Yellow armpit stains on your white shirts…YUCK!

Despite being the coolest guy you know, I’m going to admit I have this nasty little problem. One of my best friends, Carlos, constantly gives me grief over this. Yellow stains on the underarms of your shirts isn’t just ugly, but it can contribute to the demise of plenty of nice, white summery shirts.

While staining does have to do with sweating, you can get your shirts white and clean with a few treatments and a little bit of elbow grease.

There are plenty of ways to remove underarm stains, but the problem is that you want to choose the right way to clean your shirts. There’s no trial and error with your designer white cotton shirts, so read on for tested methods that will definitely get your shirts clean.

Try a solution of one part water to four parts laundry detergent. You can spray it over the underarms of your white shirt (inside out, of course), and then allow it to sit for an hour or so. Afterwards, use a spare soft toothbrush or scrub brush to brush the underarms of your shirt gently. Rinse your shirt clean with cool water. Next, soak your white shirt overnight in a bucket of cold water and a few tablespoons of laundry detergent. Your shirt will be ready to wash in the morning.

Warning: These instructions only work with washable white shirts. Everything else must be brought to the cleaners, unless you want your favorite shirt ruined further. . . probably not.

Wash your shirt as soon as possible. If you let your shirt hang around, it won’t respond as well to washing as a freshly soiled shirt will. Using laundry detergent specially formulated for whites, add the amount recommended on the bottle or box to your washing machine. Wash your whites in hot water.

Consider adding the following products to make your whites even brighter (no, they’re not complicated):
• Use a ½ cup of lemon juice in the rinse cycle of your laundry. This method will work best when the laundry is hung out on the line to dry afterward.
• Add a half cup of vinegar to your rinse cycle wash if you have very hard water (high mineral content).
• Add a ½ cup of washing soda or borax to your laundry to get your whites perfectly, blindingly white. This is only good for water that isn’t hard.

Tip: Consider using commercial stain removers like OxyClean during the wash cycle for extra whiteness.

If at all possible, dry your white shirts in the sun. This can help to “draw out” stains, and make your white shirt look even whiter than it did after you washed it. If you can’t dry your shirt outside, try air drying indoors instead.

Avoid drying your shirt in the dryer. Heat can set residual stains and will not help you get the whitest shirt possible.

• Wearing undershirt (preferably v-neck) whenever possible is a nice idea to save your shirts from staining.
• Storing whites in the dark can actually cause yellowing, so find a light, bright shelf to keep natural fiber white shirts.



Filed under Cleaning, white

7 responses to “Yellow armpit stains on your white shirts…YUCK!

  1. Brandon

    If you’re getting yellow stains, you’re not using a strong enough deodorant.

    Check the aluminum gly content and pick a deodorant that has a higher concentration.

    The yellow happens when sweat reacts with aluminum gly. More aluminum gly will properly eradicate sweat and leave your shirts pitstain free.

  2. Tommy hifiger

    Nice story. I just bookmarked it!

  3. Amber

    You can also prevent the pit stains and the wet marks with a product like Garment Guard. (which you can get at Depending on how serious the stain is and the type of fabric, not even the drycleaner can get it out, so I find it best to stop the stains before they start.

  4. I have NEVER been troubled with yellow armpit stains until recently, when I had to move in with my son and d.i.l. I noticed that they both had yellow stains on their white tees.
    Subsequently, I developed the same stains.
    I take issue with folks who contend the problem is with the chemicals in deodorants.
    I’m using the same deodorant I always used.
    I use the same laundry detergent as always.
    I firmly believe the reason is – HARD WATER.
    The chemicals in deodorant MAY be the reason that HARD WATER causes the deposits to turn yellow when laundered in HARD WATER.
    But given the fact that the only change in my case has been a change of venue, I don’t see the chemicals as causing the stains.
    My 2 cents worth.

    • Mahalo

      While you may be onto something with the hard water, I have an opposite story. No change in venue whatsoever, no change in detergent. The only thing that changed was aging (i.e., becoming a teenager), which meant using anti-perspirant.

      I switched from antiperspirant to deodorant only, and no longer have the problem. The aluminium zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly (or similar) ingredient in antiperspirant seems to be at fault in my opinion. Non-antiperspirant deodorant does not contain this ingredient.

      Hard water may exacerbate the effect, but the root of the problem is likely the anti-perspirant ingredient.

  5. Mahalo

    When I was a kid, I never had problems with white t-shirts getting yellow armpit stains. When, I was a teenager and into adulthood, I did. What changed? Well, most little kids don’t use antiperspirant, whereas teenagers do.

    Being a label reader, I started comparing ingredients and noticed that the main difference between the “antiperspirant/deodorant” and the “deodorant only” products was an ingredient called Aluminium zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly (or similar).

    In chem. class, we performed a basic experiment combining a certain metallic chemical with something else, which formed a yellow precipitate. However unscientific my approach, I decided that maybe the aluminium zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly was causing a precipitate to form on my shirts when mixed with my sweat. So I switched to non-antiperspirant deodorant.

    Voila! No more yellow staining on my white t-shirts. In fact, whereas before they would start to stain within a couple of uses and I’d have to get rid of them after a couple months, now my white t-shirts last forever.

    On a side note, there is another added benefit to deodorant only products: I seem to sweat less, and also my shirts (if they do get sweaty for whatever reason) dry off faster. Aluminium zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly actually clogs pores AND absorbs moisture. That’s how it works. The bad part is, if it gets lodged into your shirt (yellow stains), then it causes your shirt to absorb that moisture, and it will not dry out.

    Drop the anti-perspirant. Use deodorant only. Choose a good quality deodorant, though. Don’t go cheap. You will be a lot happier and your shirts a lot whiter.

    • Brenda Lee

      Thanks Mahalo, I will try deodorant from now on, I had no idea that antiperspirant and deodorant were different…that’s why I get for not reading the labels. Mahalo!! aka thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s