Everybody sweats, but no one likes to slip on a favorite shirt to discover those telltale yellowing underarm stains. Sweat marks accumulate not only because you're working hard (kudos!), but also the antiperspirant you're using can also contribute to the build-up — not fair, we know.
To help save your perspiration-soaked clothes from the trash, Carolyn Forte, Director of the Cleaning Products and Textiles Labs at the Good Housekeeping Institute, shared her go-to removal methods. Here's the best way to get sweat stains out of white and colored shirts, plus your favorite hats:
What You'll Need to Remove Sweat Stains
How to Remove Sweat Stains: Colors
Start by checking the tag. Dry-clean only stuff should go straight to the pros. If it's safe to tackle at home, first sponge the area with white vinegar, especially if you see white salt lines or the fabric feels stiff. Then pretreat with an enzyme prewash stain remover like Carbona Stain Wizard or rub liquid enzyme detergent like GH Seal Star Tide into the stain. Wash right away using the hottest water that's safe for the fabric.
After the cycle, air dry the shirts to ensure the marks have disappeared. Putting them in the dryer before removing the stain completely can set it for good.
For extra stubborn marks, you may also want to add Clorox 2 Stain Remover and Color Booster to the wash cycle. It's especially made for colored clothes and other items not safe to chlorine bleach.
You can also soak the clothes in a detergent and water solution before washing for additional stain-fighting power:
- Fill a small tub with about one gallon of warm water.
- Add 2-3 tablespoons of liquid detergent and mix.
- Let soak for 30 minutes to an hour before washing.
How to Remove Sweat Stains: Whites
You'll want to follow a similar method for getting your white shirts white once again as well. Sponge the sweat stains with white vinegar before pretreating with an enzyme prewash stain remover like Carbona or liquid enzyme detergent like Tide. Then wash on the hottest cycle that's safe for the fabric, adding regular Clorox Bleach for especially stubborn marks. Soaking the tees in a detergent and water solution before washing can also help remove yellowing areas. Air dry until you're sure they're gone, as the heat of the dryer can make those pit stains permanent.
How to Remove Sweat Stains: Hats
If your favorite baseball cap is starting to look a little worse for wear, don't throw it in the washing machine just yet. The cycle can distort the shape — no bueno. It's best to hand wash (if it's safe according to the label) and then scrub the stained area with a soft brush (like an old toothbrush or dish brush) before rinsing. Once the stain is gone, blot the hat with a towel, re-shape, and air dry.