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:


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.


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 }

1 jwsummitt April 3, 2012 at 5:33 pm

You can also drop an Aspirin in the washer with them. It’s weird, but it works…a cheap fix.

2 Aaron April 3, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Good timing! You just saved a couple of my shirts from the trash.

3 Graham April 3, 2012 at 5:59 pm

I recently switched to the right guard stain fighting variety for this very reason.

I can confirm that it works fairly well at preventing stains based on the appearance of new undershirts I bought around the same time.

It does not do a great job as an antiperspirant; I’ll have to try the Gold Bond trick.

4 Travis April 3, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Wow. Yes! I have a shirt that’s in desperate need of this treatment. Never really thought of experimenting with different ways of getting the stains out – just sort of gave up. I can’t wait to go try this now!

5 Michael April 3, 2012 at 6:12 pm

I switched to Arid XX (or ExtraExtra, can’t remember offhand) Dry deodorant and it solved my problem. No moisture OR stains for me.

6 Tony April 3, 2012 at 6:53 pm

“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.”

I’m sorry, but… you wear the same shirts for SIX years???

7 Sean April 3, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Great article, and (especially) timely with spring/summer coming!

(Just FYI: I think you mean DEFCON 1, ‘Cocked Pistol’ which is code for War Imminent – Maximum Readiness.)

8 John April 3, 2012 at 6:57 pm

So, how do you remove skidmarks?

9 Matthew April 3, 2012 at 7:02 pm

I’ve found that prevention is definitely the best way of going about armpit stains. I’ve worn undershirts for several years now, and never had any problems. It’s great to know how to fix it though, should I ever need to tell someone!

10 Brendan April 3, 2012 at 7:11 pm

I have found that not using an antiperspirant with aluminum in it also works. Aluminum is not good for your body let alone your shirts.

11 Michael Tasker April 3, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Hi all,

I don’t suppose anyone knows anything about preventing sweat/deoderant from bleaching the armpits of darker shirts?

I have some darker shirts that, after wearing on a few hot days (washing after each use), developed white-ish stains in the armspits. I can’t figure out how to get rid of the stains (without getting rid of the shirts!)

To Brett and family, great post, great site. Thank you for all of it.


12 Anna April 3, 2012 at 8:22 pm

I have a tip for you: women’s antipersperant. There ARE a few brands that have aluminium in them, but (as suggested above), more of them seem to lack said ingredient than men’s. My husband uses the same brand that I do, only unscented. Works perfectly well.

13 RainyDayNinja April 3, 2012 at 8:23 pm

I find it’s easier to just avoid exerting myself of going outside when it’s above 70 degrees.

14 Gmattic April 3, 2012 at 8:42 pm

wow just awesome been looking forward to this manly issue finally being solved, thanks, you have saved 5 white tees for the garbage

15 Alex April 3, 2012 at 8:45 pm

baking soda brothers. the best anti-deodorant ever (not) invented. no smell, no stains, no cheap ass fragrance to clash with my cologne.

16 Alex April 3, 2012 at 8:45 pm

heheh, no anti, just deodorant.

17 Mike April 3, 2012 at 8:58 pm

@ John, just trash them and wipe better next time, with baby wipes if need be haha.

18 sam i am April 3, 2012 at 9:30 pm

dont use antiperspirant first off. second. wool undershirts handle moisture much better and have amazing anti-stink properties. ie: I use same undershirt all week without problems.

i know wool is much more expensive. but being able to use 1 shirt vs 5-20+ saves soooo much on laundery. seriously, 2 undershirts last me a month before i “decide” to wash them.

19 Brandon April 3, 2012 at 9:47 pm

My wife used oxiclean on our twin’s clothes when they were babies. That stuff is amazing, but 1) it actually ate holes through some of the clothes and 2) some of the stains oddly came back after being stored for several months. Still its amazing and worth every penny.

20 Buzz April 3, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Use a pre-wash treatment, like Spray and Wash, sprayed on the underarm area of the shirt before you wash it. Do this EVERY time you launder the shirt. You can also pour liquid laundry detergent directly on the shirt like you would with any other stain. This works with colored shirts as well.

21 Mary April 3, 2012 at 10:14 pm

Ahem, this is not just a man’s problem. I can’t tell you how many shirts I’ve had to toss because they got crusty yellow stains in the pits. Luckily women’s clothing is generally cheaper than men’s.

