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How to Get Sweat Stains Out of Shirts

As warm temperatures roll around every year, the main thing you have to worry about staining your clothes is. What’s more, certain types of shirts, such as white t-shirts and shirts made from certain fabric types, are more prone to showing sweat stains. So how do you get sweat stains out of shirts?

Sweat stains can be difficult to remove from shirts, especially if they’ve been there a while. You can remove yellow sweat stains using vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice, commercial stain removers, laundry detergents, or bleach.

In this article, I’ll explain how to get sweat stains out of shirts. I’ll explain several methods you can use to remove sweat stains from both white and colored shirts. I’ll also explain how to prevent sweat from staining your shirts in the future.

How to Get Sweat Stains Out of Shirts

What Causes Yellow Armpit Stains?

Sweat stains are the yellowish stains that you may see on the armpits of your t-shirts and other clothes. Before I explain how to get sweat stains out of shirts, what causes these yellow armpit stains in the first place? It’s sweat, but what is it about sweat that leaves the stain?

Sweat is a mixture of water and body oils. When you sweat and it gets on your clothes, the water can evaporate from the fabric, but the oil stays behind and dries. It saturates into the fabric and since body oil has a yellowish tinge to it, it leaves behind a yellow stain.

Body oils can also mix with chemicals found in deodorants. The mixture of body oil and deodorant can get on the armpits of your clothes as well. This can cause more yellowing over time or can cause the yellow stains to look darker than normal.

Are Sweat Stains Permanent?

Sweat stains aren’t permanent, but some will be harder to remove than others. The thing about sweat stains is that they can be stubborn to remove. You may even think that these stains are permanent and that you’ll never get them out of your clothes.

You can remove sweat stains from shirts, but how easy it is will depend on how long the stain has been there. If the stain is fresh, pre-treating it right away gives you the highest chance of getting it out. If the stain has dried or has been there a while, it may be very hard to remove. If the stain was on the shirt and it has been put in the dryer a few times, it will be hard to remove.

In some cases, if the stain has been there a while, it might not come out at all. The bottom line is that the fresher the stain is and the more you pre-treat it, the less likely it is to be permanent.

How to Get Sweat Stains Out of Shirts: 8 Ways

Below are some of the most effective methods for getting sweat stains out of shirts. There isn’t one that is necessarily better than the others. Which one will be the best and the most effective depends on the type of fabric and the size of the stain, plus how long the stain has been there.

1. Hydrogen Peroxide and Dish Soap

Hydrogen PeroxideSince sweat stains are oil-based stains, dish soap can be an effective ingredient for getting them out of clothes. Dish soap is designed to break down oily and greasy foods, which is why it works so well for sweat.

To use this method, you’ll first need to mix one part dish soap with two parts hydrogen peroxide. Use a toothbrush or soft-bristled cleaning brush to scrub the mixture into the stain. Let the dish soap and peroxide mixture soak on the stain for a few hours overnight, depending on how large the stain is and how long it has been there.

After soaking, follow up by washing the shirt. But don’t put the shirt in the dryer until you’re sure that the stain has been completely removed.

2. White Vinegar, Hydrogen Peroxide, and Baking Soda

VinegarAnother very effective method for removing sweat stains from shirts is to use white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda. The vinegar and hydrogen peroxide help break down the stain and reduce yellowing, while the baking soda absorbs some of the oil left behind by sweat.

You’ll want to mix one cup of white vinegar with ½ cup of baking soda and one tablespoon of salt and hydrogen peroxide. Mixing these ingredients will create a paste. Scrub the paste into the stains with a soft-bristled brush or toothbrush.

Let the paste soak on the shirt for 10 minutes overnight, depending on how long the stain has been there. After soaking, wash the shirt as you normally would.

3. OxiClean

OxiClean In WasherOxiClean is an effective commercial stain remover and laundry product that works great for removing stains from clothing and it should work well for sweat stains as well. It’s really easy to use and works great for whitening and brightening clothes and removing stains.

