How to Remove Deodorant Stains and Underarm Body Odors From Dress Shirts

White cotton undershirts help protect your shirt from deodorant stains.
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Ugly yellow deodorant stains are the pits. Although stains and body odor are bad anytime, they are a huge problem when they happen to dress shirts, which should be clean and fresh. Don't invest money in a new dress shirt yet; you may be able to remove the stain with some know how and a little elbow grease.

Rub liquid dish detergent, heavy-duty liquid detergent or prewash stain remover into the stain, on the inside of the fabric. Allow the detergent to work for five to ten minutes.

Read the garment care tag to be sure the shirt can safely be washed with hot water, then fill the washing machine with the hottest water appropriate for the fabric. Add 1 to 2 cups of vinegar to neutralize odors.

Launder the shirt, then check the underarm area carefully. If the deodorant stains are gone, it's safe to dry the shirt as usual.

If the stains remain, soak the shirt in warm water and an enzymatic detergent for 30 minutes. Launder in hot water again.

Once the stain is gone, dry the shirt as usual.

  • Stains often occur when chemicals used in antiperspirants mix with sweat. To avoid unsightly arm pit stains, opt for a deodorant that does not contain aluminum.
  • If your shirt is white, chlorine bleach added to hot water in the washing machine may remove the deodorant stain. However, use bleach only according to directions on the label.

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.