How to Remove Armpit Stains

It seems to be a common problem for both men and women: armpit stains in shirts.  How do you get rid of them?  And the even better question:  How do you prevent them?

Just for the record, I detest the word ‘armpit.’

First, let’s tackle how to get rid of the stains.

How to Remove Underarm Stains

How to Remove Armpit Stains

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If stains are rather mild – just slight discoloration of the fabric – undiluted white vinegar will probably solve the problem.

Turn the shirt inside out and douse the underarm area with full-strength white vinegar.  Completely soak the area and let it set for a few minutes up to an hour.

Using an old toothbrush, slightly brush the area and gently rub the vinegar into the stain.

Launder in the washer on a ‘normal’ cycle using warm water, not the delicate cycle if the fabric can tolerate the agitation.  The garment needs the extra agitation to help get rid of the stain and the deodorant build-up.

Before placing the shirt in the dryer, ensure that the stain is removed to your satisfaction.  Once it is dried, it is practically impossible to remove a stain like this.


If the garment is white, you can drench the area with white vinegar, scrub lightly with a toothbrush and then let it dry in the sun.

The sun’s bleaching properties are enhanced by the vinegar.


Now if the shirt is stained and also has that crunchy type of appearance to it, you’ll probably need to use full-strength laundry detergent.

Original Liquid Tide and Original Liquid Wisk are very effective using this method.  The process is the same as the above with the white vinegar.

Simply douse the armpit area in  detergent and let it soak in a few minutes.  Then gently scrub it in with a toothbrush.  Let it sit on the shirt for an hour or so to help break down the deodorant build-up.

And then launder on the normal cycle using warm-hot water if the garment can tolerate it.  Again, make sure the stain is removed to your satisfaction before placing the garment in the dryer.


Use blue Dawn Dish Soap or Cascade Dishwasher Detergent to remove underarm stains.

Saturate the area in the same method as you would the vinegar or full-strength laundry detergent.  The Dawn typically does not cause discoloring, but the Cascade certainly can and will.  I would only try using the Cascade on a stark white fabric, as it could bleach the color.

As with any laundry fix, you’ll want to test for color-fastness before trying any of these methods on your clothes.


A Few Notes for Armpit Stain Removal

Use these few notes as a guide when trying to rid your shirts of armpit stains:

★ The more agitation the garment can tolerate in the washing machine, the better the chance of stain removal.  The shirt needs the soap/washing property of the vinegar or detergent and the agitation of the machine to completely remove the stain.

For more informationLaundry Basics: How to Choose the Wash Cycle

★ Use the hottest water temperature that the garment can tolerate.  Obviously you wouldn’t wash a silk blouse on hot to remove the deodorant stains, but a cotton shirt could tolerate it.   The warm or hot water truly helps get rid of the stain in conjunction with the detergent and agitation.

For more informationLaundry Basics: How to Choose Water Temperature

★ When scrubbing the shirt with a toothbrush, be very gentle.  Sometimes the direct agitation can cause discoloration in the shirt.

★ When dousing the area with vinegar or detergent, apply it on the inside of the shirt first.  You want to get rid of the stain on the portion of the shirt that sits next to the skin.

After you adequately saturate the inside of the shirt, move on to the outside.



How to Prevent Armpit Stains in Shirts

In my opinion, the best way to not deal with armpit stains is to prevent them in the first place.  Here are a few suggestions:

Always wear an undergarment under your shirts.

Men can wear a white t-shirt under every outer shirt.  White t-shirts are much easier to clean (can be washed on hot and on a ‘normal’ cycle) and then the stains are on the white t-shirt, not the outer shirt.  It is much more economical to replace white t-shirts more often than ‘nicer’ outer shirts.

Women can wear either a t-shirt or a camisole.  While a camisole doesn’t provide quite as much protection as a t-shirt, it still does provide a thin layer between the skin and the outer shirt.

Switch from a roll-on or spray method of deodorant.

Because a roll-on or spray deodorant are more ‘watery’ types of deodorants, they become more liquified when combined with sweat.  And this causes them to be harder to remove from clothes.

Using a solid stick deodorant might help, as it becomes more ’clumpy’ when it mixes with sweat, therefore making it easier to remove.


What do you do to prevent underarm stains?


  1. I’ve tried using Dawn dish soap and it actually works very well. I like Tide equally well. I’ve never had much luck with the vinegar but then again I’m washing tons of laundry for sweaty boys so I need the heavy duty artillary!
    .-= [email protected]´s last blog ..The Power Wheels Harley Davidson Rocks! =-.

    • mamalaundry says:

      Dawn Dish Soap is good for lots of laundry ailments, isn’t it? And it’s cheap! Gotta love that!

      I agree – heavily-sweated-on-boy-laundry needs the big guns!

      Thanks for commenting 🙂


      • Brandon says:

        Just a reply on dawn it’s great to remove blood but also another tip get a bar of ivory soap wet the corner of it and use the corner to scrub the stains and also works great on blood removal as well do this before you throw the article of clothing in the hamper it will come out when you decide to wash it also re wet the ivory soap as often as needed to help spread it as you scrub with it doesn’t need to be scrubbed too hard just need to adequately cover the stain!!!

  2. Great tips that I am going to try!

  3. What a brilliant idea for a blog! I’m switching to coconut-and-baking-soda deodorant, and I’m hoping that doesn’t stain as badly as my old stuff. I’ve had quite a few shirts ruined by deodorant stains, even though I almost always wear a camisole, too.

    • mamalaundry says:

      Oh thanks! Who knew there was so much to say about laundry! Haha….

      You’re braver than me! I tried to switch to a more natural deodorant a few weeks ago and it just didn’t work for me. Hopefully you’ll have better results! I’d be interested to know if it helps with your clothes – let us know after a few weeks!

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂


  4. There is now a product available that will eliminate all underarm stains in clothing!!! PitStop underarm stain remover does what all detergents and stain removers claim to but can’t deliver. All you have to do is pre-treat the stain and let PitStop do the rest. You can buy it online at

  5. Tammy Berry says:

    I have hyper-hydrosis, so when I wear (one of two specific) white cotton shirts, they automatically have stains on them (just those two; go figure). They generally get thrown in with my husband’s white underwear and athletic socks and bleach, baby, bleach 🙂 This weekend I omitted the bleach since my last load had been done with vinegar and the stains were still in the fabric. One of the shirts is a nice IZOD polo, so I may try the vinegar on that one — it works wonders on my towels and sheets in place of fabric softener, so I’ll give it a try for stain removal! 😀 One question; the vinegar bottle labelled “cleaning only vinegar” I saw at the store stated “not to be mixed with bleach as it will create a toxic gas” the way bleach does with ammonia. ( There were no labels on the food grade “5% acidity” bottle contraindicating any interactions. Does that mean I don’t have to worry about food grade vinegar coming into contact with my bleach?

    • mamalaundry says:

      Tammy, I haven’t seen ‘Vinegar for cleaning’ advertised. Interesting! Honestly I wouldn’t mix bleach and vinegar at all due to fumes, chemical reaction, etc.

      Better safe than sorry. 😉

  6. Would white vinegar work on the purple under arm stains caused by detergent?


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