Anna, I don’t know what state you live in, but I’m moving there, because every women’s antiperspirant out there I’ve found has aluminum in it. They all make me sweat more and get crusty pits. Degree makes ONE women’s deodorant without antiperspirant , and I can only find it at Walmart.

Certain-Dri works AWESOME for keeping you dry — if it doesn’t irritate your skin. I always ended up with lame acne on my arms every time I used it :(.

I might be trying this little gold bond trick (baby powder?) to keep the moisture to a minimum. OR I might try Lady Speed Stick stain guard that I’ve discovered from reading this excellent blog!

22 BenC April 3, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Here is a trick that works for me: Apply deodorant right before going to bed. I shower in the morning (including scrubbing my pits) and I stay dry all day better than I did when I was applying my deodorant in the morning. Apparently, it works because the aluminum salts have time to work into your pores before you start sweating. As an added bonus, that means no aluminum on your skin to turn your shirts yellow.

23 graeme April 3, 2012 at 10:29 pm

how did john get skidmarks on his shirt?

24 Ryan Dunphy April 3, 2012 at 10:34 pm

I have used, with great success, hydrogen peroxide. At the dollar store I get 2 bottles for $1. I use luke warm water, and one bottle to fill bathroom sink 3/4 full. Place entire shirt in sink, soak for 2 minutes. Squeeze out water and place in washer. I can also do more than one shirt at a time. I usually do 2 at a time. Has never failed me yet. The other good trick, wear a v-neck t-shirt under your dress shirts. They soak up most of the sweat and less staining on dress shirt. Also you can soak about 5 t-shirts in the same time you can 2.

25 Greg K. April 3, 2012 at 11:20 pm

Excellent stuff. I stopped using antiperspirant in high school when I found out that that was causing the problem and I haven’t looked back. Though it is sometimes hard to find a deodorant without antiperspirant in it in the brand/scent I like.

I’d also be really interested in seeing an article on eliminating ring around the collar/cuff. I’ve tried a few methods (spray-n-wash, Dawn dish soap, Oxyclean pretreatment, scrubbing my neck raw, etc.) and haven’t had much luck. I’ve read about some methods that I haven’t tried yet, including some product mentioned in GQ a while back that claims it can take rings out that have been there for years.

26 Nicky April 3, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Start eating more raw plant foods in your diet and cut out processed foods. This has done wonders for my husband and me, and lots of other people. This cuts back on body odor drastically. I just use a little unrefined coconut oil now instead of deodorant and no one knows the difference.

27 Anastasia April 4, 2012 at 2:17 am

Hello there!
Speaking about colorful clothes, you can’t apply some stuff without spoiling it. I really was surprised to find out that dish washing liquid didn’t work, because i use one for my problem. Something like Fairy. Just pour generously on the stained area and around for several minutes and then start to wash in cold water. Be careful to put only that very foamy spot under steam as it can spread over clean parts of shirt. Then wash it as faster, thoroughly and carefully as you can. Let your shirt dry hanging freely and make sure it worked. Actually, then you should put it in laundry too to wash it as the simple clothes.
this method is successful with black, colorful as the trouble usually occurs with this kind.

28 Rainer April 4, 2012 at 3:03 am

That’s interesting. I’m from Europe, and I never even heard of those stains, let alone had them myself. And we do use antitranspirants here too ;)

So I wonder: do we have different antitranspirants here? Different shirts? Different detergents? Different Armpits? :))

29 John F. April 4, 2012 at 5:28 am

I came within seconds of the bleach solution, and then decided to look it up online first.

Glad I did, as it sounds like a disaster. So in a pinch, I tried something else recommended… actually, a lot of things.

First, I mixed white vinegar and baking soda and brushed that on. Frankly, that might have done it. But to be extra sure, I sprinkled on lemon juice and salt and rubbed.

In the end, what did it? I don’t know. But somewhere in there, I got the shirt completely clean. Not a trace of stain.

30 marília April 4, 2012 at 5:57 am

Baking soda works wonders for all sorts of stains. The procedure is the same as described for Oxyclean, but it’s cheaper and less aggressive.

31 Nick April 4, 2012 at 6:27 am

Avon deodorants seem to be a lot gentler on my clothing. I’m not getting the yellowing I used to get. For 99 cents, it’s a good alternative.

