Deodorant and antiperspirant are great in theory—who wouldn’t love a product that stops sweat and keeps you smelling good?—but the realities are often more complicated.
That’s right: We’re talking about pit stains. Sometimes white, but mostly yellow, the grimy underarm pools are the scourge of anyone who’s ever driven a car without air conditioning, worked up a sweat at the gym, or got caught in uncomfortable weather. (More or less: All of us.)
It’s especially problematic when summer arrives, and sweat threatens your favorite undergarments and activewear. You’ve already exhausted yourself at the gym, or you’ve gotten a bit too warm at a backyard barbecue, and you don’t need the proof to stick around after washing and drying. Moisture-wicking material may pull sweat off your skin, but pit stains remain a frustrating fact of life long afterward.
What can you do to prevent stains—and how can you clean your activewear if it becomes stained? We take a look.
Prevent Deodorant and Antiperspirant Stains
So what causes stains? Long story short: Aluminum is a common ingredient in both deodorant and antiperspirant. Over time, the aluminum interacts with sweat and leaves behind the yellow pool that sends shivers down our collective spines.
Take care, though, and you might prevent pit stains in the first place. Here’s how:
- Wear an undershirt: This might be tough at the gym, but when you’re out and about, an undershirt keeps your best garments fresh, clean, and free of stains.
- Use aluminum-free or “lite” aluminium deodorant and antiperspirant: In recent years, numerous brands have developed deodorant and antiperspirant that eschews aluminum altogether—or uses a drastically-reduced amount. This helps minimize and stop stains.
- Let it dry: If you have a few spare minutes each morning, wait for the deodorant or antiperspirant to dry before putting on your shirt.
- Air dry outside: When possible, try not to dry your shirts and undergarments; heat is a key culprit that allows stains to “set,” which makes them that much more difficult to eventually remove. (Note: Air drying in the sun will fade colored shirts in time, but it’s a perfect for white shirts.)
- Use pre-treatment: Just a few shelves down from detergent, you’ll find pre-treatment that’s designed to prevent stains from forming in the first place. Spray a little onto your clothes at the end of the day, and you’ll extend the life of your clothes—all while preventing unpleasant buildup.
- Don’t use too much deodorant or antiperspirant: It’s easy to roll on or spray a bit too much. Try using less than you think you need, and see how that feels; you can always apply more later.
Clean Deodorant and Antiperspirant Stains
Bad news: Pit stains have appeared on your favorite workout shirt.
Good news: All is not lost. Here’s the scoop.
- Use a cleaning product: This sounds almost insultingly obvious, but it’s no less effective. Numerous products in the cleaning aisle at your nearest grocery store are designed to remove sweat and other stains from your shirts and undergarments.
- Apply white vinegar: White vinegar is something of a miracle worker when it comes to pit stains. Mix two tablespoons of white vinegar with every cup of warm water, and soak your clothes for 15-45 minutes before washing. If you’re pressed for time, dip a sponge in white vinegar and rub the impacted area before starting a load.
Avoid Deodorant and Antiperspirant Stains Altogether
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