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Help! Armpit Stains!

Posted on April 8, 2012 by Lyndsee Campbell

Armpit stainMy children enjoy story time at the library.  While they’re occupied, I’ll sometimes peruse the bookshelves to see if anything catches my eye.  On  a recent trip, I found myself standing next to an older man in the biography section.  He smiled pleasantly and wished me a good morning.  I noticed that he was wearing a white tee-shirt with a pair of trousers; he reminded me of someone from our church.

We stood there for a couple minutes and just as I turned his way to take a book from the shelf, he raised his right arm to do the same.  I couldn’t help but notice the yellow stain on the armpit of his shirt.  It took every ounce of willpower I had to silence my inner laundress and not explain that those types of stains were tragic and unnecessary.

I used to think that yellow stains were caused by excessive sweating or lack of deodorant.  The truth is that they’re the results of chemical reactions between our sweat and anti-perspirants.  It turns out that anti-perspirants contain aluminum compounds, which reduce wetness.  When those compounds build-up on clothing, the end results are those unsightly yellow stains.

The easiest way to prevent yellow stains is to wear an undershirt.  If that’s not possible, start reading anti-perspirant labels; they contain various amounts of aluminum compounds.  Choose one that contains the lowest amount of compound while still providing moisture protection you need.  It’s also helpful to let your anti-perspirant dry before getting dressed.

If you perspire while wearing a white shirt or blouse, launder it as soon as possible.  Should you notice the onset of yellow stains, stop putting the garment in the dryer.  The heat will allow any residual stains to set, making them nearly impossible to remove.  Drying the shirts in the sun will help to whiten them.

By now you may be wondering how to get rid of those pesky yellow stains that are already lurking on your clothes.  There are two possible solutions:

1:1:1 Solution –  Mix 1/4 cup each of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and water.  Rub the solution into a stain and allow it to sit for 30 minutes.  Use a toothbrush to loosen any residue and wash it according to the directions on the garment’s tag.

1:1 Solution – Combine two tablespoons of an oxygen-based bleach with two tablespoons of ammonia.  If you’re wondering what an oxygen-based bleach is, it’s chlorine-free (think Clorox 2, OxiClean, etc).  Go to a ventilated room, throw on some rubber gloves and rub the solution onto the stain for at least 30 seconds.  Wash as usual, according the the article’s instructions.

Yellow stains are usually invisible on darker colors, but you’ll know they’re there if you notice a certain stiffness or reside on the underarm fabric.  To freshen the clothing, fill the washing machine with cold water and add a cup of white vinegar.  Allow the clothes to soak for 30 minutes before emptying the water and laundering the clothing as usual.

With the warm weather fast approaching, we’ll undoubtedly have our share of sweaty and smelly clothes landing in the hampers.  Use these tips to keep yours clean and fresh or let Laundry Care do it for you.