32 Nick t April 4, 2012 at 6:37 am

I live in Singapore. It’s practically the law that you wear deodorant, anti perspirant and in a country where you can be fined for failing to flush the toilet, who knows?

It’s 90 plus degrees year round 100 pct humidity, you sweat. I wear undershirts. Cotton works well, knitted silk even better and like wool, anti odor, but feels much cooler than wool or even cotton.

33 Buffet April 4, 2012 at 6:56 am

Trimmed??? You don’t shave your armpits? I’m guessing you’re either VERY young or very OLD?

34 Marcel April 4, 2012 at 7:28 am

You can remove the yellow stains easily by soaking your shirts in a warm water + citric acid mixture.
12g citric acid for every liter water, let the shirts soak for a few hours and wash afterwards. Cost = almost nothing :P

35 don Roberto April 4, 2012 at 8:03 am

@ Tony

Why are you surprised that someone might keep a shirt for six years? If it’s a fairly basic businesslike shirt it’s not going to go out of style, so if you treat it well there’s no reason not to keep it for longer than that.

Thrift is a manly virtue. As we New Englanders are won’t to say, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without.”

Just out of curiosity, what keeps you from wearing a shirt for that long?

36 don Roberto April 4, 2012 at 8:22 am

And that’s “w o n t” in the field above, not “won’t.” Stupid autocorrect.

37 Alex Devlin April 4, 2012 at 8:25 am

If you choose to not use an antiperspirant or deodorant and are worried about a smell building up during the day, here’s a tip to keep yourself fresh. Use either hand sanitizer gel or alcohol wipes. The alcohol in the sanitizer kills any bacteria immediately. Plus it’s designed to evaporate quickly so you don’t have much to clean up after, just wipe in and you’re good to go. The alcohol wipes are just as good and are easier to carry in your wallet. Plus it’s an even quicker way to freshen up as you just wipe and you’re done. No messy gel and you can do it in the time it takes for the elevator to take you a few floors. An undershirt will hold the sweat away from your shirt and the alcohol will keep the bacteria at bay. Yet another reason why alcohol is our friend. :-)

38 Aaron B April 4, 2012 at 8:40 am

The active ingredient in Oxyclean is Sodium Percarbonate. You should be able to this is bulk at your local home brewing store. It may be called OxyPer. Use about 1/3 for same results. It is biodegradable & works great.

39 Aaron B April 4, 2012 at 8:40 am

The active ingredient in Oxyclean is Sodium Percarbonate. You should be able to buy this is bulk at your local home brewing store. It may be called OxyPer. Use about 1/3 for same results. It is biodegradable & works great.

40 Aaron B April 4, 2012 at 8:41 am

The active ingredient in Oxyclean is Sodium Percarbonate. You should be able to buy this is bulk at your local home brewing store. It may be called OxyPer. Use about 1/3 as much.

41 Aaron B April 4, 2012 at 8:41 am

The active ingredient in Oxyclean is Sodium Percarbonate. You should be able to buy this in bulk at your local home brewing store. It may be called OxyPer.

42 Almond Butterscotch April 4, 2012 at 9:02 am

You probably meant DEFCON 1 (White) which means that a nuclear war is imminent.

DEFCON 5 (Blue) is normal. As far as I know, DEFCON 1 has never actually been confirmed to have been used. I think DEFCON 2 was used partially during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

43 Kevin April 4, 2012 at 9:04 am

Spray vinegar onto the armpit region of the shirt after wearing before laundering. Works pretty well to prevent stains in the first place.

44 Troy April 4, 2012 at 9:06 am

I’ve been happily promoting my own use of hippy natural salts for almost a decade.

Being the sweaty man I am, I was sick of those stains ruining my favorite college T’s. I was also not a fan of the uncomfortable, sticky mess deodorant was leaving in my armpits. I decided to try the alternative – what appeared to be a mini salt lick in a bag that I spotted at a local co-op – and have been a convert ever since.

Granted that my pits don’t smell Old Spice musky, in fact, they usually don’t smell like anything at all… but I prefer to apply the salt a few times a day (especially after a shower and/or before bed.) It feels pretty good (like nothing), smells pretty good (like nothing), and does not leave anything on my clothes.

For a few bucks, I recommend a trial period. Try the solids, not the roll-on salty-water products that are also available.

