because it was just gross. I soaked them in oxyclean, and another batch of colored t-shirts that I haven’t worn, as well as white undershirts that were just sooo nasty to look at. DUDE they were all looking almost brand new after this…

What I did:

1. I did a pre-soak with Dawn dish soap for night with the ones that had caked on deodorant- that kinda broke up some of it.

2. I soaked them in Oxyclean for 24 hours, not the 8 recommended on the box.

3. I put additional Oxyclean with regular laundry detergent in the washer after the 24 hour soak.

4.Obvious, but keep your colored t-shirts away from your button down work shirts (I missed a pink t-shirt that got on a work shirt. But I kept it in the oxyclean and it removed itself.

I can wear alllll my shirts.

178 Jamaica April 17, 2014 at 2:24 pm

It may sound a lil weird but I used fantastik scrubbing bubbles bleach 5 in 1 all purpose cleaner I sprayed it directly to the yellow stain,soap, n a lil bleach with hot water n it came out (for whites) but test a small area before doing a larger area. on colors same thing but don’t use bleach itself. it worked

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