To use it, you’ll need to add some OxiClean powder to a tub of water according to the instructions on the packaging. The amount you add will depend on how many gallons of water you’re using. Then, add the shirt to the water and let it soak for up to 6 hours, depending on the size of the stain and how long it has been there. After soaking, wash the clothing as normal.

4. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is highly acidic and because of this, it can break down stains and whiten and brighten clothing. However, this method may be more effective on fresh sweat stains than on stains that have been there.

To use it, you’ll need to mix equal parts of lemon juice and warm water. Then, dip a soft-bristled brush into the mixture and scrub the shirt. Let the lemon juice and water soak on the stains for a few hours to overnight, if necessary. Then, wash the shirt to remove the lemon juice and stains.

5. Salt

This is another method that works for fresh sweat stains, as the salt can help absorb some of the stains. The abrasiveness of salt can help to scrub away the stain as well. Just mix 4 tablespoons of salt into one liter of warm water.

Then, as with the other methods, you will scrub the stains with a soft-bristled brush. Let the saltwater mixture soak the stain for a few hours up to overnight. Follow up by washing the shirt.

6. Aspirin

Another method you can try for removing sweat stains is aspirin. This may not work for every sweat stain, especially if the stain is made worse by chemicals found in some deodorants. However, it may be worth giving it a try if nothing else has seemed to work since aspirin contains acid.

You’ll first need to crush about 3 to 4 aspirin using a mortar and pestle. Or, you can put them in a sealable plastic bag and crush them gently with a spoon or another utensil. Then, fill a small bowl with water and let the aspirin dissolve in it.

You can either scrub the stain with a soft brush or pour the aspirin and water mixture into a spray bottle and spray it directly onto the stain. Let the stain soak for a few hours or even overnight. Then, wash the shirt.

7. Enzymatic Stain Remover/Laundry Detergent

Zout Triple Enzyme Formula Laundry Stain Remover Foam, 22 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)All of the above methods are great, but they may not do much for old stains that have been there a while. If you need something stronger, you can try an enzymatic stain remover and/or laundry detergent. These products have enzymes in them that work to break down biological stains.

You can apply the stain remover directly to the stain according to the instructions on the packaging. Let it sit for the specified amount of time. You can also apply laundry detergent directly onto the stain instead and scrub it with a soft brush. Let it sit for a few hours. Then, follow up by washing the shirt with an enzymatic detergent.

8. Oxygen Bleach

Savvy Green, Oxygen Brightening Powder Lbs, Unscented, 40 OunceIf all else fails, you can try using oxygen bleach. It is safe to use on most types of clothing and can remove sweat stains and whiten and brighten the clothing. But, check the shirt’s care tag before using it to make sure that it’s safe to use oxygen bleach.

When using it, make sure to follow the packaging directions carefully. You’ll need to mix the bleach with water and soak the stained shirt in the solution. After soaking, wash the clothing with an enzymatic laundry detergent for best results.

Will Sweat Stains Come Out in the Wash?

How to Remove Old Sweat Stains

Sweat stains may come out in the wash if you wash the shirt immediately, but you can’t always count on this. Since sweat stains are caused by oil, they often can’t be removed with just water alone since oil and water don’t mix. Even with laundry detergent in the wash, it often is too diluted with water to be effective at removing stubborn stains.

Being oil-based stains, sweat stains usually need a more direct treatment. You need to use a product that can help draw out some of the oil or break it down. That’s why pre-treating the stain before washing it is necessary.

But, not all pre-treatment methods will work on all sweat stains. You may have to try several before you find one that is effective. If the stain is dry and old, it likely won’t come out in the wash. You will have to pre-treat older sweat stains. When you wash the stained clothing, an enzymatic laundry detergent is your best bet for getting the stains out.

How to Remove Old Sweat Stains

Old sweat stains are the toughest stains to remove. They have been set in the fabric for a while and may have been put through the dryer. When dealing with old sweat stains, the stronger the chemicals you can use, the better.

