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How to Remove Underarm Body Odor From Clothes

Body odor is natural but can be embarrassing. Learn how to get underarm odor out of clothes and t-shirts. Get rid of the sweat and armpit smell in your clothes.

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How can I remove underarm odor from my t-shirts?


First, consider your overall cleaning habits. Be sure you are washing in warm or hot water whenever possible, the hotter the water, the better the cleaning. Use care labels to guide you in your temperature choice. Also, be sure you are using the proper amount of detergent, underusing laundry products can also drop cleaning performance, especially for people with hard water.

Next, consider pretreating the armpit area of your tops before you wash them, even if there are no obvious stains. This will prevent stains from building up over time. Depending on the top, here are some good pretreating techniques.

  1. For white bleachable items, you can pretreat the armpit area with Clorox® Bleach Pen Gel immediately before washing. This product contains the same great sodium hypochlorite active as regular bleach, but at a lower concentration that is safe to apply directly to bleachable white fabrics. Use the soft scrubber trip to gently rub the gel into the armpit area, and then immediately wash the items using detergent and ½ cup Clorox® Regular Bleach2 for best results.
  2. For colored items or white non-bleachable items, apply a little liquid laundry detergent directly to the armpit area, rub it in, and allow it to sit for 5 minutes before starting the wash cycle. The better the detergent, the better your results will be, so check the ingredient list to be sure the detergent includes enzymes.

Since polyester is an oil-loving fiber that may be holding onto body oil in your sweat, it’s harder to remove the odor. Try directly pretreating with liquid laundry detergent, it’s a great way to strip oils from polyester. For any stained shirts with a lot of build-up that you may still have, you can try restoring them using a recommendation often provided in clothes washer user’s guides:

  1. Working in a dishpan, pour boiling water slowly through each armpit stain. This is to “melt” any build-up (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 since once you begin, 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. And if you do need to handle the shirt either use kitchen tongs or wear gloves.
  3. Apply a mixture of 1:1:1 parts baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and water directly to the stain. Sometimes this is 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 and ½ cup Clorox® Regular Bleach2 for white items, or detergent and Clorox2® Stain Remover and Color Booster for colored items.

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