How to Clean Armpit Stains on Clothing

Don't let armpit stains ruin your favorite clothes.
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By itself, sweat doesn't have a bad smell. Combine sweat with the bacteria on your underarms, though, and you have a perfect storm of stink just waiting to happen. Worse yet, dried sweat often yellows on fabric, leaving behind a nasty stain that won't go away with normal washing. Your sweat-stained garments aren't a lost cause, though. Ammonia, peroxide and enzyme detergent break down stubborn stains so your clothes look and smell like new.

Lay the garment flat on a towel. Slide a washcloth or small hand towel underneath the stained area.

Dampen a cloth with very cold water, then blot the stain for 15 seconds. As you blot, you might see some of the stain coming off on the cloth. Do not use hot water for this; it may make the stain permanent.

Rub a dollop of enzyme-containing liquid laundry detergent into the stain. Allow it to soak in for 15 minutes.

Combine four parts water, one part hydrogen peroxide, one part ammonia and one part liquid detergent in a bowl.

Dip a clean cloth in the solution, then tap the stain with it. As you tap, the stain will weaken and transfer to the towel you placed below it. Continue doing this until no more of the stain comes out.

Launder the item as usual. Add 1 cup of baking soda to the wash along with your usual detergent. If any discoloration remains, also add a capful of fabric-safe bleach. Do not put the garment in the dryer unless the discoloration has faded completely.

  • If perspiration odor doesn't go away after washing the garment, soak it in a solution of 1 quart water and 3 tablespoons of table salt for at least an hour. Wash as usual.
  • To avoid staining clothes, allow your antiperspirant to dry before dressing. You can also apply your antiperspirant at night before bed so it has time to soak into your skin.

Melissa King began writing in 2001. She spent three years writing for her local newspaper, "The Colt," writing editorials, news stories, product reviews and entertainment pieces. She is also the owner and operator of Howbert Freelance Writing. King holds an Associate of Arts in communications from Tarrant County College.