If you want a more natural cleaning method, the most effective thing you can try is the vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide method. You can also use the hydrogen peroxide and dish soap method. In either case, you’ll want something that specifically targets the oily part of the stain. This would be either the baking soda or the dish soap. The vinegar and hydrogen peroxide helps to remove the discoloration from clothes.

If these methods don’t work, you’ll need to turn to something stronger. Commercial stain removers designed for oily stains will be the most effective at removing old sweat stains.

As a last resort, you can always try using oxygen bleach or, in some cases, chlorine bleach. Oxygen bleach is safer, as chlorine bleach is a much stronger chemical and can cause discoloration in colored clothing. When using either, make sure that you check the care tag first to make sure it’s safe to do so. Follow the directions carefully when using any type of bleach.

Note that if the stains have been there for years and you’re trying to remove them, they may not come out and all. This is especially true if the clothing has been put through the dryer multiple times, as heat can set the stain permanently. That also means that when washing shirts with fresh sweat stains on them, you don’t want to put them in the dryer until the stain has been removed.

How to Remove Armpit Stains From Colored Shirts

Remove Armpit Stains From Colored Shirts

Removing armpit stains from colored shirts can be tricky because you don’t want to risk taking the color out of the shirt. You’ll want to steer clear of chlorine bleach. But, you do have other effective options.

Again, one of the most effective methods is vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide method or the dish soap and hydrogen peroxide method. In some cases, hydrogen peroxide can take the color out of clothes. But since it will be diluted with water and other chemicals, it shouldn’t be a problem.

However, you may wish to apply a little bit of hydrogen peroxide to a hidden part of the clothing and check for discoloration before using it just to make sure. If all is safe, just follow the directions above.

Another good option is to use a commercial stain remover or oxygen bleach. Both of these products are designed to remove stains without causing discoloration. Just make sure to follow the instructions carefully when using them.

How to Prevent Sweat Stains on Shirts

Sweat stains on shirts can be a frustrating problem, especially if it happens a lot. It’s certainly not your fault that it happens, but there are some things you can do to prevent it from happening.

Wear an Undershirt

If you want to avoid sweat stains on dress shirts or button-ups, one of the best things to do is wear an undershirt. You can wear a white or colored t-shirt under a dress shirt to help soak up some of the sweat and prevent it from getting on the nicer shirt. Then, just pre-treat and wash the undershirt regularly to prevent the stains from becoming permanent.

Apply Antiperspirant

There is a difference between antiperspirant and deodorant. Deodorants are designed to make odors, while antiperspirants reduce sweating. Most deodorants have antiperspirants built into them, but some are stronger than others. If you tend to sweat more, you may wish to apply a stronger antiperspirant.

Stay Hydrated

Not only does staying hydrated help replenish the water lost through sweat, but it can also help reduce sweating in the first place. Reducing sweating can lead to fewer sweat stains. Try to drink plenty of water throughout the day to help keep you cool. You can also eat fruits and veggies that contain lots of water.

Avoid Certain Food and Drinks

Some food and drinks may cause you to sweat more. Hot beverages such as coffee cause sweating in two ways, both by being hot and stimulating the nervous system. Avoid spicy foods as well, especially on already hot days.

Pre-Treat Clothes

If you can’t prevent sweat stains altogether, you can at least pre-treat clothes before washing them to keep the stains from becoming permanent. Any of the pre-treatment methods above should work well for removing sweat stains that are fresh. But remember that older sweat stains may need something stronger to be effective.

Talk to a Doctor

If sweating is a chronic problem for you or you feel like you sweat more than you should, you can always talk to a doctor. There could be something that is causing you to sweat more than normal. A doctor can help you figure out what’s causing it and can even prescribe you some medicine that can be used to treat it.


Sweat stains on clothing can be stubborn to remove. This is mostly because sweat contains body oils, which don’t evaporate from clothing the way water does. There are several ways that you can get sweat stains out of clothes. Using them to pre-treat the stains is the best way to get them out of clothing. And there are steps you can take to prevent sweat stains from getting on your clothing in the first place. If you found this article helpful, share it with others and leave a comment. Thanks for reading!