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How To Prevent Pit Stains On Shirts (EXPLAINED)

Learning how to prevent pit stains on shirts can feel like you’re competing in a triathlon. Tag teaming between the right deodorant, the right outfit, and the right wash schedule – it’s certainly a challenge. But you’ll save yourself time and money once you find the right pit-stain-conquering strategy.

Table of Contents

Why Does My Underarm Sweat So Much?

Human beings have a ton of sweat glands in their armpits. That’s why underarm sweat is such a huge problem for lots of guys (and gals).

But beyond that, not using the right deodorant products, not knowing how to properly apply deodorant,  and trying to substitute showers with antiperspirant can all cause excessive sweat or body odor. Excessive sweat can even be a symptom of underlying health issues. Please see a doctor if you find that your odor or sweat are out of control.

In any case, sweat is inevitable, but sweat stains are not.

Why Do I Always Have Sweat Stains?

Permanent sweat stains are a result of the chemicals in your antiperspirant mixing with your sweat (coconut oil deodorant can also stain shirts, but it’s fixable, unlike antiperspirants). Together, they produce those yellowish marks.

The key ingredient that you need to watch out for is aluminum salt. It’s an especially bad offender when it comes to pit stains. Aluminum salts also block your sweat glands, which isn’t necessarily great for your skin – you can read more about that in deodorant versus antiperspirant.

But once you sweat through the blockage, the aluminum reacts with your sweat, creating the perfect sweat-stain storm.

Other minerals in your deodorant can also cause those stains, but aluminum is at the top of the no-fly list.

How To Prevent Pit Stains On Shirts

Pit stains are inevitable. We sweat. But there are a lot of things you can do to delay those stains and get a longer usable lifespan out of your shirts.

Pick Up An All-Natural Deodorant

All-natural deodorants are aluminum-free. Hey! That’s one of the top ingredients that causes pit stains! See where I’m going with this?

Besides being skin-friendly and gentle, natural deodorants are great for preventing aluminum stains. If there was one way to learn how to prevent pit stains, it would be this.

Wear An Undershirt

If you’re worried about your dress shirts, really you should already be wearing an undershirt anyway. It’s just common courtesy with button-downs. Plus, an undershirt will keep those dress shirts looking nice and pit stain-free.

Trim Your Pit Hair 🙁

I know, this is the solution that most guys don’t like. Your pit hair is the perfect next for sweat, bacteria, and deodorant to cause chemical reactions that set off the pit stain process.

Trimming that hair and using a natural deodorant is a killer combo for delaying pit stains in the long run.

Reapply Deodorant

If you’re sweating frequently throughout the day, you might need to reapply your deodorant. This saves your shirts and your odor situation.

Apply Deodorant To Dry Skin

One major deodorant mistake that plenty of guys make is applying it to damp skin right after they hop out of the shower. That thin layer of water makes your deodorant less effective, and it gives it a front row seat to the underarms of your shirt. You’ll smell bad and still get underarm stains.

Apply Less Deodorant

It only takes a thin layer of deodorant to prevent odor. And, remember, you can reapply throughout the day. If you’re using too much, that excess product is going straight into the armpits of your shirts.

Switch Up Your Underarm Product

This strategy solves two problems: it could be that you’re using an especially stain-y deodorant, or you’ve built up an immunity to your deodorant. Swapping out your deodorant for a new brand will keep you smelling and looking fresher.

How To Remove Dark Armpit Stains

There are a ton of strategies you can use to remove pit stains. The full list of tips is in our article on how to remove pit stains from polyester, but some of the highlights:

• If your deodorant is leaving those fresh white streaks in the morning, rub the marks with a used dryer sheet.

• Wash your shirts regularly, and try to get them into the washing machine as soon as you notice any stains. Oftentimes, some detergent and a spin cycle will take those down.

• For stubborn stains, soak the shirt in white vinegar. Or, if you don’t have vinegar on hand, combine a little bit of baking soda and water, and use a toothbrush to scrub the shirt with that mixture.

• If the stains won’t go, don’t be afraid to throw out the shirt. Sometimes it’s time.

How Do You Keep Deodorant From Sweating Off?

Deodorants are meant to “sweat off,” in a sense. 

Unlike antiperspirants (which block your sweat glands), deodorants neutralize the bad sweat smells, but still allow your body to use sweat to cool itself down. If you sweat more than the average guy, you can reapply your deodorant throughout the day to keep any B.O. away,

If you’re considering switching armpit odor products, check out our guide on the differences between deodorant and antiperspirant. You might be surprised by the benefits and downfalls of each.

How Can I Hide My Armpit Stain?

Personally, I like to wear a fun, colorful pair of pants to keep people’s eyes off my pits (That’s a joke, don’t do that haha).

Those less flamboyant than me might try wearing a jacket, or keeping their arms down all day. You can sort of hide an armpit stain that way.

But life is meant to be lived with open arms.

Throw out those old pit-stained shirts, and use one of our pit stain-prevention tricks instead. Some of the most successful pit-stain-triathlon strategists go for a combo move. Get a natural deodorant, shave the pits, and wear an undershirt. Or reapply more often, apply less, and choose an aluminum-free deodorant. You’ll figure out what method works best for you.

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.