how to remove caked on deodorant from shirts

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How To Remove Caked On Deodorant From Shirts

Removing Underarm Deodorant Stains from Cotton Clothing

Advice from Dr. Laundry
Q.How do you remove underarm deodorant from cotton clothing?

A.I get lots of different questions about deodorant and underarm stains, which I realize mean different things to different people. These stains are hugely problematic because they are highly variable from person to person and garment to garment. I don’t always get a lot of detail (how old the stains are is just one important consideration) with the question that is asked, so I like to provide a lot of different information in the hope of fully addressing the issue.

A light smear of antiperspirant or deodorant that transfers to a shirt while it is being put on will usually come off with regular washing. This assumes good wash habits: a properly loaded washer, a good detergent and the right laundry additive, and the hottest water appropriate for the load.

Removing Deodorant Stains from White Shirts
Crusty build-up on underwear style t-shirts, on the other hand, is very difficult to remove, and it’s better not to let it happen in the first place.  If this is the problem you are dealing with, and your shirts are in pretty bad shape, I would start fresh with new undershirts, and keep the stains from building up by doing the following:

  1. . Pre-treat the armpits of each white t-shirt each time you wash the shirt with Clorox® Bleach Pen Gel. Use the broad scrubber tip to apply the gel and gently rub it into the stain. Since you want to prevent build-up, do this whether or not you actually see any stain every time you wash a shirt.
  2. . Wash immediately in hot water with detergent and ½ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach₂ with CLOROMAX®.
  3. . Unless you have an obvious stain you were trying to remove, you can tumble dry the shirts with the rest of your white load. Otherwise let them air dry.

Since these stains are very individualized, what works for one person doesn’t work for another, you may also want to try pretreating the stains with a little liquid laundry detergent before washing. Body chemistry, antiperspirant choice and activity level all contribute, so it’s good to experiment to see what works for you. Changing deodorants may even be necessary to help get the stains under control.

Removing Deodorant Stains from Color Shirts
There’s also the issue of what to do for colored shirts — you can try pretreating the armpit area with Clorox 2® Stain Remover & Color Booster as follows:

  1. . Apply liquid Clorox 2® Stain Remover & Color Booster directly to the armpit area and rub in; wait 3–5 minutes (don’t let it dry on the fabric). Doing this each time you wash a shirt will help prevent build up.
  2. . Wash immediately in the hottest water recommended on the care label with detergent and additional Clorox 2® based on your load size.
  3. . If there were obvious underarm stains that you pre-treated, then be sure to air dry the shirt and check for success; repeat if necessary.

Removing Crusty Deodorant Build-Up from Shirts
Just in case you have some crusty stained t-shirts that you do want to try restoring, here’s a recommendation often provided in clothes washer user’s guides that you can try:

  1. . Working into a dishpan, pour boiling water slowly through each armpit stain. This is to “melt” any build-up, which is a combination of deodorant, sweat, body soil, bacteria, etc. It will help if you position the shirt in the dishpan before you start so that you can get to each stain without touching the shirt since once you begin — it will be boiling hot!
  2. . Don’t rinse the shirt — just pour off as much of the hot water as you can. This keeps the build-up in a more “melted” state. And if you do need to handle the shirt either use kitchen tongs or wear gloves.
  3. . Apply a mixture of 1:1:1 parts baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and water directly to the stain. Sometimes this is referred to as a paste, but it is actually quite watery, so be sure to mix up enough so you can saturate the stains.
  4. . Rinse the shirt, and then follow up with a hot water wash with a good enzyme-containing detergent. (For white t-shirts, be sure to add ½ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach₂ with CLOROMAX®!)