45 Gregory April 4, 2012 at 9:25 am

“But it’s somewhat of a Faustian choice between swamp pits or yellow stains.”
Not really – you can get DO without aluminum (heavy metals are really bad for you anyway – that yellow stuff – it’s seeping into your pores when you sweat, too) – they use other things like Tea Tree oil – its been working for me – but also – some stains are also caused by oils on the skin and not necessary aluminum – depending on how oily one might be.

46 Bevan April 4, 2012 at 10:04 am

I have been using Oxyclean for a long time for stains. In the Judo circuit I used to compete in, its recommended for blood stains in your Gi. The only problem is repeated Oxyclean treatments will degrade your cotton fibers a little. That is why some guys don’t treat their double weave jackets with the stuff but stick to the soft pants for treatment for blood. I have used Shout Gel as a decent second choice for stains.

47 drew April 4, 2012 at 10:04 am

I have used Oxiclean and it absolutely did not work on my pit stains. I did hear that RAISE works and am going to try this next.

48 Doug April 4, 2012 at 10:54 am

Now I know why I never get this stain.. Aluminum in any form does not belong in or on the body.. I learned this at an early age from my biology teacher and have never had BO or sweat problems because I didn’t use an antiperspirant.. The body is supposed to sweat folks. It’s like controlling bad breath by stopping your breathing.

49 Rachel April 4, 2012 at 11:33 am

Great article! I am a woman who also likes to wear a crisp white shirt and hate when yellow stains ruin a shirt (for the record I do shave my armpits). I have found that the better quality of cotton is less likely to stain. A cheap white cotton shirt that I bought because it has nice French cuffs only lasted about a year before the yellow stains crept it. I’ll try some of the products recommended. However, a more expensive Banana Republic white cotton shirt made of high-quality Indian cotton has not become stained, although I have sweated in it (it gets very hot in a NYC subway station!). I am sure the quality of the cotton has something to do with it. Also, I think dry cleaning tends to “set” the yellow stains and then they never come out so I would stick with hand-washing if your shirts are too delicate to be put in the washing machine.
Vintage dresses from the 18th century through the 1950s came with “dress shields” – little underarm protector pads that could easily be replaced when worn. I wonder why this very good idea was abandoned? Particularly for a crisp white summer garden party dress – a little pad of chamois or soft felt could go a long way towards protecting against the dreaded yellow stain.

While we’re on the topic of stains, I’ve tried every kind of gel and stick and pen that’s out there and I found that none of the worked. One day I saw a television commercial for Dawn dishwashing liquid and how environmentalists found that it’s the only substance that can remove oil slicks from ducks and other wildlife affected by oil spills. The image of a sparkling clean duck swimming away happily stuck in my mind. I though, if it can remove black petroleum, surely it will work on my ball point pen stain? And it did! I have yet to find a stain that cannot be removed by saturating the area with Dawn, allowing it to sit, then washing by hand or in the machine. It removes blood, chocolate, ink, and it might very well work on yellow stains. I’ll have to give it a try. (I suggest only using the original Dawn liquid, which is usually blue, and not any of the antibacterial or other exotic flavors). As a bonus, Dawn is a lot cheaper than stain removal products, and it’s dual purpose as it can be used to wash dishes as well. In fact I used to use it to shampoo horses, when I worked in a stable, because it was mild and non-irritating (I do suggest using proper horse shampoo if possible, or check with your vet first).

50 Josh April 4, 2012 at 11:38 am

“I’m sorry, but… you wear the same shirts for SIX years???”

I’m sorry, but… you buy clothing that goes out of fashion within less than SIX years???

Buying a top-of-the-line, perfectly-fitting white dress shirt that lasts a decade is more of a bargain than a cheapo white dress shirt that falls apart after a year or 2. Plus, it looks darn good on. It makes more sense to buy clothing you still plan on wearing a decade from now, otherwise you’re just wasting money and probably are following fashion instead of style.

51 Kris April 4, 2012 at 11:43 am

Great Post. I have thrown a lot of T-Shirts out over the years because I wasn’t able to find a way to get the yellow stains out. A couple of years ago I decided to stop using antiperspirant and switched to Deodorant. I was convinced that this wouldn’t last long because I used to sweat an awful lot even using antiperspirant but for some reason the sweating went away completely. I have been using deodorant only now for about 2 years and no longer have yelow stained shirts and I never have wet spots from sweating. I read somewhere that the aluminum can create an allergic reaction and actually cause a person to sweat more. I guess this was the case with me. If you sweat a lot and use antiperspirant you may want to swich to deodorant.

