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How Do I Get Rid of Underarm Stains?

Posted Nov 29 2009 10:00pm

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Anonymous asks… I was wondering about yellow underarm stains. I don’t know how to a) prevent them, b) get them out of clothing or c) what they actually are caused from.I’ve been told that it is something to do with teenage hormones and that I’ll grow out of it. Any advice would be helpful.

The Right Brain respectfully replies:

The stains you’re seeing on your shirts have nothing to do with teenage hormones. They’re caused by ingredients in your antiperspirant. Specifically, the aluminum salts used in antiperspirants to stop you from sweating can form an acidic complex that stains shirts yellow. (Cotton shirts are particularly susceptible to this reaction.)

What can you do about it?

First of all, you can switch from using antiperspirants (which cause staining) to deodorants (which don’t). Of course, then you’ll sweat more. If you want to know why, check out our previous post on this subject.

Second, if you prefer to stay dry and don’t want to give up your antiperspirant, consider which form you’re using. Gels and creams tend to be wetter and are absorbed better by fabric and therefore cause greater staining. Sticks are a bit drier and so they don’t cause so much yellowing.

Finally, if you rinse your shirts in cold water before you wash them, you’ll greatly reduce the amount of staining. Washing, especially in hot water, can make the stains worse. For a more detailed description of the problem and potential solutions, click here and here.

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