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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Yellow Armpit Stains

By Dr. Laundry July 13, 2011

Q: How can I get yellow armpit stains out? I’ve tried everything, even using bleach pens! Any help would be greatly appreciated!

A:  Arm pit stains can be quite variable.  If your shirts have stain build-up that some people say feels almost “crunchy” you can try this method:

1. Working into a dishpan, pour boiling water slowly through each armpit stain.  This is to “melt” the build-up, which is a combination of deodorant, sweat, body soil, bacteria, etc.  It will help if you position the shirt in the dishpan before you start so that you can get to each stain without touching the shirt once you begin since it will be boiling hot!

2. Don’t rinse the shirt—just pour off as much of the hot water as you can.  This keeps the build-up in a more “melted” state.  If you do need to handle the shirt, either wear gloves or use kitchen tongs.

3. Apply a mixture of 1:1:1 parts baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and water directly to the stain.  Sometimes you may see this referred to as a paste, but it is actually quite watery, so be sure to mix up enough so you can saturate the stains.

4. Rinse the shirt, and then follow up with a hot water wash with a good enzyme-containing detergent.  (For white t-shirts, be sure to add ¾ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach!)

You may just have yellow staining, and in that case you could go straight to step 3, above.  You may also consider changing brands of deodorant to one that doesn’t contain any aluminum since that can contribute to the staining.  Good luck!

Is anyone else plagued by armpit stains?