52 archer April 4, 2012 at 12:27 pm

aluminum may be one cause, but it isn’t the only one. i never use antiperspirant (see this comment: )
and i still get yellow staining sometimes and i have no idea why. so, as there are different causes, i’m guessing that is why there are testimonies here of both success and fail using the same techniques.

i’ve tried several here without success. haven’t tried a few, including oxi and raise.

53 Buddy April 4, 2012 at 1:08 pm

I’ve had mixed results with OxyClean and yellow pit stains. I have definitely ruined some rather expensive Polo shirts using OxyClean soaks. My ultimate personal remedy for this has been undershirts. They’re cheap enough to be disposable, plus they add a comfortable, cooling layer in the oppressive Houston summers. I tried the yellow-stain fighting Speed Stick antiperspirant and it is less than useless. I now use Dove MenCare antiperspirant as it seems to greatly minimize the amount of staining. Using Dove MenCare, I usually get 9 months wear from my undershirt before they’re too yucky and disgusting.

54 Chase Christy April 4, 2012 at 1:15 pm

How about making sure you are keeping at a comfortable temperature. Don’t wear really heavy-weight clothes in the summer. If you have a jacket on, be aware if you’re getting too warm and remove before the sweat really starts.

55 Oscar Ortiz April 4, 2012 at 1:38 pm

I haven’t used deodorants for the past two years or so. For some inexplicable reason I started suffering from rashes if I used any kind of commercial deodorants. What works for me? Tea Tree Oil. It smells strong when first applied but then the smell wears off. I personally like the actual smell of the oil. Since it is an antiseptic it kills the bacteria that reside on the surface of the skin and if you sweat it doesn’t stink or create those yellow stains. Give it a try.

56 Jim April 4, 2012 at 1:49 pm

As someone with hyper-hydrosis, I was long dealing with the trouble of yellow pit stains. I found that a simple scrub with an Oxyclean paste, sit for an hour or so, then typical wash load kept up with it well. It works nicely around the collar, too.

I’ve now been using Certian-Dri antiperspirant for a few weeks and it’s made an amazing difference. Where I used to sweat even at room temperature, now I can be wearing a suit on a hot day and my pits don’t even get moist. Your particular body chemistry may yield different results, but for me, this stuff is a wonder of science.

57 Andre April 4, 2012 at 2:06 pm
58 Tate April 4, 2012 at 2:30 pm

I think that Brett skipped an important point when he mentioned that the aluminum in deodorants causes the yellow stains and asked if one has to choose between being sweaty or having stains. This is a false dichotomy. There are many options for deodorants that don’t include aluminum. Aluminum is a toxic metal and I would strongly advise putting it on your skin.

59 SystemicChaos April 4, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Vitamin K

Too much Vitamin K as found in some vegetables like asparagus can influence the stains as well. We grow it in the garden and the wife loves it, but the stains are unsightly. Asparagus has some other unintended side effects as well. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Everything in moderation.”

60 Miguel April 4, 2012 at 3:31 pm

use Biz, Im not sure if they offer it in stores outside of the midwest but it works wonders.

61 Jordan April 4, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Good article. I’ve had problems with yellow stains for years. My best results have been washing with a Dial Gold bar, using Mitchum Gel and wearing undershirts when I can get away with it.

62 Paul April 4, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Here’s the answer —>

Don’t let it happen in the first place. Use an underarm antiperspirant to prevent the stains and if they still occur, throw the shirt out and buy a new one(s). There’s no excuse for this in today’s society.

63 don Roberto April 4, 2012 at 7:55 pm


Sorry, Paul, but throwing out a shirt because it has stains that can be removed is unconscionable in today’s society. That kind of wasteful approach is something we need to get away from, not embrace.

64 Lucas April 4, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Another good way to get rid of stains like these, is to soak the shirts in hot water and scrub the stains with hydrogen peroxide and baking soda and a drop od laundry detergent. then just trhow in the wash with the rest of the whites- no bleach

65 RiesAdam April 4, 2012 at 11:26 pm

Fels-Naptha soap. It also works wonders on yellow stains left on your collar for those of us with oily skin. This old fashioned soap is sometimes hard to find, so pick up a few bars when you find it as you will start using it on all types of stains.

