Skip to main content

Home Ec: Remove Sweat Stains

Filed Under: Essential Skills, Know-How, Outdoors


Dynamic Graphics

The dog days of summer are here, and for most of us, that means sweat stains-on our tee shirts, hats, and even on our couches.

Sweat stains are usually the result of perspiration and body oils mixing together. Those pesky yellow underarm stains form when your sweat combines with the aluminum in your antiperspirant. Tackling sweat stains early is the best way to banish them. Here are some techniques to try.

REMOVING SWEAT STAINS FROM CLOTHING

Washable Fabrics (Cotton, linen, nylon, polyester, etc.)

Whites
Clothes made from durable, light-colored fabric can handle the most aggressive treatments -- which is helpful, since sweat stains are the most noticeable on white garments. Try pretreating the stain with detergent or a stain remover like Spray 'N Wash or OxiClean and a soft-bristled toothbrush. If that doesn't work, try soaking the stain in a mixture of half water, half hydrogen peroxide for 30 minutes.

Here are a few other techniques you can try:

Aspirin: Crush two aspirin tablets and mix with ½ cup water. Soak the stain in this solution for two to three hours.
Baking soda: Make a paste from 4 tablespoons baking soda and 1/4 cup water and rub it directly into the sweat stains. Leave it on the stain for up to two hours before laundering.
Ammonia: Spot treat the stain by dabbing it with a solution of half water, half ammonia.

After treating the stain with your method of choice, launder the garment using an enzyme-based liquid laundry detergent, such as Wisk or Tide.

Colors
If your sweat stains are light, try the pretreating method above: a stain remover like Spray 'N Wash or OxiClean and a gentle scrubbing of the treated area with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Then launder in an enzyme detergent. If the garment emerges from the wash with the stains intact, try ammonia or baking soda using the instructions above; just be sure to do a colorfastness test an inconspicuous area first to make sure these ingredients don't remove the dye.

Tip: Don't tumble dry or iron a garment until you're sure the stain has come out-heat will set perspiration stains, making them near-impossible to remove.


Delicate Fabrics (silk, wool, rayon)

Stain removers and enzyme detergents can damage delicate fabrics. For the most part, it's best to shell out the money and have a dry cleaning professional tackle sweat stains in rayon or silk blouses, cashmere sweaters, and the like. But if your garment is machine washable and you want to DIY it, try treating the stain with a solution of white vinegar and water (about two tablespoons of vinegar per cup of water). Gently work the solution into the stain with a soft cloth (if your clothing is wool, you can soak the stain in the vinegar water for about 30 minutes, but silk and rayon should not be left to soak, because water can leave a mark on these fabrics) and launder following the instructions on the tag. You can also try pretreating the stain in the detergent you'll use to wash the garment.

Tony Latham, Getty Images


REMOVING SWEAT STAINS FROM UPHOLSTERY
When in doubt about treating a stain on furniture, call a professional cleaner; being too aggressive could leave your sofa or chair with an even bigger mark than the one you started with. Having said that, here are some techniques to try:

Microfiber

Many microfiber sofas have removable covers that can be machine-washed. If that's the case with yours, follow the stain removal instructions above for washable color laundry. Otherwise, try spot treating the stain with mild detergent or diluted white vinegar.

Leather
Wash the area using a soft sponge or cloth and a small amount of leather soap or baby shampoo and water (don't soak the leather). Then press the area with a dry cloth to soak up excess water. If this doesn't work, try treating the stain with a solution of 3 parts water and 1 part white vinegar (test in an inconspicuous area first). Rub the mixture over the stain with a sponge or soft cloth and then dab the area dry.

Suede
Use a dry soft-bristled brush on the stain to prep the fibers and remove any debris. Dampen a cloth with just water and lightly dab the stain. If this doesn't remove the stain, dip the cloth in a mixture of 1 tablespoon white vinegar and 1 cup of water and gently work it into the stain. (Test an inconspicuous area first, for colorfastness.) Follow with a dry microfiber cloth to absorb any excess water. A suede cleaning kit may also do the trick.


  • Judy

    The best way to remove even old dried, set in stains is with Scrubbing Bubbles, the bathroom cleaner. Just shake it up, spray, and let the bubbles work for about a minute before washing. I have been amazed to see it remove stains from fabrics that have been repeatedly washed and dried.

    Reply
  • may west

    Anyone ever vinegar(plain white)? I put it in with the detergent to begin. I've used it for years with great results; it's a fixture beside my washer. Works for me and it's cheap.


  • Sammie

    I am going to try that RIGHT NOw... thanks Judy!


  • Lisa

    Any suggestions for removing the stains when your using well water?


  • Pola

    This is a great tip. Http://www.homeremediesguide.info


  • kristi

    someone asked how to get well water stains out. i use a cleaner called "web." it's amazing! it takes all of the well water stains out. you can find it on the cleaning aisles at some grocery stores and sometimes walmart carries it. hope this helps.


  • Chris

    My co workers have issues with this and are obsessed wiht talking about it. This will be a big help.

    Reply
  • Alyssa

    For stains on white, I use peroxide and dawn soap. I have a bowl with dawn and water and another bowl of peroxide. I pour a little peroxide on the fabric and dip a toothbrush in the dawn soap water. I lightly scrub the stain until it comes out. This is the only thing that I find that works for very good:) I don’t know about colors though still working on that

    Reply
  • Shirley

    Try using a mixture of 1/2 baking sode and 1/2 Dawn liquid and applying to stained are for about an hour and then throwing into regular wash.


  • Alyssa

    For stains on white, I use peroxide and dawn soap. I have a bowl with dawn and water and another bowl of peroxide. I pour a little peroxide on the fabric and dip a toothbrush in the dawn soap water. I lightly scrub the stain until it comes out. This is the only thing that I find that works for very good:) I don’t know about colors though still working on that

    Reply
  • Cheryl

    SOIL LOVE.....I get it at the 99cent store ( it comes in a green bottle) but have also found it at my grocery store here in Southern California. My family wears alot of white in the summer and have found that Soil Love is the greatest at removing sweat stains. You just pour it on the stain before washing and wash as usual. It also works on OLD, set-in sweat stains but it takes a few washings. Works great on all other stains too.

    Reply
  • m

    Is this a chemistry course discussion? To remove darn near anytning on a white fabric, one uses good old fashion bleach. Works first time and every time. (Its what its made for)

    Reply
  • ENNUI

    HOW TO RID YOUR CLOTHES OF SWEAT STAINS....GO TO THE NEAREST POOL, AND JUMP IN WITH ALL YOUR CLOTHES ON....TRUST ME, THE STAINS WILL NOT BE SEEN!

    Reply
  • 13 Comments / 1 Pages
Advertisement

Follow Us

  • No features currently available.

  • More Hot Topics The Daily Fix  •  DIY Warrior  •  Home Ec  •  Handmade
    DIY Disaster Doctor  •  In the Workshop  •  Product Picks

    Home Improvement Videos