Have you ever wondered what that yellowish, sometimes sticky, and flaky material that inhabits the pits of your shirt? Do not be alarmed. It is not your own sweat, nor your armpit excreting abnormally. It is a result of the reaction between your body and the substance found in deodorants.
What’s the Big Deal with Deodorant Stains?
Deodorant is the generic term for that roll on or spray that we use to prevent body odor and sweating but most people don’t know that this common toiletry staple could either be just a plain deodorant or an anti-perspirant or a combination of both. (You can go read the label and see what is is.)
Now, what’s causing that streak on your shirt? It’s actually the aluminum-based compound found in the anti-perspirant that’s the culprit. The compound causes cells in your sweat ducts to expand, further preventing perspiration from getting out. Aluminum chloride, when bonded with sweat, results to that staining substance.
Although the blemish is not of a big deal because it is not visible to other people, it is not only a discoloration, but it tends to be stiff and irritating to the skin. Therefore, getting rid of the stain is not just to look good, but rather, to feel good and comfortable inside. Taking this out is a bit of a challenge. It is more complex than and not as easy, as color stains, because we are dealing with a problem that is caused by chemical reactions.
Cold Water for Rinsing
The fundamental step for all types of fabric is to rinse the affected area with cold water as soon as possible after taking your clothes off. It almost comes as instinct that we presoak in warm water and then treat with chlorine bleach, but no, these two things are going to cause more harm than good.
Oxygen Bleach for Whites
Chlorine and heat tend to make the stain permanent; the dirt sets in, just like how hard water spots react to such treatment. Rather than using chlorine (which tends to darken the color caused by reaction with protein), oxygen bleach or hydrogen peroxide should be used.
The acidic nature of aluminum chloride will be neutralized and it will be easy to scrape the tarnish off. Do remember though that bleach is not so friendly for colored fabrics, so let’s agree with a general rule that this chemical, by default, is for whites, unless you get the special variant that does not damage the colored ones.
For whites, apply a small amount of oxy-bleach to the area and scrub it gently. Let it stay for around five minutes. If it proves ineffective at that instant, you may soak it for longer.
Enzymatic Cleaner for Colored
For colored garments, enzymatic cleaner is applicable using the same methodology for the whites. It is rich in protein and allows organic material to be digested naturally.
Lemon Juice Next to Vinegar
Rubbing the marked area with pure lemon juice and equivalent parts of liquid is the cheaper alternative next to vinegar. You may also add salt into the solution to add a little abrasive that will cause friction between the cloth and the mixture.
Baking Soda Combined with Water
Another option is by combining six tablespoons of baking soda with half a cup of water. Stir until it becomes pasty. Spread the paste evenly and generously and rub the fabric lightly. Leave it for an hour.
Baby Wipes for Quick Relief
If you’re looking for readily available removers, alcohol-based baby wipes can also do the trick. As it is a solvent that evaporates easily, it doesn’t really damage the fabric. Just make sure to scrub gently.
First on the list is meat tenderizer. Its characteristic is similar to the enzymatic cleaner. Wet it until it reaches a pasty consistency. Spread the paste on the affected area and rub softly. If it does not get off, soak it overnight and then wash the next day.
If issue is not resolved, go for white vinegar. Dilute it in equal ratio. Immerse the cloth in the liquid and leave overnight.
Third alternative is ammonia. This is the most advisable solution for delicate fabrics. Do remember that ammonia and bleach combined is a dangerous reaction. Make sure to rinse garments well prior to applying ammonia. Dip a piece of white cloth in ammonia and pat the stain gently. This should instantly eradicate the cakey spot.
Fourth is aspirin. Yes! You read it right. You need aspirin to relieve the headache caused by the damage on your clothes, but not only that! Aspirin has an ingredient called salicylic acid that works similarly with vinegar, but has a much stronger effect. Crush three to four pills and mix them with half a cup of water. Sink the garment in the fusion and retain for a maximum of three to four hours.
Have you heard of boric acid, aka borax? It is also an effective and environment friendly alternate. Make a pasty substance out of it and apply on the pit section of the shirt. Leave it for about half an hour and scour with brush.
If you have items that are only managed by dry cleaning, do not attempt to DIY them. Leave them to the professional dry cleaners, but be sure to tell them about this special condition so they know how to handle it. Otherwise, they’ll just clean it as usual without any special handling.
Whatever stain remover you decide to use, wash the fabric normally after treatment. Cold or hot washing will do, but hot is better to remove any residual effects of the chemicals. Take note of the suggested soaking periods because leaving textiles soaked with these removers will cause the fibers to weaken. Do not put your recently stained clothes in the dryer as this might damage the fibers.
As with all types of problems, armpit-related or not, prevention is still better than cure, and there are several approaches you can take. Best is to avoid anti-perspirants whenever possible. If not, use the spray type and utilize them lightly. Next, wait for the deodorizer or the anti-perspirant dry completely before putting on your clothes. Lastly, consider wearing an undershirt (the cottony type) so that it gets to absorb the sweat first before the garment. It is easier to wash and treat whites than your armpit-sweat-drenched favorite shirt or dress!