66 Jen April 5, 2012 at 12:31 am

Soaking just the pits in 50/50 white vinegar/water solution about 20 minutes before laundering has always removed those stains for me. (I wad up the pit areas and stuff them into a glass that has the solution). And I find that yellow stains can appear even if you don’t use aluminum anti-perspirant.

67 Matt April 5, 2012 at 5:08 am

I confronted this problem a year ago, the best solution I found was to use a crystal deoderant. They last a LONG time and leave no stains.

Maybe it isn’t packaged in a manly way, but if you don’t like the pink canister I’m sure you can make your own haha

68 terrymac April 5, 2012 at 7:47 am

To fight sweat, get fit. Do a serious cardiovascular routine, get your heart rate elevated, do some running or other cardiovascular exercise. After six months or a year, you’ll find that you no longer sweat so much under ordinary conditions, and you can throw away your antiperspirants.

69 DayOwl April 5, 2012 at 8:01 am

I wear white undershirts under a white uniform shirt every day. Making my own clothes detergent helped immensely. I use Fell’s Naptha soap, washing soda, borax, and Trisodium phosphate. Sweat stains are far less noticeable now.

70 Ward Deaton April 5, 2012 at 9:50 am

The absolute best product on the market for the prevention of underarm odor and never leaves any kind of stain is the Thai Stone. I have used it for 30 years with complete success.

71 Chris April 5, 2012 at 10:12 am

I used to sweat sitting in an air conditioned room and my shirts were atrocious before I switched to Certain-Dri as my antiperspirant. Combine that with trimmed armpit hair and I haven’t even had to use deodorant in years.

72 skip April 5, 2012 at 11:01 am

There is a store in Green Bay, WI next to the Hutson center called the “Soap Store”. My wife bought the “L&L Enzymes” from them as a pre-soak for football stains (blood, dirt, grass, others…). Absolutely the BEST at getting any stains out of fabric. It is so good that we moved a good 9 hour drive away and anytime one of the boys or us go back to visit we buy 2-3 20 lbs. bags of the stuff.

73 skip April 5, 2012 at 11:04 am

I’m sorry, I’ve been corrected on my previous post, the store in Green Bay is called “Soap Products Company”

74 Jonathan April 5, 2012 at 11:20 am

I agree that the cause of yellow stains is deodorant. I used to get these stains until I switched to Old Spice: Swagger, and now I don’t get them any more. I live in Texas, the home state of sweat…

75 Thorfinnss April 5, 2012 at 11:33 am

Aluminum based antiperspirant = Alzheimer’s eventually. I’ve used Tom’s Chamomile Deodorant for 20 years. That and no processed foods means healthy pits and natural man smell. Or you could work up a batch of Oxyclean mixed with baking soda and just apply that directly. No need to even wash the old stained shirts!

76 Brian April 5, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Stopped using deoderant a couple of years ago. Made my own using coconut oil, cornstarch and baking soda. It was effective but it was kind of messy. I have used the Thai Stone for about 6 months and it works (plus it’s cheap and lasts forever). It isn’t fragrant, you just don’t stink. I throw on a couple of drops of peppermint oil on there and I’m fresh like a daisy. A very manly daisy.

77 Bridget April 5, 2012 at 1:27 pm

White vinegar in the washing machine should help with the ‘built-in’ odor that usually accompanies the yellow stains…

78 Jim Collins April 5, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Esteemed Readers,

I’m a biologist, biochemist, and ecologist, so you can either do your own research, or trust me.

Deodorant causes B.O. It goes like this: there are supposed to be many different organisms living on and in you in a balanced ecology. As a matter of fact, you carry around more cells that are not Homo sapiens cells than cells that are; and that’s a good thing. They help you digest your food and create the balanced ecology on your skin that prevents colonization by worse things. It’s unbelievably complicated. Theirs a nematode (worm) that inhabits your eye-lash follicles, and it belongs there. When you use a deodorant, you kill all your friends in your arm pits (thousands of species). If you spray a broad spectrum herbicide in your yard, paraquat, for instance, the next thing that happens is that one kind of weed will recolonize first, then die off, then another kind of weed, and so on until an equilibrium is reached with many kinds of weeds and then the place you sprayed is on its way to being an equilibrium environment. The same thing happens on your skin, with rapid colonization and die off and all those dying critters stink.

