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.)
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:
Crush two aspirin tablets and mix with ½ cup water. Soak the stain in this solution for two to three hours.
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.
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.
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.
REMOVING SWEAT STAINS FROM UPHOLSTERY
Tony Latham, Getty Images
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:
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.
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.
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.