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How to Get Rid of Sweat Stains

Sometimes your hard work (or previous day’s makeup) shows up on your shirt. To keep sweat stains from ruining your clothes, simply prepare a soaking solution and stain removal paste, then use a toothbrush to scrub the stain and machine wash. Act as soon as you notice sweat stains building up so they don’t spread or set in further, and always check your clothing’s care label for any specific requirements like dry cleaning before treating. See the five steps below to learn how to remove old sweat stains.

Person putting blue piece of clothing in the washer Person putting blue piece of clothing in the washer

What Causes Sweat Stains?

The combination of water, fats, proteins and salt in your sweat—as well as the deodorant additives like aluminum and zirconium, and body oils—all contribute to sweat stains. These molecules build up over time to ultimately embed into the fabric of clothing fibers, and may even bind to the fabric and cause the yellow discoloration often found on sweat-stained clothing. 

Does Sweat Stain Clothes Permanently?

Sweat stains don't have to be permanent, but they can become more difficult to remove if you don’t treat them quickly or follow the right process. Stains that go unnoticed or untreated can set in further with a typical heated dry cycle, so it’s best to opt for air drying as you work on removing sweat stains from clothing. If your first attempt at removing stains isn’t effective, repeat the stain removal process until you’re satisfied before you return your garment to a heated dry cycle.

Water pouring into washer full of clothes Water pouring into washer full of clothes

How to Remove Armpit Sweat Stains

Finally rid your shirts of sweat stains with the simple, five-step process below. Gather the supplies you’ll need to create a soaking solution and stain removal paste, then soak your shirt, wring out the solution, apply the paste and machine wash. Read on to learn more about each step of the process. 

Supplies

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup of white vinegar

  • ½ cup of baking soda

  • 1 tablespoon of salt

  • 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide

  • Toothbrush or spoon 

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Step 1: Prepare a Soaking Solution

First, prepare a mixture of 2 cups of water and 1 cup of white vinegar. Soak your sweat-stained shirt in this mixture for 30 minutes.

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Step 2: Wring Out Excess Water

After 30 minutes of soaking, wring out your shirt to remove excess water and lay your shirt out on a flat surface.

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Step 3: Create a Stain Removal Paste

Here is the secret formula that will help you remove sweat stains. In a bowl, prepare a paste using ½ cup of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide and stir well. 

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Just Say No to Chlorine Bleach

You may be tempted to bleach out sweat stains, but chlorine bleach can actually make sweat stains worse by making them appear darker. If you really want to use bleach, reach for oxygenated bleach instead, which has a different chemical structure that removes protein stains easily.

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Step 4: Use a Toothbrush to Scrub the Stain

Apply the paste to your sweat stains and let the mixture soak in for 20 minutes. You can apply the paste using an old toothbrush or scoop the mixture with a spoon and rub it into the stain using your fingers.

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Step 5: Machine Wash with Hot Water

After 20 minutes, it’s time to wash your shirt in your washing machine on the hottest water setting recommended on the care tag. Line dry the item: heat from a dryer will set any stain left behind that you can't see while the fabric is wet. If the stain remains after it dries, repeat the steps as many times as necessary.

 

And that’s it! You just saved your shirt in 5 easy steps. No sweat.

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Consider Switching to Aluminum-Free Deodorant

Those unsightly sweat stains that discolor your shirts aren’t caused by sweat alone. When you sweat, the triple threat of aluminum in your antiperspirant mixed with the sweat and proteins on your skin causes the stain. You may want to switch to an aluminum-free antiperspirant or deodorant instead. The easiest way to remove sweat stains is to prevent them from happening. Read more about how to remove deodorant stains from your shirts.

Clothing agitating inside of the washer with water Clothing agitating inside of the washer with water

Sweat Stain Removal Tips & FAQs

How Do You Remove Dried Sweat Stains?

Sweat stains don’t need to be fresh in order to successfully treat them, but it’s best to tackle stains as soon as you notice they’ve set in to prevent molecules from embedding further into the fabric. Remove dried sweat stains by soaking clothing in a solution of white vinegar and water, then applying a stain removal paste of baking soda, salt and hydrogen peroxide to the affected area. Allow the mixture to rest, scrub the stain with an old toothbrush and machine wash in hot water. 

How Do You Remove Dried Sweat Stains Naturally?

Chances are that you already own several natural stain removers in the form of everyday household items. Both baking soda and vinegar are gentle, inexpensive natural stain removers that trap or dissolve the yellow pigment and odors caused by perspiration. Lemon juice can be helpful in removing stains on white clothes, but may fade colored clothes. You can also try sprinkling meat tenderizer on stains, as sweat stains are partly made up of the body’s proteins and this kitchen ingredient is designed to break down and soften proteins in meats. Learn more about how to remove stains from white clothes.

Can You Use Vinegar to Remove Sweat Stains?

The acidity of vinegar makes it an ideal stain removing agent. Though sweat stains are naturally acidic, the acid in vinegar is stronger and can work to break up and dissolve stubborn sweat stains. Distilled white vinegar is inexpensive and doesn’t contain any coloring agents, so it’s best to opt for this type of vinegar when removing sweat stains.

Can You Use Baking Soda to Remove Sweat Stains?

Baking soda is an effective and gentle stain remover for everything from the armpits and collars of shirts to hats, sheets and bedding. This non-toxic cleaning agent can be mixed with water to form a paste ideal for coating sweat stains. Once applied, a baking soda paste can help draw sweat stains out of clothing fibers as it dries, locking both the pigment and odor of the stain into the baking soda mixture.

Shop Maytag® Washers

Maytag® washers deliver the performance and durability you need to tackle tough stains. Take advantage of the Extra Power button on select Maytag® washers to boost stain fighting performance, and choose from select top load and front load models with the 16- or 24-Hr Fresh Hold® option that keeps clothes smelling fresh in the washer.

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