Laundry Help, Please: Yellow Stains Under The Arms

A few of my husbands shirts seem to be ruined by stains under the arms. On the light colored shirts, I can’t remove the yellow rings, and on the dark colored shirts, the area under the arms seems almost to be bleached. (Which I assume is caused by his deodorant.)

Are these shirts a lost cause? I’ve tried stain removers, and bleaching the whites, but the stains remain.

In the future, how can I prevent this? Is there some kind of treatment I could use in every wash?

The yellow stains are various complex body compounds carried out in persiration that have oxidized and are bound to the material. If the shirts are white you can try bleaching them, but this rarely works completely and the amount of bleaching required to remove the stains (if they can be removed) can substantially damage the shirt material. The shirts cannot be fixed and deodorant bound into the material is just as stubborn as body perspiration fluids are to remove.

FWIW I’ve found that the clear gel anti-perspirants/deodorants are just as effective as the white ones and do not stain shirts nearly as badly.

Does he wear short sleeved cotton undershirts? Using them substantially slows down the staining process.

I had this problem as a teenager. Pre-treating the stains with a little vinegar or lemon joice (or better, today’s citrus oil cleaning solutions) solved it. As an adult, I do my laundry much more rigorously than I did then (back then I didn’t even bother to sort darks, colors and lights) and I find I don’t have the problem in the first place anymore. Then again, I wear undershirts now, too. Damn, I’ve become a fuddy duddy.

I had some white shirts with yellow stains under the arms. I soaked them in a large bucket with a few scoops of oxy-clean over night, then washed them, then soaked again and washed again. This worked! I haven’t had to try it on dark colored shirts so I’m not sure how it’d work for those, but it was great on whites.

My brother has this problem. When we were travelling in India, he found that the stains went away because they were being dried on a clothesline in the sunlight instead of in a dryer.

Later, back in the United States, he was told by someone that the yellow stains were caused by the presence of uric acid in his perspiration and he was advised to drink more water so that he would have to urinate more often. This seems to have worked to some extent.

I tried everything, and eventually this worked: I threw away my shirts and bought new ones, then switched to one of those deodorant crystals. Viola! No more waxy pit deposits!

I too have heard that the problem occurs as a result of being dried in a dryer. Shirts that hang dry don’t have this problem, even if the wearer is a heavy sweater.

If you can hang dry clothes, it should help.

As far as the shirts that are already damaged, nothing has worked for me. I suppose you could try a bluing agent on whites, but that’s pretty exterme.