How To Get Sweat Stains Out Of Clothes In 4 Quick Steps

Even though we live in a relatively cool climate we still all sweat. Whether it's from doing exercise, feeling nervous, or the sun deciding to come out for a change, we have all had sweaty smelly clothes at some point in our lives.

Luckily it's pretty easy to remove sweat and body odour from clothes once you know how.

Read on to find out why sweat leads to yellow stains, why our body odour smells, and how you can tackle both of these problems.

Why Does Sweat Turn Clothes Yellow?

You may be surprised to learn that the sweat is not the reason your garments turn yellow in the armpit region.

Well, sweat is partly to blame, but it's actually because of the antiperspirant you wear to try and avoid sweating that you get the yellow patches - ironic much?

Antiperspirant contains aluminium which aims to stop you sweating by blocking your pores. However, there is only so much sweat the aluminium can hold back before the sweat runs, taking the aluminium with it and onto your shirt armpits.

There are some alternatives to antiperspirant, such as just deodorant, if you're tired of treating yellow stains. This is not a popular options as many would rather deal with yellow stains than sweaty armpits on a daily basis!

Why Does Body Ordour Smell?

We have sweat glands all over us to help us regulate our temperature. It's an essential and important function of our body.

Unfortunately, not all sweat glands are the same, and some of them secrete liquids which go on to smell.

Eccrine sweat glands release sweat that is primarily made of water and is pretty odourless, these are found all over our body.

Apocrine sweat glands are found in specific areas of the body, for example, your armpits.

bo stains on clothes

Apocrine sweat glands release lipids and proteins. These lipids and proteins don't actually smell. The smell is caused by the bacteria that live in your armpits feasting on the lipids and proteins which releases an unpleasant odour.

Now you know the reason for the smelly garments you discover when doing the "sniff-test", read on to learn how to tackle it!


How To Remove Sweat Stains With Bleach

Ideally, you would catch the yellow stain quickly and just sprinkle some oxygen-based bleach on the armpits before you wash the garment.

Unfortunately, normally you don't spot the stain until it's already set in. This method should help you remove set yellow stains

What You'll Need:

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    Oxygen-based bleach
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    Bucket or large tub
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    Soft-bristle toothbrush (optional)
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    Bio-laundry detergent.

Oxygen-based bleach is sold under the brand names of "Vanish Oxi Action" and "Astonish Oxy Plus".

There are other suppliers, you just need to keep your eyes peeled for "sodium percarbonate" on the ingredient list.

Now you've got everything you need, here's how's how to remove yellow stains with oxygen bleach.

Step 1 - Soak Items

  • Fill a large tub or a clean sink with hot water.

  • Add a scoop of your oxygen-based bleach and mix until the bleach is fully dissolved.
     
  • Add the garments to the mixture and fully submerge them.
     
  • Allow to soak for a minimum of 15 minutes but ideally 30 minutes.

Step 2 - Agitate Items

  • Rub the garments together in order to agitate and lift the yellow stain. 

If you prefer, you could use an old, soft-bristle, toothbrush. Take care not to damage the fabric.

Step 3 - Wash Garment

  • Wash the garments at the hottest temperature that is safe for the items (check the care label).

For white cotton shirts, this is often the highest temperature available on your washing machine. 

A biological (bio) laundry detergent will be most effective at removing the stain.

Step 4 - Air Dry

  • Hang the garments to dry in the sunshine.

The sun has a natural bleaching effect and can help lighten stains. The sun is also a natural disinfectant, and being free, it is the best way to dry clothes!


How To Remove Yellow Stains With Aspirin

Aspirin is widely used medication, with an estimated 50-120 billion pills being used each year!

Aspirin is useful beyond being an effective pain and inflammation treatment. It contains salicylic acid which can help to remove yellow stains.

What You'll Need:

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    Aspirin tablets
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    A Bowl
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    Two spoons (to crush aspirin)

Here's how to get rid of yellow stains with aspirin!

Step 1 - Create An Aspirin Paste

  • Crush 5-6 aspiring tablets between two spoons until they have been broken into small lumps. 

  • Add the aspirin to a small bowl of hot water and stir until dissolved.

Step 2 - Apply Aspirin

  • Apply the aspirin mixture to the yellow stains.

Step 3 - Wash Garment

  • Wash the garment at a high temperature with bio laundry detergent. 

Check the care label before washing to ensure the temperature is not too hot.

Step 4 - Air Dry

Dry the garment in the sunshine to take advantage of the natural bleaching and disinfecting properties.


How To Remove Body Odour From Clothes

Body odour in clothes can persist even after you have washed the item. You often notice it when you iron the armpit area and get hit with the stench of stale body odour - yuck!

Don't worry, you can still save the clothes - just follow the instructions below.

What You'll Need:

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    Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
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    Large bucket or tub
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    Bio laundry detergent

If you don't have any bicarbonate of soda to hand, you can also use distilled white vinegar.

Here's how to get rid of body ordour smells from clothes:

Step 1 - Soak Smelly Clothes

  • Fill a large bucket, or a clean sink, with warm water.
     
  • Add a generous amount of bicarbonate of soda to the water and mix with your hand to dissolve.

  • Submerge the smelly clothes in the water.
     
  • Leave them overnight to allow the bicarbonate of soda to get to work.

Step 2 - Wash

  • Wash the clothes at a high temperature.

Make sure you check care labels first to ensure it is within the safe limit.

Use a bio laundry detergent for best results.

Step 3 - Air Dry

  • Dry the clothes outside.

The sun will help kill any lingering bacteria, and the wind will help air out any remaining smells.


If all these tips don't help you get rid of those stubborn stains, here's a video with some more methods for you.


By now your clothes should be smelling fresh with no sign of sweat stains in sight!

If you have a particularly athletic family member, or a friend that wears white shirts to work everyday, consider sharing this article with them so they know how to tackle these problems too.

We also have a list for dealing with 10 common stains, too!