How to Remove Deodorant Stains From Clothing

Nothing ruins your favorite little black dress quicker than a streak of deodorant. Depending on the material of the garment and depth of the stain, the best way to remove glaring white streaks can differ. So if a sudden deodorant stain has made an unsuspecting appearance on your favorite item, keep reading. We’ve gathered five different ways to remove deodorant, some a little more in-depth than others depending on how much time you have at your disposal. Keep in mind that delicate fabrics like silk or anything labeled “dry-clean only,” laundering may be best left to a professional.

Hack #1: Try Vinegar

One of the best ways to remove deodorant stains is to begin by soaking your garment in white vinegar. Let the item soak for 45 to 60 minutes, and then gently brush the stain with a textured cloth or old toothbrush. Launder the item as you normally would, using hot water. This is an ideal solution for both white and colorful clothing.

Hack #2: Transfer the Stain

While it might sound strange, applying a clean sock or nylon stocking to the stain can actually help to remove it. Simply place the item onto the stained area, and then gently rub the stain using firm, circular motions. Wash the clothing as you normally would with a gentle detergent.

Hack #3: Use Baking Soda

Much like vinegar, baking soda is a remarkable cleaning agent for a variety of applications. Thankfully, one of those applications happens to be removing deodorant stains from clothing. Simple mix three-parts baking soda with one-part water to form a paste, and then rub the mixture directly onto the stain. Allow the garment to sit for one to two hours, then launder normally, using hot water.

Hack #4: Try Aspirin

The most unsuspecting stain remedy may be hiding in your medicine cabinet. Crush four to five aspirin tablets, and then mix the powder with a small amount of water to create a paste. Apply this to the stain (just as you would with baking soda) and wash the garment as usual. As a note, this method is ideal for white clothing, but it can damage the color of dark garments.

Hack #5: Wipe With a Damp Cloth

For emergency situations, simply wipe a lightly dampened cloth over the surface of the stain. While it won’t always work for deeply set stains or certain types of fabrics, this simple hack can be a lifesaver when you’re headed out the door and need to remove deodorant stains in a snap. If you use it for white stains on dark clothing, it can make your favorite little black dress look as good as new. A deodorant-removing sponge can also be a helpful item to have on hand for easy, timely removal, especially for delicate garments.

How to Dissolve Caked-On Deodorant

Try a spot of vinegar or ammonia on the inside of the fabric to test for colorfastness.

Try a spot of vinegar or ammonia on the inside of the fabric to test for colorfastness.

While swiping deodorant under your arms keeps you feeling clean and smelling fresh, some white solid formulations leave behind patches of product that remain on the insides of your favorite garments. Instead of going sans deodorant or tossing your caked-on clothes, opt to remove these sticky mounds of residue at home without destroying the fabric.

Check the garment care label to see if the fabric is washable. If the care label says that the garment is machine washable, then agitation in the washing machine is suitable to wash and remove the stain. If the stained clothing is non-washable, take it to the dry cleaner immediately.

Use a knife with a dull edge to scoop the solid deodorant off the surface of the material. Using a knife to scrape the fabric will not completely remove the deodorant, but the knife’s back-and-forth motion will help to get rid of small pieces of the caked-on product off the garment.

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Pretreat stains with white vinegar or ammonia. If the deodorant stain altered the color of your clothing, GoodHousekeeping.com suggests that you apply white vinegar to an old stain, and ammonia to a fresh one.

Place your clothing on a flat surface with the stain facing up. Pour just enough ammonia or white vinegar directly on the stain to saturate the deodorant and the fabric. To ensure that these pretreatments help to dissolve the caked-on deodorant, rub the stain with the edge of a clean white cloth for a few seconds.

Let the ammonia or vinegar remain on the fabric for 5 to 10 minutes, then rinse the area completely with warm water.

Apply a quarter-sized amount of pretreating liquid to the stain. Make sure that the pretreating product dampens and covers the stain completely.

Wash the garment in the hottest water cycle that is safe for the fabric. Dry the fabric on the care label’s recommended heat setting. Repeat this stain removal process as necessary, or take the garment to the dry cleaner for a professional cleaning treatment.

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