How to Remove Deodorant Stains From Clothing

By: Contributors & Yara Simón  | 
A stick of white deodorant against a yellow background
You want this on your pits, not staining your favorite black tee. Douglas Sacha / Getty Images

Deodorant hides the body odor emitted by perspiration. While a necessary product for many of us, it also creates another problem: the dreaded white stain.

If you don't know how to remove deodorant stains, you may have relegated your favorite navy blue shirt to the "only wear at home when no one's around" section of your closet, because these nasty armpit stains aren't easily removed in the laundry.


People don't always realize that using deodorants can cause tough stains that, if not dealt with, can cause a build-up of residue that is unsightly as well as bad for the garment's fabric [source: Varsity Cleaners]. Knowing the correct way to get rid of a stain is important if you want to keep your clothes looking, and feeling, good.

What Causes Deodorant Stains?

The ingredients in antiperspirants and deodorants cause stains. In antiperspirants, this ingredient is aluminum salts, which can leave white marks on your clothes. Deodorants may not have aluminum salts, but they still contain other ingredients that can cause stains.

Essentially, the ingredients transfer onto your skin and then to your shirt. "When you sweat through these ingredients, they can form solid stains that are often hard to remove in the wash," according to Nivea.


Deodorant Stains vs. Sweat Stains

Deodorant stains and sweat stains are not the same. For one, they might not occur in the same place. Deodorant stains will appear where you apply deodorant, meaning under your armpits.

Sweat stains can also appear on your armpit area, but they can occur in other places, too. For example, a hat can have sweat stains.


Deodorant and sweat stains also appear differently. Deodorant stains are white. Sweat stains happen when your sweat mixes with your deodorant or natural bacteria. They show up as yellow stains, especially on light-colored and white clothing.

How to Get Deodorant Stains Out

You might not be able to get deodorant stains out of every type of clothing item. For example, any garment with the "dry clean only" care label is best left to the professionals [source: Munson]. Here are some tips for removing deodorant stains from washable garments.


For this stain-= removal method, start by dipping a sponge into some white vinegar. Apply the vinegar liberally to the stain.


Let the shirt stand for a few minutes and then wash it in the washing machine on the hottest temperature recommended by the manufacturer. Repeat the process on stubborn stains [source: Heloise].


Soak the garment for 15 minutes in a mixture of 1 quart (946 mL) of lukewarm water, ½ teaspoon (3 mL) liquid hand-dishwashing detergent and 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of ammonia. Be sure to use cool to lukewarm water.

Rub gently from the back of the garment to loosen the stain. Soak the stain in the above mixture for another 15 minutes before rinsing thoroughly and laundering [source: Porter].

Alcohol-based Cleansers

You can remove stains with rubbing alcohol, which works well at removing spray-deodorant stains. Rub the alcohol directly on the stain and then wash it off thoroughly [source: Good Housekeeping].

Lemon Juice

Combine lemon juice, which has a natural bleaching effect, with equal parts water. Rub the mixture on the stain. Then place your clothing item in the sun for an hour. Rinse and then wash as normal.

Hydrogen Peroxide

For white clothes, use hydrogen peroxide. Mix the product with equal parts water.

Nylon Stockings

For dark clothing, rubbing nylon stockings on fresh stains can prove effective.


How to Prevent Deodorant Stains

There are a few things you can do to avoid stains in the first place, and it mostly comes down to what kind of deodorant you use and the application.

  • Let your deodorant dry. Don't put on a T-shirt or other piece of clothing until your deodorant fully dries.
  • Choose aluminum-free deodorants. Try aluminum-free deodorants or products that don't have ingredients that cause stains.
  • Don't overdo it. Applying too much deodorant can lead to stains, so apply just enough to help with body odor.