How to Actually Get Rid Of Deodorant Stains, From A Cleaning Expert
We've all been there: You throw on your favorite black top and rush out the door without realizing you're carrying along some white stripes on your garment. The culprit? Deodorant.
It's a frustrating scenario, especially when the stain doesn't rub off right away. Many deodorant formulas are made to last, after all. However, it's not impossible to rid those pesky marks in record time: If you've got a deodorant stain on your clothes that won't budge (or you want to be prepared for the next time this occurs), see below for the best expert tips and at-home treatments:
Use a dryer sheet.
While you may be tempted to go in with something wet, a dryer sheet just might do the trick. What's great about this technique is that you'll be able to rub off the stain without having to worry about dry time.
"The key, surprisingly, is to look for something dry with texture, like a dryer sheet or even balled-up pantyhose," green-cleaning expert Tonya Harris tells mbg. To keep the trick eco-friendly, save your used dryer sheets every once in a while for these occasions, as a fresh piece isn't necessary.
If you have the time, try to steam the stain beforehand: "This will help relax the material as well as the stain," Harris says. If you don't have a steamer, you can hang the garment next to a steamy shower. Then begin to rub in circular motions with the sheet. "You should see the stain easily begin to lift," Harris says.
Make a vinegar bath.
If your deodorant stain is especially stubborn, you may want to opt for a vinegar bath. Be sure to use white vinegar and have enough time to wash the garment post-treatment. Basically, you'll want to soak the piece of clothing in a sink or bucket filled with a 4:1 white vinegar to water ratio, Harris explains. Then let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour.
Finally, Harris explains, "Use a cloth, old toothbrush, or a laundry brush to gently scrub the stain." Follow up by washing the garment as you normally would with a trusty detergent.
Opt for a store-bought sponge.
If you're constantly on the go, you may consider keeping a sponge with you. These dry sponges from Spa Sister are perfect for impromptu stain removal. Harris recommends keeping one or two of these in your purse for when you're in a pinch.
Skip the damp towel.
While you may be tempted to reach for a damp towel to treat your stain, Harris recommends staying far away from this tactic. "A wet towel is not ideal, especially for dark clothing. It can cause the color to run, and it can also further set the deodorant stain into the shirt," she says.
Instead of reaching for a wet towel, use one of the methods listed above. These remedies are sure to fight the stain without spreading or compromising the color of your clothing.
Use a baking soda and water paste for armpit stains.
If your issue is more to do with armpit and sweat stains, you may need something more intense. Just like vinegar, baking soda is another household DIY favorite. To make your cleaning concoction mix baking soda with splashes of water until it forms a paste. Then apply it directly on the the stain for several minutes (like 10 to 20 should do the trick!). Once the timer goes off, rinse the garment with warm water. Always spot treat first to make sure the mixture doesn't harm the fabric.
How to prevent deodorant stains.
Now that you know how to get rid of any stains you currently have, allow us to suggest a few preventive measures for next time:
Opt for a natural, clear deodorant.
If your powder deodorant constantly leaves behind white streaks, you may consider switching to something that glides on clear. What's more, a natural, aluminum-free option may be best for those looking to avoid pit stains as well.
"Pit stains are actually typically caused by a reaction of sweat to chemicals in antiperspirant, particularly aluminum," Harris previously told mbg. So if you keep it clear and natural, you're sure to avoid both deodorant and pit stains in the future. Here's a list of our favorite aluminum-free deodorants, for those on the hunt.
But it's not just switching to aluminum-free that will solve for this. Many aluminum-free deodorants rely on baking soda or other white powders, which can leave marks just the same as their antiperspirant counterparts.
So as for the clear part, look for deodorants with a plant-based propylene glycol or propanedial high up on the INCI list, as that should give you the sheer appearance and gel consistency you're looking for. These deodorants may also contain powders (like arrow root or tapioca powder) as supporting ingredients, but the overall formula is usually not as opaque white.
Let your deodorant dry before getting dressed.
This one may seem like a given, but the small tweak can help limit white streaks left behind on your favorite pieces. As a rule of thumb: Put on your deodorant before doing your beauty routine. This way, your product will be fully dry by the time you get dressed.
Treat any stains ASAP.
It might be tempting to toss your stained garment into the laundry bin and let it sit until wash day, but that may make matters worse. "The fresher the stain, the easier it is to remove," Harris says, so try to treat these marks soon after they happen.
It's all too common to leave the house with a few white stripes on the side of your favorite top, especially if you're rushing to get ready. Deodorant is meant to stick to the skin, but unfortunately, it frequently finds its way to your garments instead.
Rather than rubbing the stain with a wet towel, opt for a dryer sheet, dry sponge, or a vinegar bath. In the future, look for a no-transfer, natural deodorant and let it completely dry before dressing. Now, if it's sweat stains you're dealing with? That's an entirely different story.
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends, holistic skincare approaches, must-have makeup products, and inclusivity in the beauty industry. She currently lives in New York City.