We can't keep count of how many comfy white tees and crisp white button-ups we throw into the trash with yellowish brown armpit stains (it's a lot). Everything seems fine after the first few washes, but then (seemingly out of nowhere) your shirt is ruined around the sleeves. You might accept that this is the natural life cycle of your whites, but no! There are a few steps you can take to save your shirts from the garbage.
Your antiperspirant is the real culprit.
Those stains aren't just caused by sweat. It's actually a deeper combination of your bodily fluids and the chemicals in your antiperspirant. "Some antiperspirants contain aluminum-based compounds that react with the urea found in sweat to form a yellow stain," P&G principal scientist Mary Johnson tells SELF. Antiperspirants with aluminum on the ingredient list work by plugging your sweat glands, preventing perspiration altogether. "If a deodorant or antiperspirant does not do a good job of preventing sweat, you'll see an increase in yellowing," says Johnson.
Loosen the yellow spots with a vinegar soak.
As soon as you see the first sign of yellowing, go to the kitchen and grab the vinegar. The acid in this kitchen staple breaks the bonds between the cotton fibers, sweat, and antiperspirant, says Johnson. Allow the vinegar to soak in for at least 20 minutes. Next, rub the white tee with a stain-removal product, and soak for another 20 minutes. (No one said that this would be a quick process). Finally, Johnson recommends washing the shirt in the warmest water possible according to the care label. Repeat if necessary.
Don't use chlorine to whiten your whites.
We know your mom taught you something completely different, but chlorine can actually make armpit rings worse. "Avoid using chlorine bleach as it can intensify the yellow color of some stains," says Johnson. "Most care label instructions advise you to use only non-chlorine bleach." Try Tide Boost Vivid White + Bright Pac as an alternative to your classic chlorine product.
Don't stick your shirts in the dryer.
The heat from the dryer can make it easier for the stain to set, says Johnson. So wait until the yellow spots have totally vanished before you hit tumble-dry low or hang dry after stain removal.
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