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How to Remove Deodorant Buildup Stains From Shirt Armpits

Shirts dirty caused by roll- on deodorant

Underarm stains are unique to a person’s body chemistry, activity level, deodorant and wash habits. Learn how to get rid of these stains on shirts, then make some changes to prevent them.

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By Mary Gagliardi
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Underarm stains are very personal. Which deodorant you use, how much you sweat, your personal hygiene habits, and even laundry habits like the water temperature you use to wash your laundry can each have an impact on how bad these stains get.

Once the stains have built up over time, they’re very difficult to remove because the crusty combination of old deodorant that never washed out, sweat and body soil doesn’t easily dissolve in water. But when you can melt it a little, that makes it easier for a mixture of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and water to dissolve the crusty buildup.


This solution should only be used on white items.

Gather your supplies

Collect all your white shirts with underarm stains, gather the tools and supplies you’ll need, boil some water, and get started.

Steps to remove deodorant buildup

  1. 1

    Mix up the peroxide/baking soda solution

    Add ½ cup hydrogen peroxide, ½ cup baking soda, and ½ cup tap water together in a measuring cup and stir to dissolve.

    measuring cup with liquid
  2. 2

    Bring water to a boil

    Fill the tea kettle all the way — it’s normal to use a lot of water.

    tea kettle boiling on stove
  3. 3

    Place the shirt in the plastic dishpan

    Arrange the shirt with the inside of the armpits positioned on top. This way you can get to each stain without moving the shirt.

  4. 4

    Pour boiling water onto each armpit stain

    This is to “melt” any build-up. Pour the water slowly; the teakettle helps control the rate of the pour.

    Be careful when working with boiling hot water.

    puddling liquid
  5. 5

    Pour off some of the hot water

    Pour off as much of the hot water as you can without moving the shirt. Work quickly to keep the stains in a more melted state. If you do need to handle the shirt either use kitchen tongs or wear gloves.

    water pouring down drain
  6. 6

    Apply the peroxide/baking soda mixture

    Pour the mixture directly onto the stains. Let the solution stay on the stains for 5 minutes.

    puddling liquid
  7. 7

    Machine wash the shirt

    Use hot water, a good detergent and the appropriate bleach for the fiber content of the shirt:

    front load washing machine
  8. 8

    Air dry the shirt

    Really crusty stains will likely need multiple treatments to remove the buildup. Keeping the shirt out of a hot dryer will help.

    open window with curtains

Suggestions for buildup prevention

These stains don’t happen overnight; you may need to try a different brand of deodorant or antiperspirant if the problem persists. And you can often prevent crusty underarm stains by adjusting your laundry habits:

Don’t overload the washer

Clothing needs to tumble or circulate easily through the wash water for proper cleaning.

Wash using hot water

When washing white items, always select hot water and a heavy duty cycle for the best cleaning. Air dry if you’re worried about shrinkage.

Use a good detergent

Check the ingredient list for enzymes, and make sure you add the recommended amount.

Always add bleach

Use the appropriate laundry bleach along with your detergent every time you wash a load of laundry. Use Clorox® Bleach for cotton and polyester, and Clorox 2® for Colors for any white items that include a little spandex.

And If you don’t know a lot about using bleach, brush up on the basics with our How to Use Bleach in Laundry and What Is Color Safe Bleach and How To Use It articles.