How to Clean Pit Stains and Breathe New Life Into Your Favorite Shirts

It’s a problem many people encounter, but few talk about it — yucky yellow sweat stains.

They appear out of nowhere, even if you’ve only worn your shirt a few times. They’re annoying, embarrassing and ruin your favorite shirts. And, if you've ever tried to remove pit stains from clothing, you know that it's no easy feat. 

Luckily, we’ve got you covered. We share the best ways to remove sweat stains and save your shirts. 

What Causes Yellow Pit Stains?

Why do you get yellow stains? Surprisingly, your sweat isn’t the only culprit.

Sweat is odorless and colorless. Yellow pit stains form when aluminum (commonly found in antiperspirants) reacts with proteins in your sweat. It’s why you see yellow stains appear on your white shirts after only a few good sweats.

While most deodorants don’t contain aluminum, heavily applying deodorant can also cause pit stains.

Learn more about the science behind pit stains.

Unlike sweat marks — wet rings that crop up at the first sign of stress — yellow pit stains take time to form, making them a formidable force in the laundry game.

What Gets Rid of Armpit Stains?

Is there an easy way to remove sweat stains? Getting rid of armpit stains is tough, but it’s not impossible.

There are a variety of techniques and ingredients to remove armpit stains. Like managing your sweat, there’s no magic solution that works for everyone. It depends on the fabric, how much you sweat and how long the stain has been there.

We scoured the web, our archives and personal experience to find the most effective ways to remove sweat stains. The best part? You most likely already have a lot of these supplies in your kitchen and medicine cabinets.

How to Remove Pit Stains

When it comes to getting rid of yellow sweat stains, the process matters as much as the ingredients. Because they’ve had time to set, removing sweat stains requires extra elbow grease. 

Best Ingredients to Remove Pit Stains

Here’s a list of ingredients you can use to remove pit stains.

To remove mild sweat stains:

  • Crushed aspirin: Aspirin contains salicylic acid. Similar to the acetic acid found in vinegar, aspirin can be used to remove stains.
  • Dish soap: Mix one part dish soap and one-part hydrogen peroxide.
  • Salt: Dissolve four tablespoons into one liter of hot water.
  • Lemons: Mix with equal parts lemon juice and water.

To remove heavier sweat stains:

  • Vinegar and baking soda: These two work well together. Mix one cup vinegar with ½ cup baking soda, one tablespoon salt and one tablespoon hydrogen peroxide into a paste.
  • OxiClean: Follow instructions and mix with water.
  • Raise: Try this stain remover specifically designed for removing pit stains.

Do not use:

  • Bleach: It doesn’t remove stains and can damage colored or dark shirts.
  • Club soda: While club soda is a powerhouse stain remover, it’s only effective when applied before stains have time to set. By the time yellow stains have formed, they’ve too tough of a match for club soda.

Instructions to Remove Pit Stains

Follow these instructions to clean pit stains from your favorite shirts.

  1. Pick your ingredients. Select your ingredients from the list above. (For really tough pit stains, our favorite is the vinegar and baking soda combination.) For black or colored shirts, you don’t want to risk ruining it by using hydrogen peroxide. Try something gentler like baking soda.
  2. Scrub the stain. It’s not enough to wash it, especially if it’s an old shirt — it needs a deep clean. Use a toothbrush or laundry brush to scrub the solution into the armpit area.
  3. Let it soak. After scouring the stain, let it soak. If it’s a newer stain, a ten or fifteen-minute soak should do the trick. If it’s an older shirt, leave it overnight.
  4. Wash your shirt. After letting the shirt sit, throw it in the washer.
  5. Repeat if necessary. The stains may not come out the first time. If those yellow pit stains have been there for a while, it may require more than one wash. Try a second time if the first doesn’t do the trick.

How to Prevent Pit Stains

The process of removing yellow pit stains is sweat-inducing itself. Save yourself the extra laundry work and stop yellow pit stains in their tracks. Here are a few ways to prevent yellow armpit stains from ruining your favorite shirts:

  • Wear an undershirt. An undershirt stops sweat from seeping through your undershirt, saving your shirts. A standard undershirt may meet your needs, but consider wearing a  sweat proof undershirt for better protection. 
  • Trim your armpit hair. Keeping your armpits trimmed can help reduce sweating and prevent yellow sweat stains.
  • Wash shirts immediately after wearing them. Yellow stains get baked into shirts over time — it’s one of the reasons they’re so difficult to remove. After wearing your shirt, don’t just throw it into the hamper and let it sit for a week. Washing it immediately prevents pit stains from setting, helping your shirts to last longer.

Try the Thompson Tee Sweat Proof Undershirt

The best way to remove pit stains is by preventing them in the first place. The  Thompson Tee sweat proof undershirt blocks underarm perspiration and odor. The lightweight layering system traps heat and moisture and allows it to evaporate instead of seeping through to your outer layer. The result? No more sweat marks or yellow pit stains.

Save your favorite shirts with Thompson Tee’s sweat proof undershirt. Try one risk-free today.

Lawrence Hunt

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