June 19, 2021

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How to Remove Sweat Stains From White Shirts — And Everything Else

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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 Home Appliances & Cleaning Products Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, shared her go-to methods on how to remove sweat stains from white and colored shirts, plus your most-worn hats.

How to Remove Sweat Stains: Colors

Start by checking the tag on your piece of clothing. 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 Devils or rub liquid enzyme detergent like GH Seal Star Tide into the stain. Wash it 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.

For additional stain-fighting power, you can also soak the clothes in a detergent and water solution, as shown below:

  1. Fill a small tub with about 1 gallon of warm water.
  2. Add 2-3 Tbsp of liquid detergent and mix.
  3. 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 making your white shirts look white again. 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. 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.

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