So now you’re addicted to deodorant and when you don’t use it, you stink. It’s like other addictions – painful to leave behind; but worth it. Choose a camping trip or some similar time to reestablish your personal ecology, be clean, shower regularly with a non-deodorant soap, and enjoy your new found freedom. This is not something that people selling deodorant want you to know.

Another possibility if you smell bad, is that your diet needs repair: too much alcohol, meat, and junk food affects the way you smell.

Jim Collins

79 Jim Collins April 5, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Excuse me folks — “there’s” not “theirs.”

80 Adam April 5, 2012 at 1:42 pm

You can make your own deodorant for next to nothing. It’s got no aluminum, and has the added benefit that you can make it smell like whatever you want, and not just whichever of the limited choices on the shelf seems least noxious. I’ve been doing it for several years, with no complaints. Instructions:

81 TJ April 5, 2012 at 1:45 pm

A crystal deodorant stick (all natural) works the best.

No yellow stains, no odor and no aluminum.

One stick costs about $8.00 from a Health Food store and lasts about a year.

82 CM April 5, 2012 at 3:03 pm

It’s not the antiperspirant or deodorant that causes the problem. I get the same yellow ring around the neck, too. It’s the oil that your body produces. if you read the same book over and over again, the pages will turn yellow, too. The oil from your fingers does it.

83 Bill Jones April 5, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Of course, real men buy fifty pound bags of sodium percarbonate- one of the active ingredients in color safe bleach and use a couple of spoons full of that. Mine cost a little over $100 three years ago and is about half full now. Keep it dry.

84 Steve April 5, 2012 at 5:22 pm

There is a trick to using the Gold-Bond both on the underarm and crotch so you reduce the powdery mess: Dump some into an old tube sock and tie up the open end. Simply use it like a pitcher’s resin bag and dust yourself.

85 Keri April 5, 2012 at 6:13 pm

This is not just a problem for men. I don’t get yellow stains on my winter clothes, but I do on my summer clothes (I live in Tennessee, so it’s pretty damn hot and humid). I wear cotton and linen almost exclusively, and they both stain. I’m going to try OyxClean just on the sleeves of my dresses (using it regularly in the entire wash seemed to give me and my husband rashes on our hands and feet).

For the gentleman who said he sometimes gets blood on his gi, pour hydrogen peroxide on the stain. It breaks up the proteins in the blood, allowing it to wash out. I usually dash a stain four or five times, giving it a minute to bubble in between dashes. When the stain is more yellow than red, you can toss it into the wash and the rest of it will wash out. Even old blood stains can be lightened considerably (but if you want them out completely, do it while it’s still fresh).

86 Warren April 5, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Oxyclean is the best! I severed an artery in one of my fingers last year, and bled heavily on my shirt and pants. Soaking overnight in Oxyclean removed all the blood stains I also accidentally left a white dress shirt in Oxyclean for three days and every stain and discoloration was gone! That shirt had never been so white!

What I do is fill up the washing machine with cold water to the lowest water level (small load.) While the machine is filling, I place three big scoops of Oxyclean in there while the water is running. Next, I add the clothes. I let the machine agitate for a couple of minutes to throughly mix up the Oxyclean and penetrate the clothes. Then, I turn off the machine and will usually let the clothes soak for a day or two in the washing machine. There is very, very little that Oxyclean won’t take out.

87 Fino For Men April 5, 2012 at 7:24 pm

I agree with Warren, Oxyclean does work!

88 hp April 5, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Not sure about yellow stains, I use only deodorant, never antiperspirant, but I always put a good dash of TSP in my wash.

The difference is noticeable.

89 ian April 6, 2012 at 4:46 pm

aluminum is actually fairly toxic to humans, so i haven’t used anti-perspirants, ever, only deodorants. never had yellow armpit stains

90 Jack April 7, 2012 at 5:07 pm

In my experience, the whole concept that deodorant needs aluminum and parabens to be effective is dead wrong. I’ve used many “conventional” deodorants and always had one problem or another: sweating gets worse; strong odor; irritates the skin; leaves marks on shirts… I tend to think that antiperspirants may actually make sweating worse in the long run by blocking and confusing the body’s natural processes. When I switched to some of the “natural” deodorants available at Whole Foods and other such stores, those problems disappeared overnight. I’m not talking about Tom’s, that stuff is bogus. But right now, for example, I use Desert Essence Liquid Crystal with tea tree and lavender oil. The smell is mild and harmonizes with other scents, it completely neutralizes odor, and my perspiration has slowly become more and more predictable, moderate, and even sweet-smelling. So of these solutions, I would add… stop putting weird minerals and chemicals on your body, eat right, and exercise! See what that does for you. I doubt that my case is a fluke.

