How to Get Rid of Sweat Stains and Make Clothes Look New

By: Editors of Consumer Guide & Yara Simón  | 
Black and white photo of a man in a wheelchair racing his son around a track
Getting soaked with sweat doesn't have to mean ruining your clothes. Zigy Kaluzny / Getty Images

Perspiration is the body's way of cooling itself. What's not cool are the unsightly sweat stains it can leave behind on your clothing. The good news is that learning how to get rid of sweat stains is easy, whether they're darkened spots or yellow stains.

Read on to find out effective ways to treat sweat stains.


What Causes Sweat Stains?

Sweat stains happen when your sweat mixes with your deodorant or natural bacteria.

"The combination of water, fats, proteins and salt in your sweat — as well as the deodorant additives like aluminum and zirconium, and body oils — all contribute to sweat stains," according to Maytag. "These molecules build up over time to ultimately embed into the fabric of clothing fibers, and may even bind to the fabric and cause the yellow discoloration often found on sweat-stained clothing."


They can appear on the armpit area of your clothing, as well as other places where you sweat. For example, you can stain the band inside a baseball hat with sweat.

Are Sweat Stains Permanent?

You can remove sweat stains. However, some are impervious to the stain-removal process. Grove suggests not using a dryer if you see a spot, as it can make stains worse. Instead, Grove recommends you air dry the affected clothing item.


­How to Remove Sweat Stains From Different Materials

You can use a commercial stain remover to get rid of spots, but there are also DIY solutions you can try. The first step in removing a sweat stain is to identify the stained material.­­­ Below are the most common types of materials that can become sweat-stained, with steps on how to remove sweat from each.

  • Delicate fibers such as acetate, rayon, silk or wool
  • Washable fibers such as acrylic fabric, cotton, linen, modacrylic, nylon, olefin, polyester or spandex
  • Leather or suede
  • Vinyl clothing

Delicate Fibers

Follow these steps to remove stubborn sweat stains from acetate, rayon, silk and wool.


  1. Sponge (the method of using a dampened pad to apply light strokes, moving outward from the center of the stain) the area with water, then follow with an application of wet spotter and a few drops of ammonia. (Take care when using ammonia on silk and wool.)
  2. Cover with an absorbent pad moistened with wet spotter.
  3. Let the pad remain in place as long as any stain is being removed.
  4. Change the pad as it picks up the stain.
  5. Keep both the stain and pad moist with wet spotter and ammonia.
  6. Flush well with water and allow to dry thoroughly.

Washable Fibers

Removing sweat stains from washable fabrics (like acrylic fabric, cotton, linen, modacrylic, nylon, olefin, polyester and spandex) only takes a few steps.

  1. Try an enzyme presoak product and use it according to package directions.
  2. After soaking, launder as usual.
  3. For older laundry stains, sponge the area with a diluted solution of distilled white vinegar and water, then launder.
  4. If the fabric color changes, stretch the stained area over a bowl of ammonia so fumes penetrate while the spot is moist.
  5. Prompt treatment of perspiration stains is necessary, as they can weaken most fibers.

Caution: Never iron a garment with perspiration stains. The heat will set the stains.

­Leather or Suede

Follow these steps to remove sweat stains from leather or suede.

  1. Mix a solution of mild soap in lukewarm water.
  2. Swish to create a great volume of suds.
  3. Apply only the foam with a sponge.
  4. Wipe with a clean, dry cloth.
  5. On leather only, follow with cleaners such as Tannery Vintage Leather Cleaner & Conditioner or Fiebing's Saddle Soap to condition the leather. ­

Vinyl Clothing

Follow these steps to remove sweat stains from vinyl clothing.

  1. Add a few drops of ammonia to warm water.
  2. Wipe the stain with a cloth dipped in the warm sudsy water.
  3. Rinse well and wipe dry with a clean cloth.


Other Ingredients That Can Help Remove Sweat Stains

Here are a few other ingredients that can combat unsightly stains.

  • Lemon juice: Lemon juice is a natural bleach, making it an effective stain treatment. Combine equal parts lemon juice and water and apply to the stain. Place it in the sun for an hour. Then wash as usual.
  • Baking soda: Create a baking soda paste. The mixture calls for ½ cup (118 mL) of baking soda, 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of hydrogen peroxide and 1 tablespoon (17 g) of salt. Mix the ingredients well and apply to the stain.
  • Hydrogen peroxide: Mix equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water and apply to the stain. Only use hydrogen peroxide on white clothes.