How to Remove Sweat Stains on Dress Shirts

There’s nothing more dreadful than dealing with underarm stains on dress shirts. And let’s face it: asking someone how to remove sweat stains from a dress shirt isn’t an ideal topic to bring up in casual conversation.

Well, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our guide on how to get rid of sweat stains on dress shirts — and how to prevent them in the future.

How Do Sweat Stains On Dress Shirts Happen?

Sweat is odorless and colorless. So how do those pesky yellow stains keep appearing? And how do you get those yellow armpit stains out once they’re set in?

Believe it or not, the ugly yellow stains on your clothes aren’t just from sweating. Ironically, aluminum, an ingredient found in most deodorants (the very thing that’s supposed to stop you from sweating), is the culprit. When the aluminum reacts with your sweat, yellow stains eventually occur.

Read more: The Science Behind Pit Stains

Most general stain removal tips tell you to wash your garment immediately to prevent the stain from setting. But this can be difficult if you’re at work or on a date (unless your date is at a laundromat), so it’s important to know how to treat set-in stains as well.

DIY Methods To Remove Sweat Stains From Dress Shirts

Here are five ways to remove sweat stains on dress shirts with ingredients you may already have at home.

1. Detergent

Apply a mixture of one part hot water and one part detergent to the stain.

2. 4-In-1

Combine one cup white vinegar, one cup baking soda, one tablespoon salt and one tablespoon hydrogen peroxide to make a paste, then apply to the stain.

3. Lemon Juice

Mix equal parts lemon juice and warm water and apply to the stain.

4. Aspirin

Crush a few aspirins with a half-cup of warm water, stir to make a paste, and then apply to the stain.

Note: You must use aspirin for this method, not Tylenol or an NSAID like Aleve. Aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid, which is like the acetic acid found in vinegar. Non-aspirin pain relievers do not work to remove sweat stains.

5. Meat Tenderizer

Weird right? The enzymes used to break down the proteins in meat can do double duty in stain removal. Mix a small amount of tenderizer with water to form a paste, then apply to the stain.

Note: Be sure to use an unseasoned meat tenderizer to avoid adding a new stain to your shirt!

Following each cleaning method above, use an old toothbrush or laundry brush to scrub the stained area. Then soak the stain for 30 minutes before washing as usual.

Pro Tip: Did you know that baking soda and lemon juice are also natural deodorant alternatives?

Off-the-Shelf Solutions To Remove Sweat Stains From Dress Shirts

If you want to know how to remove pit stains from dress shirts with a store-bought remedy, here are a few pre-treatment solutions:

Remember to check care instructions on any garment before use.

How to Remove Sweat Stains On White Dress Shirts

Should you use bleach to remove sweat stains on white dress shirts? While bleach is a seemingly effective way to remove stains from white clothes, it can make sweat stains appear darker.

You can follow either of the methods above (DIY or off-the-shelf) for removing sweat stains from a white dress shirt. Depending on the fabric, washing in hot water is optimal for keeping white clothes their whitest.

How To Remove Armpit Stains On Colored Dress Shirts

Wearing a colored shirt is always a gamble, especially if you’re prone to spontaneous nervous sweating. Colored shirts tend to show sweat stains more than white shirts.

Do not use the DIY method above for removing sweat stains from colored shirts. Using hydrogen peroxide on a non-white shirt can cause discoloration.

Instead, soak your sweat-stained colored shirts in a cold water and white vinegar solution for 30 minutes. Rinse, then gently rub the affected area to release the stain and wash as usual.

How To Remove Sweat Stains On Silk Shirts

Treating sweat stains on silk requires special care. Most silk garments are dry clean only, and treating a sweat stain on a silk shirt or blouse is no exception.

Always check care labels and communicate with your dry cleaning professional. Point out stains on silk blouses (or other delicate fabrics like cashmere and wool) that need extra attention.

How To Remove Shirt Collar Sweat Stains

If you tend to sweat on your face or head, you might have problems removing “ring around the collar” stains. Most soiled collars are due to a combination of sweat, body oils, dead skin cells and residue from styling products.

Here are four steps to clean typical collar stains:

  1. Lay your shirt flat, collar facing up.
  2. Pour liquid laundry detergent, dish soap or a pre-treating solution directly onto the stained area and rub gently.
  3. Let it soak for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Wash and dry as usual.

If you have craniofacial hyperhidrosis and use antiperspirant to control excessive sweating on your face and head, the antiperspirant may be contributing to your collar stains. In this case, follow the directions above to remove sweat stains from respective fabrics or colors.

How To Remove Set-In Sweat Stains

Did you wait too long to treat a sweat stain? Or did you already wash and dry a sweat-stained shirt and now can't get the stain out? Removing set-in stains is more difficult, but it's doable.

Use one of the methods described above based on the type of clothing you're treating, but increase the soaking time. You may also need to use a bit more elbow grease to get the job done.

Thompson Tees Prevent Sweat Stains On Dress Shirts

The easiest way to prevent armpit stains on dress shirts is to stop them before they start. If you experience nervous sweating, know your triggers and the best ways to manage them. If you deal with axillary hyperhidrosis (excessive underarm sweating), take preventative measures to stay as dry as possible throughout the day.

Check out our exhaustive list of ways to prevent pit stains for good.

Wearing an undershirt is an excellent way to prevent sweat stains on dress shirts. Undershirts provide a protective barrier that prevents sweat from soaking through to your outer layer. However, if you have hyperhidrosis or sweat more than average, a regular undershirt might not be enough. That’s why the founders of Thompson Tee spent years developing a sweat proof undershirt that truly works.

Thompson Tees contain patented, Hydro-Shield sweat proof technology built into the armpits of every shirt. They’re guaranteed to stop 100% of sweat stains and odor from seeping through and ruining your favorite dress shirts.

Ready to win back your confidence and wear all the different dress shirts your heart desires? Try a Thompson Tee risk-free today!