91 Nick April 8, 2012 at 3:37 pm

I’ve done the whole Oxyclean soaking and it didnt completely work. But, I never thought about rubbing the paste on it beforehand. I’m excited to try it out and see if it finally removes the stains. Thanks for the tips!

92 Nathan April 9, 2012 at 2:38 am

I had a few shirts that over time built up some pretty nasty stains. It’s easier to miss them on colored shirts that hide the stain until it’s much worse than it would be if it had been taken care of sooner.

Based on some web reading, we tried a dilute solution of distilled vinegar after rubbing the stain directly with large amounts of OxiClean. It removed some of it, but not enough.

A second attempt which was more successful with these heavy stains used a liberal amount of Spray n Wash stick prewash and undiluted distilled vinegar applied as many times as needed to fade the stain. Worked perfectly, the stain on one of my light blue button up shirts is completely gone and it had been there for over a year. I got a shirt back! :)

93 Don Rodolfo April 9, 2012 at 11:50 pm

As usual – a very interesting, useful article. Thank you very much!
I am slightly overwhelmed by the variety of alternative remedies offered, which I am keen to try out, because I have nearly a dozen of fairly new, good quality white (stained) business shirts in a cupboard. I just keep buying new shirts, as soon as ‘unremovable’ stains develop, yet, I can’t bring it over my heart to throw out and waste these beautiful shirts, knowing that a cure will come one day…
Anyways, I believe that a lot of people are not aware of the difference between Antiperspirant and Deodorant. It is an essential function of the human body to sweat. Antiperspirants inhibit that important function by use of chemicals and metals with which we should not be in contact with on a daily basis, i.e. aluminium etc. However, Deodorants, on the other hand, are basically just what the word says, i.e. De-Odor(ant). Just covers the smell…
PS: I totally love the alternative methods of teatreeoil…

94 Robert April 10, 2012 at 7:54 am

I recently found out about a procedure for botox injections in my armpit. It hurts like hell but really works wonders. I have thirty injections in each armpit(just under the skin, so not deep at all). Then I don’t sweat for 6 months. If you sweat a lot like I used to, this could be an option for you. I was diagnosed with hyperhydrosis. Now I have no need for an anti-perspirant therefor no pit stains. I hope this helps someone.

95 Hal April 10, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Great article and comments! I tried the OxyClean soak on several white shirts I was about to give up on and it did indeed take out most of the stain. All that is left is a slight discoloration along the seam, but I am going to try another soak along with a brush scrub with OxyClean on the stain to see if I can get that last bit out.

Also, I decided to try Certain Dri based on the comments. Great product! Previously I would completely sweat through an undershirt and have huge sweat stains on my dress shirt by lunchtime, but two days in with Certain Dri and my shirts are dry! Highly recommended!

96 Duncan April 11, 2012 at 5:41 am

Finally so proper, clear advice on removing yellow pit stains. I’ll go get that oxi-clean a.s.a.p.
One side note though. I don’t know if someone all ready commented (and I don’t really want to bitch about it) on this, but it is spelled aluminium, not aluminum. Unless official spelling has changed in the U.S.

97 Duncan April 11, 2012 at 5:46 am

Sorry for spamming. I meant to say *some proper, clear advice*

98 Don April 11, 2012 at 8:49 am

Baking soda beats all other deodorants. Mix 50/50 with cornstarch and you have yourself a winner. I stopped using sprays completely since I found this trick, no more irritation, no more silly fragrances, no more stains, and completely odor free.

99 Eli April 11, 2012 at 6:17 pm

I’m kind of skeptical about the deoderant thing, because I form collar rings just as fast as pit stains, and I’ve never applied deoderant to my neck.

100 L April 12, 2012 at 12:24 am

Certain Dri – Used to perspire extremely bad under the arms (the stuff of legend), began applying nightly before bed, easing up to every other night eventually. Hardly ever sweat under arms anymore, a great $6 solution.
Oxi Clean Gel Stick – Pre-treated dress shirts and tees before laundering, excellent stain removal (white and blue shirts)

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