Friday, March 26, 2010

Removing Underarm Stains

This isn't a very lovely title for a blog post. But then again, underarm stains on your shirt aren't lovely either! And since I wear a lot of white shirts, I needed to find a way to rid them of this nasty blight on a regular basis.


Understanding what causes the stains seemed like a logical place to begin. But apparently, the "experts" don't agree on this. Some believe it is the result of sweat which excretes minerals from your body and onto the shirt. They suggest that drinking more water will dilute these minerals and cause the stains to at least be lighter in color. Others believe that the wax and castor oil from stick deodorants is the culprit. This group recommends switching to a roll on. Still some think it's the result of acid in antiperspirants. Mike Thomas of Proctor and Gamble stated:


"People assume that sweat causes underarm stains, but you wouldn't have stains if it weren't for your antiperspirant. Antiperspirants are very acidic and it's that acidity that causes the colors on your clothes to shift."


Ummm... I don't wear antiperspirants, Mike.


Years ago I gave up antiperspirants and have only worn deodorant since . So obviously, these stains must be the result of more than one factor. Therefore when treating them it may require more than one method.


While there are probably lots of heavy duty chemical agents on the market that would get rid of these stains, I wanted something that was a bit more natural; something I was familiar with and could control. When cleaning antique linens, it is often recommended to spray the spots with white vinegar or lemon juice and lay the garment in the sun for a few hours before washing. I've used this method for other items with some success, but never on underarm stains. However, I really don't have time to lay out each and every garment in the sun and monitor it from the wind and animals on a weekly basis. (Guess I could hang it on a clothesline!)


So, I tried a new recipe for stains this week:


You'll need baking soda and hydrogen peroxide (Do not use on colored fabrics! Try the vinegar instead)...



Mix equal parts of each...


And make a paste...




Here you can see a small stain forming on the trim of my white tank top. It's small and not too dark at this point, but I'm thinking that if I get these when they are light and haven't been set by the heat of the dryer, they'll come clean better. (Can you see it there? It's kind of a grayish stain in the photo - usually they are more yellow)...



Apply with a toothbrush to the stain and massage it in and let it sit for 30 minutes...


Then launder as usual. The results?


The stain is gone! I call this a success!

I tried it on my husbands white shirt around the neckline where he gets a ring around the collar. Again, it worked really well. We may have a winner here. I'm going to continue using it for a few weeks and see if it yields the same results over a period of time and on different fabrics.

So, how do you get rid of underarm stains naturally?


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