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How To Get Deodorant Stains Out Of Polyester (ANSWERED)

Deodorant marks and discolorations can be a plague on your closet. If that’s the case for you, then knowing how to get deodorant stains out of polyester can save your wardrobe.

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Where Do Deodorant Stains Come From?

The streaky marks on your dark polyester t-shirt are, quite literally, your deodorant rubbing off on the fabric. If you have more permanent armpit stains, those are a combination of your deodorant and sweat seeping into the fabric, causing chemical discoloration.

Over time, the chemicals in your deodorant (specifically aluminum) will interact with your sweat and leave behind yellow armpit stains. You can do a lot to prevent and clean those stains to extend the lifespan of your clothes, but at the end of the day, the armpit stains will inevitably prevail.

How To Get Deodorant Stains Out Of Polyester

The best way to remove a deodorant stain is to put the clothing item through the washing machine. A good detergent is always the best fix. If it’s a hand wash item, soak it in water and a gentle detergent, rinse, then hang to dry.

Other techniques include soaking the clothing in white vinegar, rubbing the stain with a used dryer sheet (if it’s a light stain), or scrubbing with bar soap and water. We’ll go into each of those in more detail in the sections following.

But while we have a moment here…if you’re pulling every tool out of the box, trying to get rid of that stain, and nothing is working, it might be time to dispose of the clothing item. Armpit stains happen naturally over time no matter how careful you are. There’s no shame in retiring a shirt to the PJ or workout drawer, or just throwing it out if it’s a lost cause. 

How Do You Get Deodorant Stains Out Of Polyester Without Washing It?

First, try rubbing the deodorant stain with a used dryer sheet. That often does the trick. The keyword there is used dryer sheet. If you take a fresh one out of the box, it’ll “spread out” the mark, fading it but leaving a larger, less noticeable splotch. That’s because the wax in the fresh dryer sheet fades the deodorant, but also rubs off on your clothing. So keep a used sheet on hand for quick stain removal without the wax deposit.

If that’s not working, splash the stain with a bit of water, and maybe even apply some bar soap, depending on how much time you have. The water alone won’t be completely effective, but it can fade the stain further. Bar soap can help you wash the stain out without actually putting your clothing through the washing machine, but it can be a hassle if you’re in a rush.

Also consider swapping out your shirt. If you don’t have time to wash it, then you probably don’t have time to be fiddling with the stain.

How To Prevent Deodorant Stains On Polyester

Solid deodorants are great for blocking sweat, but they also leave those white streaky marks. If you don’t want to rub those out with a used dryer sheet every morning, you can try switching to a stainless deodorant.

Spray, roll-on, gel, and clear stick deodorants don’t leave those white marks. The catch is that you’ll have to get used to the liquidy texture of gels or roll ons if you’ve never used them before, and they might not feel as “effective” as solid until your skin gets used to the change.

If you’re wondering which one might be right for you, check out our guides on gel versus solid deodorant, spray versus solid deodorant, and roll on versus solid deodorant. Each has its own perks and downfalls.

If you’re not willing to give up solid (which, trust me, many guys don’t want to) another option is to switch to an all-natural deodorant. They typically skip out aluminum, which is a key ingredient that causes those yellow sweat marks over time. The catch is that wearing a natural deodorant won’t block your sweat glands, so it’s not the best choice for everyone.

Are Deodorant Stains On Polyester Permanent?

Those fresh, new white marks that you see in the morning right after you put on your deodorant and shirt are not permanent. You can get those out without even washing the shirt. (Pick one of the techniques that we talked about earlier!)

The yellow, dark, or discolored stains in the armpit of your shirts tend to be more permanent. Those are a result of your sweat and the chemicals in the deodorant interacting with the fabric, leaving behind stubborn marks. My recommendation is to try soaking those in white vinegar; we’ll talk about how to do that properly in the next subhead. If that fails, it’s unlikely that those stains will be fading anytime soon.

Wearing a gel, roll-on, or spray deodorant can prevent those armpit stains, but once they’re there, it’s time to mentally prepare to recycle the shirt.

How Do You Remove Deodorant Stains From Armpits Of Shirts?

For more stubborn deodorant stains, your best bet is a white vinegar soak. Fill a medium bucket, pot, or tupperware with water (cool or warm, just not hot), and add in half a cup of white vinegar. Place the clothing item in the container, and let it sit for 30 minutes. If it hasn’t faded noticeably after half an hour, scrub it gently with a toothbrush. The white vinegar will not stain your clothing.

You can also try dabbing the stain with hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide also won’t stain or fade your clothing. Squirt a little onto the armpit of the sleeve, and either let it soak, or use dish soap, baking soda, and a toothbrush to scrub at the stain.

Whatever you do, don’t try to bleach out deodorant stains. More often than not, bleach will just make the stain worse.

If white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, dish soap, and baking soda all fail, the shirt might be a lost cause.

How Does Vinegar Remove Deodorant Stains From Clothes?

Your deodorant stains are all acidic. Sweat and deodorant makes for an acidic combo in the armpit of your shirt, causing the discoloration. Vinegar is also acidic, and it can dissolve other acids, like that deodorant-sweat combo. That’s how it removes stubborn deodorant stains.

Native Deodorant: Best Deodorant For Polyester Shirts

Pop quiz time: which ingredient in deodorant reacts with your sweat to cause yellow armpit stains? It’s aluminum.

Native deodorant is all-natural, aluminum-free, and alcohol-free. It’ll keep you smelling nice all day, without causing long-term chemical stains in the armpits of your shirts. Lots of Amazon reviewers specifically appreciate how gentle, fresh, and neutral-smelling it is.

Natural deodorants like Native don’t stop you from sweating, but since they don’t contain those usual stain-causing deodorant chemicals, you’ll stretch the lifespan of your shirts and delay staining.

Just be aware that if you’re switching from a commercial deodorant to an all-natural deodorant, you might experience some rashing and discomfort at first. That’s your body going through a detox process (it doesn’t happen for everyone, just some users). After a few weeks of using Native, your armpits will feel better than ever.

Frank Edwards is a men's grooming & style expert who is "internet famous" for being able to simplify complicated grooming routines into easy, yet effective rituals any man can do. As a professional analyst, he has spent years researching the biggest brands, products, experts, best practices, and breaking news in the space. He takes this analysis, tests it out on himself, and then documents everything in his writing. As a result, his experience-based articles are considered by some to be the gold standard in men's grooming and men's style.